Why Irvine?

When people are looking to start or move a business to Irvine, it always starts with answering the question: Why Irvine? Everyone knows that there are certainly less expensive places to start or locate a business – any city in North Dakota or Alabama for starters – but there isn’t a smarter or better place to start or locate a business than Irvine, California. And that all began with the stunningly forward thinking vision that transformed 93,000 acres into an economic powerhouse and one of the most livable cities in the United States. 

Everyone knows the story of the Irvine Company. The family who owned 93,000 acres in what is now Orange County, and the company directors that followed, took a long view of this land and its place in the evolution of the area. They adopted a powerful proposition that the land, and all those who would live and work on it, would be best served by a Master Plan that fostered the highest quality of life through preservation of “nonrenewable” assets and resources. 

An encroaching sprawl south from Los Angeles compelled the Irvine Company to take stewardship of the land in the 1960s in ways that would shape the City of Irvine and other communities in the area into the 21st century. They conceived of artfully designed neighborhoods and villages, acres of open space and livable neighborhood centers and regional centers that would support an economic powerhouse of Fortune 500 companies and robust, cutting edge industry clusters in the Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology and Digital Arts & Media, just to name the top performers.  

The notion that a balance of “working, living, learning and recreational environments-all integrated in a logical and aesthetic fashion” was the core value that defined the design, its implementation and its sustainability. And it stood in stark contrast to how other communities and cities in the U.S. had evolved throughout the decades characterized by cycles, changing economic drivers and personalities, demographic patterns and investment, or lack thereof.

Because the connection between people, their environment, livability and economic well-bring was the guiding principle, the master plan approached every development detail with the precision of a neurosurgeon. The planners integrated their plan with the existing freeways and developed six lane arterials to increase mobility and accessibility while employing a system of connecting roads into and around the residential villages. Infrastructure and supporting 

systems were designed to anticipate growth as well as diminishing demand on precious natural resources. Recognizing the efficiency, convenience and environmental advantages of proximity to work centers, commercial developments were strategically located close to villages. Commercial corridors were swathed in green space and supported by systems of recycled water and sustainable landscape management practices. Unique residential villages were surrounded by open areas, recreational amenities and thousands of acres of preserved land. 

More than 50,000 acres of the original 93,000 acres have been preserved for parks, trails and natural open space. The Irvine Company understood the value of balance in the sustainability equation. The federal government and the State of California agreed when they assigned 

National Landmark status to this acreage recognizing its ecological diversity and environmental significance. 

Spectacular office buildings rose in the Irvine Business Corridor. Beautifully manicured office parks attracted global companies. What would become global companies like Edwards Life Sciences and Allergan were born here. And world-class lifestyle, retail and entertainment complexes emerged, attracting residents and visitors from around the world. 


Because education is essential to talent development, attraction and retention. 

Education, considered essential to a sustainable community, was, and still is, a priority. Nearly every village in Irvine has a school associated with it.  With the addition fifty years ago of the University of Irvine, the new city could grow side-by-side with a burgeoning center of learning. Now, the University attracts a global student body with a well-earned reputation for research and development.  Both would prosper in each other’s company. Rooted in 

Irvine’s premier K-12 educational system and its fifteen university and college campuses within its boundaries, Irvine can claim an enviable 96 percent high school graduation rate and 66 percent advanced degree rate. 

And that’s just the beginning. Innovative public-private partnerships have flourished supporting entrepreneur workshops, academies and camps for high school and community and four year college students. Competitions for inventions, business plan development and the next big idea have been nurtured here for over a decade. UCI’s new Institute for Innovation promises to greatly enhance an already strong start-up eco-system of hubs, collaborative work spaces, mentoring, capital, incubators and accelerators. All of these factors trade on the strength of Irvine’s reputation and the area’s capacity to generate world-class talent emerging from our schools and colleges.   


Because sustainability is a core value, not an option.

For those who work here, nearly doubling the City’s population during the day, and those who live here, the vision and stewardship of the Irvine Company which is protected and nurtured by the City of Irvine, is clearly in evidence every day. 

We are surrounded by rolling hills; city blocks of green space; sumptuous office park environments; 

fountains and parks sustained with award-winning water reclamation systems; sparkling, well-maintained Energy Star or LEED certified office buildings; wide, beautifully manicured boulevards and thoroughfares built to manage and ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions; and clean, safe streets, office centers and neighborhoods.

It takes everyone working together to be named Safest City in America (population over 100,000) since 2005 and America’s Best Run City. Irvine is always in the top five of ranked best cities for families, to raise children, and for young adults. 


Because business thrives where the environment is fertile.

Six of the top twelve largest private companies in Orange County are headquartered in Irvine: Advantage Sales & Marketing, First Team Real Estate, Golden State Foods, Irvine Company, Fitness International and Vizio. Four out of five of the largest publically traded companies in Orange County are located in Irvine: Allergan, Broadcom, Western Digital and Edwards Lifesciences.

