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Q&A with Leizel Mosquera Parks '90

Leizel Mosquera Parks ’90 is the chief operating officer for Allied Networking, a local Delaware IT company. She previously ran her own consulting business, helping small businesses and individuals identify and solve a variety of challenges.
Share a little about your career and what you've done since graduating from Tower Hill.
After I left Tower Hill I went to school at Hollins Women’s College—now Hollins University—and then later on transferred to George Mason University because I was offered a full-time job at the U.S. Department of Treasury, where I had been a summer intern. I actually never graduated, and to this day I still don’t have a degree. Since then, I have worked in almost every industry. I worked at the Department of Treasury, America Online and the Grand Opera House, among other places. My career has gone from being an administrative support person to finding my way through operations and human resources and learning how to navigate the business world that way.
A few years ago, I was laid off from the Grand Opera House, where I was the payroll benefits manager, and I decided to start a consulting business full-time. I helped professionals with career transitions, helping professionals rewrite their résumés, prepare for interviews and things like that. A lot of those folks were people who were in similar positions to me where they didn’t have the degree or they didn’t necessarily have all the experience that an employer was looking for, but they had the knowledge to do the job and they just wanted a chance to be able to show that they could do the job, so I helped them navigate that.
I also consulted with small business owners on how to navigate human resources and how to hire the right people the first time, and that’s how I met my current business partner. I started out as a consultant for his IT company, and we worked so well together I just ended up being part of his company. Now I’m his business partner, and I own part of the company.
How do you feel that Tower Hill influenced your life and career?
Tower Hill’s motto—Multa Bene Facta—I always liked that about Tower Hill. A lot of the faculty embraced that and encouraged me. I was very awkward when I was at Tower Hill, and so even though I was encouraged to go to Tower Hill for my academic ability, it was the other parts of being a well-rounded student—playing sports, participating in the arts—that’s how I kind of fell into the career that I’m in now. I navigated through companies to figure out what needed to be done and could I do it, and that’s how I created my career along the way. I’m sad that I don’t have a degree, but at the same time it propelled me to figure out how to do things a different way. I’m very loyal to Tower Hill for teaching me that and teaching me to be open to lots of different experiences. I often felt like an outsider at Tower Hill, but in a lot of regards that made me more resilient, knowing that if I put my mind to something I could do it.
Who were some of your favorite teachers, and how did they influence you?
Mr. Baetjer, Jack Smith, Cathy Curry, Joe Smolko and Ms. T were all incredible. Mr. Morgan taught history, and his history class was a big part of the reason why I pursued a job at the U.S. Department of Treasury and got into politics for a little bit. They encouraged me not only to find my voice but to keep my voice and to listen to who I was, even if it meant that I stuck out like a sore thumb. They showed me that I was welcome at Tower Hill even if I didn’t look like everyone else or think like everyone else. That mindset is why I’ve been able to build a professional career without having a degree. I’m a business owner now because of them encouraging that independent thinking and that balance of Many Things Done Well. Even when I was scared and intimidated by certain situations, I was able to think, “I survived it in high school, I can survive it now.” That mindset was and is beneficial to me and pushed me throughout my life.
What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t have a degree or hasn’t taken a typical career path?
I would tell them not to let it hold them back. If they know that they have the ability to do a job, whether they have the ingrained knowledge or they’ve picked up the experience along the way, be confident in your ability to share that with a potential employer. There are some parents who took time off to raise their kids for a few years and say they have no skills to offer, and I would tell them, “Are you kidding? Time management, project management, financial planning—that’s all part of being a stay at home parent; it just looks different.” So it’s really being able to take a hard look at your skill set and figure out where that fits. I encourage folks if they’re not sure to find a professional coach to hone in on what that means and what those skills look like.
What advice would you give to current Tower Hill students?
Don’t be afraid to take a chance just because you don’t have all the skills or you don’t have the degree or qualifications. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by. Take a chance, because you might get an opportunity to learn as you go and create something while you’re doing it. Don’t disqualify yourself from an opportunity.