Women in Business welcome guest speaker Symone Opara


Photo by Hannah Anderson-Reporter

Women in Business Co-Presidents Brissa Castaneda (left) and Andrea Linette (right) welcome Symone Opara (middle).

Hannah Anderson and Taylor Love, Reporter and News Editor

On February 24, California Lutheran University’s Women in Business club brought in Symone Opara a successful executive at Microsoft, to share her journey.

Symone Opara leads a team of global technical program and project managers, and her team focuses on security specifically. 

“We ensure that the tools our support agents use to deliver support to our customers are functioning properly and appropriately,” Symone Opara said. 

Symone Opara said she and her team make sure the customer data and information within those tools remains secure. She was chosen to bring attention to successful women of color in honor of Black History Month. 

“Symone stands out because she works for such a large well known corporation and she has an executive position,” Co-President of the Women in Business club Andrea Linette said. 

According to Symone Opara, she spent the early years of her career moving jobs until she found the right position that she felt confident in at Microsoft. Her daughter, Zaria Opara, who currently attends Cal Lutheran, said she admires how hard working her mother is.

“Watching her work ethic and seeing how much it pays off is a reminder to me that if I work hard it will pay off. And with any failures that doesn’t mean to give up but to dust off the shoulders, remember what I’m working for, and try again,” daughter Zaria Opara said.

Symone Opara is now given the opportunity to motivate many more young aspiring business women and instill in them what she has already instilled within her daughter. 

“My mom is a good leader because of how confident and knowledgeable she is. She defies every standard people attempt to set. With her confidence she proves that with everything people have to deal with in the workforce, you can overcome and become stronger in the process,” Zaria Opara said.

Symone Opara said in her presentation that a strong leader will stand up for themselves in the workplace, and hold their values high. According to Symone Opara, a workplace that is inclusive to everybody based on race, ethnicity, sexuality or  disability is somewhere that cares about building an inclusive community within the office. A company that can look behind the physical barriers and appreciate people for their values is a place where she encourages others to work at.

Symone Opara said that there are other jobs that have contributed to her success at Microsoft. She discussed the kind of work it takes to manage a full time job, raising a family and having time to yourself.

“I think a lot of paths and experiences have led me to where I am, and one of those is driving to execution so really focused on getting things done in the timeline that things needed to be complete,” Symone Opara said.

While she was optimistic about the balance it takes to manage all of these important aspects of her life, Symone Opara said that there are certain obstacles she must overcome because she is a woman. She said she did not want to make the conversation about gender, but it was an important discussion to have.

“I really felt like I needed to fit into this box of what a man would do if he were in a particular situation versus what does Symone want to do, what is the right thing to do, even if I feel like people are going to say ‘you’re just saying that cause you’re a girl’,” Symone Opara said. 

Symone Opara shares what she believes to be the most important thing about working, regardless of the position or the profession: be true to yourself. 

“The only thing that I would tell anybody is number one to always bring your authentic self to the table, and probably one of the biggest lessons that I had to learn was that my way to be successful was not to act like a man,” Symone Opara said.