Irvine is home to four of the fastest-growing, most sustainable, highest potential median salary industry clusters: Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Information Technology, Digital Arts & Media and Energy Efficiency. 

The results of our Business Outreach Rallies and business surveys are further proof that Irvine delivers. Over 70 

percent of Irvine businesses surveyed say that they are completely or very satisfied with Irvine as their headquarters for business. Seventy-one percent describe their business performance has met, exceeded or well-exceeded expectations. Over 60 percent of Irvine businesses 

are preparing to add employees or expand in the next twelve months. 


Why Irvine? Because this city cultivates the assets and resources that contribute to success.  

It was that original Irvine Company vision and commitment to its values of responsible development, preservation of open and green space, appreciation for scale and preparation for growth that make the City of Irvine unique. It is the City’s ongoing commitment to that vision that fuels the economic powerhouse capable of offering and sustaining the highest quality of life environment. 

This compelling combination is what attracts and retains global companies, top CEOs, dreamers and entrepreneurs, start-ups and growth companies, the best and most highly skilled talent, and foreign and domestic investment.

Our business community makes us stronger. Our public and private partnerships empower us. Our diversity energizes us. Our quality of life inspires us. Our commitment to innovation in all things distinguishes us. And helping business grow motivates us. 

That’s what makes Irvine extraordinary.

Mars Vs. Venus? Differing Views on Homeownership Between Genders

The unique challenges women have faced in the past and continue to face today make owning a home a tangible sign of success for a woman. A woman’s home is a space to creatively express desires and dreams and to evoke certain feelings. From a practical standpoint, it’s an investment and source of security that remains a constant regardless of her marital status.

The NAWRB 2018 Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) reveals some of the factors and trends that have contributed to an increase in women pursuing homeownership on their own. Single women and mothers are attracted to homeownership as a source of stability, a means of wealth-building, a safe place to raise their children and a sanctuary to call their own. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single women have outpaced single men in homeownership for the last thirty years.
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Nobody Wants to Buy My House for Bitcoin

Palm trees gently sway as the trade winds scatters the scent of flowers throughout the neighborhood. When I close my eyes this is how I see the little piece of paradise I own in the eponymous Waikiki Beach neighborhood in Hawaii. It bothers me to no end that nobody else wants to own my little piece of paradise that I am trying to sell for the paltry sum of 20 Bitcoin.

What is a Bitcoin you may ask? And what is it worth? The first question is challenging to answer because it is technical, but essentially Bitcoin is a digital currency that is secured by a cryptographic key. This is why Bitcoin and similar tokens are collectively known as cryptocurrencies.

The other half of the power of Bitcoin is that it is decentralized, meaning there is no single place the transactions are approved and recorded; instead, this information is spread across the world inside every Bitcoin. The second question is simpler because it is a number, but challenging because this amount changes frequently. The current exchange rate to the U.S. dollar is $6339 to one dollar, but tomorrow it could just as easily be $5,500 or $7,000.

Why did I think selling my house with Bitcoin would be easy? Because it was touted to be this way. Sell your house for Bitcoin, there are endless buyers from Asia lining up to purchase and send Bitcoin directly to your wallet. It just isn’t that simple, as the ecosystem to make these transactions barely exists.

Blockchain for Real Estate
Propy is the company I was trying to make this happen through. They are a real estate listing platform that gives a market to sell the property, and helps with the escrow functions of completing the paperwork as well. They even have an arm where they are applying blockchain technology to issue deeds.

The technology is not the problem. They have good technology. Certainly the world of the future has deeds hashed onto blockchain, as this move from the physical constraints of the local recorder’s office to cyberspace. Just like the old microfiche records, blockchain contains a time stamp showing the exact moment when it was recorded, and the documents are lined up end to end together. This makes for a strong audit trail, and in the long run this should bring down the cost of title insurance.

Trouble with using Propy, though, was it actually did not let me list my house for sale in Bitcoin. Or rather it let me put the amount in, but then it converted that to U.S. dollars and used that amount for my listing price. I wasn’t particularly impressed by that feature, but I was still hopeful I would receive offers and be able to sell my lovely slice of paradise.

Is the Bear Market the Cause?
So what then is the problem? Could it be market forces at play? Bitcoin is down from a high that crested over $20,000 this past winter. The trough of this wave plays into investor’s backronym-inspired motto “HODL” that carries the common definition of “hold on for dear life.” This has become an anthem among cryptocurrency investors, of which many pride themselves on never selling their tokens.

The bear market could certainly be an issue as when the markets are down nobody wants to sell. This makes sense, because then, of course, the market will go up once a purchase was made using Bitcoin, and the same nobody will regret having traded their cryptocurrency in on something so banal as a condo in Hawaii. This is collectively known as “FOMO” or the “fear of missing out.”

