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Pioneer Public- Sandra Mervosh

Written By Lauren Clouser, Co-Features Editor

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After her father suffered a heart attack, Professor Sandra Mervosh found herself taking over the family company.

“I went from working on the inside with him literally in one afternoon to running the entire company,” Mervosh said.

Venture Graphics, a project management company, was founded by Mervosh’s father. Mervosh began working there after college. She had majored in psychology, and then decided she wanted to get a master’s degree in human resources to improve her managing skills.

“I really felt that it was more than just processing benefit forms, it really was about understanding people and enabling people to really reach the maximum of their potential,” Mervosh said. “And when you did that, the company succeeded.”

Mervosh said her first year of running the company was difficult, but she realized that she needed to make some key changes. Venture Graphics had a focus on individual print sales, and Mervosh decided they needed to expand.

“I had about a rough year, but I also realized from my education that if the company was going to be sustainable, we need to take it down a different path,” Mervosh said. “We need to start incorporating technology, we needed to look at more than just printing.”

Mervosh said she faced some challenges as a woman business owner.

“When you would go into a meeting what you said wasn’t always valued or respected,” Mervosh said.

Mervosh said she was once on a business weekend event where she was not included in the conversations. When the group got stuck in the airport, Mervosh said the men realized she had the largest corporation out of all of them.

“It was sort of humorous because during the conversation it turned out that I actually had the largest corporation…I could tell they were shocked and I sort of thought to myself, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t have ignored me for the last three days,’” Mervosh said.

Mervosh said that the ways she was treated differently were subtle, but still noticeable. 

“You would walk into meetings and they would shake a guy’s hand and pat him on the back, but they would walk over and kiss you on the cheek…By doing that you were signaling me out as different,” Mervosh said.

Mervosh said one of her proudest moments is when she was finally recognized as a business owner, and not just her father’s daughter.

“Someone introduced him as my father. And I thought ‘Oh my heavens I’ve actually made it’,” Mervosh said.

Mervosh has since sold Venture Graphics, and has become a full time professor to share her knowledge in business and human resources.

“Very few people have the opportunity to engage in the private industry and own their own business and experience that,” Mervosh said “And then to take and start a second career in academics where I can now share those experiences with my students.”

Mervosh said her favorite part of teaching is engaging with the students.

“The HR students are really a group of positive young individuals and they have amazing goals,” Mervosh said. “I like talking to them and I like sharing my ideas with them in any way I can help them at all in internships and shadowing or industry connections. I really enjoy engaging with the students a lot.”

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