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DEO Entrepreneurship Week helps aspiring business owners

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Ann Sabbag knew by the time she was 7 years old that she was going to have her own business.

“I had five brothers and I had to learn how to be a leader real quick,” she said. “I always wanted to use my voice, always wanted to use my strengths.”

Later, she would be the founder of Health Designs, a company offering award-winning wellness services for employees.

Sabbag spoke in Nelms 1 on Tuesday, March 8, as part of the Davis Entrepreneurship Organization’s Entrepreneurship Week. The week invited entrepreneurs from fields including science, fine arts and business to share their stories, give advice and provide networking opportunities.

In creating Health Designs, Sabbag learned how to find a staff that filled her weaknesses.

“Play to your strengths,” Sabbag said. “You have to know where your weaknesses are, but you don’t need to make them a whole lot better because the truth is they don’t get a whole lot better and you’ll be wasting a lot of time.”

Sabbag didn’t know how to create a company or run a business. Her advice for students in similar circumstances is to work on interpersonal skills.

“People skills are the number one thing in business right now,” she said. “Learn how to deal with people and how to keep your own emotions when they’re negative and inappropriate in tact.”

The Supervising Engineer at Parsons Company, Marcel Dulay, Ph.D., also encouraged the audience to work on interpersonal skills. He hoped they saw the value in gaining as many skills as necessary to support their entrepreneurial journey.

“What I found most valuable, depending on what person you want to be and what field you want to be in, is good skills in data analysis and getting advanced skills in statistics and economics,” Dulay said. “[Gain] different sets of skills that can lead people, that can encourage people. Learn about how the world operates.”

After earning a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso, Dulay discovered that to go further in his field, he would need to earn degrees in environmental engineering and public policy.

“Engineers, for the most part, get told where to put the bridge, what to do,” Dulay said. “The government and people in power directs us more than we would like to be.”

Adding those additional skills gave him a greater advantage.

“If you’re going to pick another skill, pick something totally different,” he said. “Something on the other side of the spectrum. The broader that perspective is makes you very marketable.”

Sabbag agreed, noting that the most successful people she knows are lifelong learners.

“They love learning. They want to be around people who do that same thing. They want to learn from other people.”

Students interested in entrepreneurship can contact the DEO at [email protected].

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The student news site of Jacksonville University.
DEO Entrepreneurship Week helps aspiring business owners