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DECA Offers Business-Minded Students an Active Platform at Dublin High School

November 30, 2021

Dublin Unified School District (“DUSD”) students have returned from their traditional Thanksgiving break on the academic calendar. However, a reflection of the diversity of our students also includes other fall festivals including Moon Festival, Diwali and Chuseok. While they differ in purpose, each includes and element of gratitude and the hope for future prosperity/happiness. With that, OneDublin.org would like to express our thanks to the many Certificated and Paraprofessionals that literally go the extra mile to support our students in various extra-curricular activities. We elected to spotlight an organization that functions in both High School and Collegiate divisions.

Members of The Dublin DECA Chapter at the Dublin DECA’s Leadership Conference 2021. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

DECA is the Distributive Education Clubs of America. Formed in 1946, it features over 3,500 individual chapters in institutions across the nation. The purpose of DECA is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The Dublin DECA Chapter boasts a membership of about 85 students and is advised by Jodi Morgan of the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program (TVROP). We recently had the opportunity to attend the Dublin DECA’s Leadership Conference 2021 held prior to the holiday break. We visited with the Dublin DECA Chapter 2021-22 Vice-President Mannat Dhot and Club Advisor Jodi Morgan to gain their insights into the organization and to explore some of their goals. Ms. Dhot is presently a junior at Dublin High School.

OneDublin.org: Please explain the process of planning this event. How did you manage to effectively delegate the activities/actions so that the most members would be able to contribute?

Mannat Dhot: “I started planning this event at the start of September. I initially set goals and deadlines for myself on when I wanted to get certain aspects of planning completed and I am proud to say I was able to follow through on most of these deadlines. These deadlines helped me manage my time efficiently and kept my work in check. The first part of planning was figuring out what activities I wanted the students to participate in. Coming back from an entirely virtual year my goal for the conference was to make it as Interactive for students as possible and with this thought in mind I came up with the Innovation Brainstorm Idea, the Kahoot game, and the Small Business Panel. Consequently, my focus shifted to finding guest speakers for the event. I reached out to personal connections and tried to get speakers from various industries and backgrounds, in order to give students the most information possible. The planning for this event was done mostly by me in collaboration with our chapter’s presidents. On the day of the event, I assigned each officer a role (checking students in, bringing guest speakers backstage, running the kahoot game etc.) to ensure the event runs as smoothly as possible.”

The Dublin DECA Chapter Vice President (and DHS Junior), Mannat Dhot. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: There are many elements to DECA and ways to participate. Explain how the leadership/members of Dublin DECA have been able to balance the diversity of activities while providing a positive experience for all members. 

Dhot: “While DECA essentially is a business club, what I love most about the organization is the diversity of activities for members to participate in. For example, the Leadership Conference was an amazing opportunity for students looking to become entrepreneurs and wanting an example of different journeys others have taken. DECA is also a competitive club and our members participate in a wide range of competitions from the school up-to the international level. There is a wide range of events for competitions based on different interests students might have. There are competitive events based on everything from business law and Human Resources to Automobile and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. For students interested in going into the finance field we have the option to compete in the stock market game simulation, where students run their stock market portfolios. The leadership of DECA offers students access to participate in as many activities as possible, and by participating in ones closest to their liking students are able to have an overall positive experience.”

Ms. Doht introducing a panel discussion with local business leaders at Dublin DECA’s Leadership Conference 2021. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: The areas of STEM have been trending upwards for some time now. Yet, they are often in support of commerce. How might some of your peers view this partnership as it relates to their future career?

Dhot: “The thing I love most about the field of business is how versatile and relatable it is to any other industry. The goal of DECA is to prepare “emerging leaders” in a variety of career clusters. This essentially means that we want to help students practice their transferable skills such as collaboration, communication, adaptability, and public speaking so that they can apply this knowledge in college, the workplace and beyond. A lot of our students are interested in a partnership between the STEM and commerce fields and the idea of transferrable skills especially apply here. In order to support students who may not want to go into the traditional business field, we try to give them as much background as necessary to be successful in the future career of their choice. For example, at the Leadership Conference we had one panelist from the tech industry, one from the entertainment (film-making) industry, one with a background in law, and one with a background in public office. This gave students the chance to hear from as many people as possible, supporting the partnership between commerce and STEM.”

The Dublin DECA Leadership Conference 2021 was held in the Center for the Performing Arts at Dublin High School. It was an appropriate environment to allow attendees to be safely spaced and to experience guest speakers both online and on stage. The lead-off presenter was Nik Sharma who has local roots and has forged a robust profile in the spaces of digital marketing, investing and venture partnerships. Presently, he supports multiple business channels from the New York Metropolitan area and is a member of the Forbes 2019 30 Under 30 category of Marketing & Advertising. Via video collaboration, Mr. Sharma shared some less than glamorous professional experiences including trying to find a repair person for his boss’ messenger bag in San Francisco. But this also led to hatching a marketing strategy that helped to catapult hint water into a major segment player in less than two years. We extended an invitation to the Dublin DECA Advisor Jodi Morgan, MBA to offer her thoughts on the recently concluded conference and what is ahead for the organization in 2022.

Dublin DECA Advisor Jodi Morgan, MBA. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: The first guest speaker of last Friday’s event highlighted the importance of alternative marketing channels – in one case, moving away from traditional retail to direct to consumer sales. What are some of the significant changes that you’ve witnessed over the past decade and how might that marketing space continue to evolve?

Jodi Morgan: “As a teacher, I feel obligated to stay updated with the use of technology, social media, digital marketing, etc. so my students are up-to-date with the industry as they prepare for their future. I’ve transitioned to using e-textbooks and virtual simulations to enhance student experience.”

OneDublin.org: As a club advisor, one primary role is to provide an environment that stimulates students and empowers them to succeed. What has been rewarding about teaming with a group of students that are enthused/curious about business? 

Morgan: “DECA is a Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) governed by the Department of Education’s Career Technical Education. For this reason, we are not a “club”. Students’ are required to be enrolled in a CTE Marketing course in order to participate in DECA. DECA advisors are often the teachers who students remember long after graduating. They have unparalleled access to resources to enhance the classroom experience, bring learning to life and motivate students. The ultimate reward is when students update us with their career progress.”

OneDublin.org: There is still much to accomplish for Dublin DECA chapter in 2021-22. Please shed some light on what is upcoming on the club calendar. 

Morgan: “Currently, we have 25 members competing in a nationwide online Stock Market Game. Students are provided with $100,000 to invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. This event began September 13th and ends December 10th. What an amazing learning experience! 

We participate in Challenges that entail utilizing project management, market research, marketing planning and implementation skills such as the Business Pitch Challenge, Knowledge Matters Virtual Business Simulations, Ethical Leadership Challenge, etc. We’re currently working on a marketing plan and fundraiser for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The project is titled Social Impact Leader of Tomorrow. We’ll be collaborating with Dublin High School leadership, student body and staff. We’re looking forward to executing this project with enthusiasm! We’ll definitely keep you posted.

In January, we’ll attend our local, district Career Development Conference hosted by the San Ramon Marriott. This conference provides a venue for DECA’s Competitive Events Program as well as additional career and leadership development programs.”

It was inspiring to witness this dedicated group of students experience the fruits of their labor on a Friday after regular scheduled release. In addition, it was truly affirming to see the influence of the organization’s advisor. OneDublin.org offers our thanks to all staff that extend themselves to share their passion, expertise, and counsel.

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