Regina Howson: Classroom Lessons Beyond Classroom Settings
The San Jose Office of Economic Development (OED) is a dynamic department with countless responsibilities. The OED aims to expand San Jose’s vibrant economy by creating jobs, attracting private investments and supporting local businesses. Each of these services require a unique set of skills, but effective communication, compassion, adaptability and resourcefulness are among the most valuable. For example, there are instances when the city’s resources are not enough to help a business solve their challenge and navigating that conversation with clarity and compassion is essential.
The OED team conducts Business Walks, or “BizWalks”, where we walk a specific business district and check in with the stores to better understand their needs. I believe BizWalks are the most valuable part of my job because they shed light on the hardships many businesses face, especially after a pandemic. I have met several courageous and resilient business owners who demonstrate great flexibility, problem-solving, and work ethic. I admire their tenacity, and recognize the scary reality of their livelihood possibly relying on uncertain economic times.
BizWalks perfectly illustrate how the business skills learned in the Leavey School of Business apply to the real world. Throughout the past three years, many of my professors have emphasized the importance of being an effective problem-solver and I did not appreciate that sentiment until recently. Non-profit’s face numerous unique challenges and it is imperative for the organization’s success to know how to efficiently solve them. The city of San Jose has experienced several structural shifts where members of their teams have transitioned to other companies or were promoted. This shifted many different responsibilities onto the OED, a department that already has a lot on their plate. It was impressive to see my team members pick up the extra work by delegating, outsourcing and completing tasks more rapidly. Their adaptability and determination to overcome a challenge is reflective of their character and commitment to public works. During my time at the OED, I have realized that a team member who is creative and a diligent problem-solver will be an invaluable asset to any company.