“All of my life, I’ve been fascinated by entrepreneurship,” said Stanislaus State Faculty Member Pablo Paredes Romero.
He admits, that years ago — before he started his own consulting company — he didn’t think that he could work for himself. “I was one of those people who used to say that I worked better in the service of others.”
Life and experience, however, taught him that he could do both.
Paredes Romero’s strong interest in entrepreneurship, his educational background in human resources, organizational behavior, development and management and a strong desire to serve his community all aligned earlier this year when he was chosen as the new Porges Champions Faculty Fellow, one of the components of the Warrior Entrepreneur Initiative (WEI).
“As the Porges Champions Faculty Fellow, Dr. Romero will be a resource for innovation and entrepreneurial activities across campus,” said Terence Pitre, dean of the College of Business Administration. “He will be the steward of the Warrior Entrepreneurship Initiative, including its ongoing implementation and growth in collaboration with the Division of Academic Affairs leadership.”
WEI is a unique and multifaceted program established by a $250,000 gift from the Porges Family Foundation. The initiative is designed to provide inspiration, mentorship and financial support to emerging entrepreneurs as they strive to turn their ideas and concepts into new business ventures that can help grow the region’s economy.
The initiative consists of several components, including the faculty fellowship, a volunteer entrepreneurs-in-residence program, a scholarship fund and a future business competition. WEI also incorporates the University’s annual Champions of the American Dream, which takes place this year at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20.
Before he landed the faculty fellow role, Paredes Romero was already familiar with WEI through his work with small business development centers (SBDC) located in Stanislaus and Merced counties.
“I went to one of the WEI boot camps that was held at the Valley Sierra Small Business Development Center, and it just kind of clicked,” he said. “My research interests, the WEI program and what it can provide the community — all this was my moment of complete clarity, and it all just coalesced. I loved it, and I wanted to support it in any way that I could.
“I’ve always been one to try new things. I’ve always dug that,” he said. “If you look at what I’ve been doing with the small business development centers, it’s all entrepreneurship. The work that I’ve done in the public sector, private sector, for myself and now in academia, my career past mirrors an act of bricolage. It’s disparate elements being put together to make something work.
“You can split my career between larger organizations, mid-size organizations and the small organizations that I’ve served, and it’s really the smaller organizations where I felt I learned the most.”
During the past couple of months, Paredes Romero has been in planning and outreach mode while simultaneously getting settled in his on-campus office.
“We’re now getting to the point where we’re putting together a strategic plan and having regular meetings. I’m starting to branch out, and by branch out, I mean moving among faculty and the staff to introduce myself and say this is what we’ve got planned and let’s start having initial conversations about what we want to do.”
Paredes Romero said that he admires the thoughtfulness and commitment of the Porges family and the faculty and staff. “It’s really about structuring a scalable and accountable program at the University.”
Being on the board of the Stanislaus Latino Chamber of Commerce has allowed him to meet people in the community and work with local business leaders.
“I have deep, abiding admiration for the people in this community, particularly people who start their own businesses,” he said. “I’ve lived in other places in the country, and (Central Valley residents) are the kindest of people I’ve ever lived around.”
Paredes Romero is excited to help students and community members understand and learn that entrepreneurship is within their reach.
“We can inspire our students to take a look at that possibility,” he said. “I’m not diminishing the quality of going to work for somebody else or for a corporation. All those things are fantastic. They have their value, their worth to society, to the economy and personal fulfillment. But we can create an alternative for students to be able to expound and exercise that creativity they have within to work for themselves and contribute to the economy.
“I’m excited about and looking forward to the impact this program will have for students and the community. When you see that moment, where you capture the attention, the imagination and the enthusiasm of the students. It’s everything. I can’t wait to be able to help because it takes a village. It’s going to take a lot of commitment from different sectors that include both the University and the community to bring this all together.”