A Closer Look at a Business Renaissance Executive: An Interview with Deborah diCesare

Article excerpt

Deborah diCesare has worked in higher education since 1991. Currently, she serves as the Dean of Academic Affairs and Economic Development at Los Angeles Valley College where she leads the planning, development and implementation of a comprehensive educational response to the needs and expectations of business, industry, the community and its organizations. Dean diCesare is responsible for promoting partnerships with business, industry, labor and community-based organizations on behalf of the college. She monitors and assesses labor market and economic changes in the college service area and initiates, with the help of other college personnel, programs and services that respond to those identified needs. Through her efforts, Valley College has been awarded federal, state and local grants totaling more than $9 million. Previously, as a director at Soka University of America, her responsibilities included developing and implementing strategic plans to meet community outreach objectives, administering the Human Rights Lectures Series programs and Pan Pacific Business Seminars. Dr. diCesare's project management and team building skills have been used not only within the organization but also when representing the college to the general public and while forming coalitions to produce campus programs. In 1999, acting on the need to bring the Quality Criteria to higher education, she became a Certified Quality Examiner in the Malcolm Baldrige tradition. Deborah lectures and hosts workshops on leadership, international business, and intercultural communication for both colleges and businesses. She actively participates in the Soka Gakkai International - USA, an organization based on the teachings and philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism, which places the highest emphasis on the dignity of life. She holds a doctorate degree in education and organizational leadership from the University of LaVerne. Prior to working in higher education, Dr. diCesare worked for Fortune 100 and 500 companies in New York and Los Angeles.

BRO: What makes you a business renaissance executive?

DdC: What makes me a business renaissance executive is implementing the philosophy that we are all interconnected and focusing on humanitarian competition rather than basing my actions solely on economic results. We can be caring and compassionate while making the world a better place and still increase profits. It is important to contemplate how decisions impact peoples' lives and make the quality of lives better. On a personal level, I am willing to continually renew and reflect on my own behavior and perspective as a human being and to revaluate my vision for the future. Through experience, I have learned that human capital, people, is the most valuable asset of any organization. By treating each person with respect and recognizing their capabilities, we can build trust and create a united team with a shared vision to achieve beyond an individual's capabilities.

BRQ: How do you think you stand out compared to other business executives?

DdC: I hope my own humanism touches other people's hearts so they know that I truly respect them...l may not agree with them...but I respect them as human beings for all their strengths, foibles, and idiosyncrasies; hopefully the feeling is mutual. I like to think that others notice something different about me in the way I approach people and challenges. I hope they see my character beyond my position or role-played in the organization. I truly believe that by creating an atmosphere where people can fully realize their individuality, the organization can benefit from the richness and fruits of diversity, and can achieve something greater. This requires patience, fortitude, and an indomitable spirit, but the result is worth it.

BRO: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

DdC: For a decade, I had the great fortune to serve as the Director of the Human Rights Lecture Series at Soka University, Calabasas, California. …