Séphora Pierre-Louis: Featured MBA Advisor

Can you please tell us about your academic and professional background?

I am currently getting my MBA at Mills College in Oakland with a concentration in nonprofit and marketing. I already have a bachelor degree in Management from Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti and a Master’s degree in Project Management from Quisqueya University of Haiti. My career has been involved in both the profit and nonprofit sectors and I’ve been working in the fields of Management, Sales, and Marketing for more than 14 years. I’m mostly concerned with innovation in business, entrepreneurship, communication, and leadership.

I’ve also been a board and active member of Partners of the Americas (Haiti – New Jersey Chapter) for more than 6 years, which is a grassroots network that seeks to connect volunteers, institutions, and communities to serve and change lives. I am a Distinguished Toastmaster as well, which has allowed me to start many Toastmaster Clubs in Haiti. I have been the Area Governor of Caribbean District 81, and my clubs and area were actually granted the Distinguished President award, the highest honors that Toastmasters offers based on their excellence in accomplishments of a set of goals through innovative strategies.

Why did you decide to join Centro as an MBA Advisor?

When I saw Centro’s presentation at Mills College I was impressed by the work they were doing in the community. Moreover, their approach closely relates to my business plan, which focuses on launching my own nonprofit organization in my home country to assist entrepreneurs with small to medium-sized businesses. I felt a connection and wanted to get the experience of working with an entrepreneur myself so I could understand what it really implies, and eventually transfer this experience to my own project.

Which businesses/entrepreneurs did you advise?

At her first workshop, Eden poured oil in Séphora’s ears to demonstrate one of her treatments

At her first workshop, Eden poured oil in Séphora’s ears to demonstrate one of her treatments

My entrepreneur was Eden Tosch, a clinical practitioner of Classical Indian Healthcare (CIH or Classical Ayurveda). Her business, Eden Ayurveda, is a sole proprietorship that provides in-depth consultations that guide a wide range of Ayurvedic healing tools.

Can you tell us about a challenge that you faced?

The first challenge I faced was time pressure. Personally, I have the capacity of processing and recording information quickly and I had to adjust this behavior to my entrepreneur’s so we could work in symbiosis and achieve more. I also had to figure out the most efficient communication and leadership skills, such as asking my entrepreneur the right questions that would allow me to get the answers I needed to advise her in the most efficient way.

What did you learn during Centro’s program?

During the program I learned that being a coach is a very challenging duty that requires a good understanding of one’s self. I learned that a coach needs to be firm on goals but flexible on means to achieve those goals. Goals are the best way to stay focused and make sure that every step and action taken is done according to the goals that were set by the entrepreneur.

How has Centro impacted your career trajectory?

Damanbir Singh (MBA Advisor), Eden Tosch (Entrepreneur), and Séphora Pierre-Louis

Damanbir Singh (MBA Advisor), Eden Tosch (Entrepreneur), and Séphora Pierre-Louis

Centro has given me the experience I need to implement an international program where I will be able to use these effective tools in my country to train small to medium size business entrepreneurs. I won’t need to re-invent the wheels but can adapt and reapply these tools somewhere else for a broader impact.

What are you up to now?

Updated April 2013: I am working on a research project with Women’s Initiative, which ties to a marketing research for my own business plan. The first step for me is to get qualitative and quantitative data on nonprofit organizations that are doing similar activities in the US, specifically in Oakland, California, so that I can learn about the best practices and failures, as well as how I can partner up with organizations for future programs in Haiti.