What About a Lack of Bitcoin Loans?
Perhaps the problem is the lack of loans for buyers. Maybe there aren’t that many crypto millionaires out there throwing hundred dollar bills around who would want to buy, and the more savvy real estate investors always prefer loans so as to maximize cash flow and minimize taxes. I am certainly that investor when I buy properties, and I’ve owned about 20 houses by this point, so I’m not a novice by any means.

However, there are now loan platforms using cryptocurrency, so that cannot be the problem either. The company SALT now issues loans in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, as well as in U.S. dollars. So basically someone could use their Bitcoin as collateral and buy my house, then still have a loan, right? Not quite so fast. As the IRS considers cryptocurrencies to be property and not currency, that means loans repaid in cryptocurrency won’t necessarily be treated as interest paid on a loan. This would be the equivalent of sending out individual lots of property to your lender and calling it interest. That wouldn’t really fly.

The Real Problem
Looking back on this, and reviewing my ad for this article, the real problem is clear: I didn’t put the required effort in to get good traction with my listing. My photos just don’t give a good indication of the property or the lifestyle. I think when Propy’s system converted my asking price from Bitcoin to U.S. dollar I must have lost interest and said I would circle back around when I had more time. Now three months later I have even less time then when I said that, as is typical.

Well on the bright side, at this rate I may keep owning my tropical retreat long enough to actually have the time to visit it again.

By Crystal Stranger,
EA, author of The Small Business
Tax Guide, Founder of PeaCounts

sheCenter(FOLD) – Dr. Chitra Dorai

Former IBM Fellow, Master Inventor, VP, CTO Cognitive Services, IBM Services, Member of IBM Industry Academy & Academy of Technology

Dr. Chitra Dorai

Dr. Chitra Dorai, a Former IBM Fellow and expert in AI and Cognitive Sciences, takes NAWRB along the journey of her life. A precocious child in Chennai, India, who dreamed of becoming a brain scientist, she traveled to the United States to realize her aspirations, ultimately earning IBM’s highest honor and helping thousands of homeowners during the financial crisis. From her obsession with popular culture trivia to her experience being a mother, this influential woman is taking on the computer. 

NAWRB: Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

Dr. Chitra Dorai: I grew up in a sunny South Indian city called Chennai, previously known as Madras, located on the south eastern coast of India. Chennai is one of the largest cosmopolitan cities in India and is well known as an economic, cultural, and educational hub in South India. In fact, it is often called the “Detroit” of India because many of the automobile manufacturers have their Indian operations there. It is also technology-centric. A lot of multinational companies, including IBM, have their IT service delivery centers in Chennai. At the same time, it is a city of contrasts. It continues to be traditional and conventional in certain ways, culturally-rich and conservative, compared to other major cities in India. It is famous for its soaring temples, luxurious silk, and centuries-old musical traditions.

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Innovative Ways Women Entrepreneurs Can Gain Access to Capital

Capital is pivotal for the success of any entrepreneur to launch a sustainable and lucrative business. Traditional routes of access to capital are changing as technological development creates new avenues, and the distance between entrepreneur and investor decreases due to an increase in fast and efficient communication. 

Women entrepreneurs have notoriously faced hardships in gaining access to capital, from lack of information and resources and local and state government assistance, to facing cultural biases from investors. A 2014 report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship states women business owners received 16 percent of small business loans and 17 percent of loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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NAWRB Response to the United States Forest Service’s NEPA Proposed Rulemaking

You don’t have to live in homes like the hobbits did in The Lord of The Rings to be among nature’s finest gifts. While making sure we are building enough homes to meet the demand of the rising population is important, we also need to consider the effects of construction and our daily lives on the environment. More environmentally-friendly homes are being built with sustainable resources, and there has been an increased focus on adapting our buildings to the land instead of forcing it to adapt to us.  

Earlier this year, NAWRB had the opportunity to write a request for comment (RFC) to the United States Forest Service’s proposal to revise its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures to better facilitate its goals of protecting the health and sustainable use of our national forests and increasing efficient environmental analysis. NEPA plays a key role in this by outlining the process by which the agency conducts its analysis and makes crucial decisions regarding the National Forest System lands. 

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The Investing in Opportunity Act: Private-Public Partnerships Helping Low-Income Communities

In December 2017 Congress passed the heavily-debated GOP tax bill, with highlighted features such as a $1.5 trillion tax cut, lowered tax rates for individuals and corporations, a cap on mortgage interest deduction at $750,000, and a doubling of the standard deduction and child tax credit. The effects of these changes might make an impact on affordable housing in high-tax states as Americans adapt to decreasing home prices, new caps on mortgage and tax deductions and limits on HELOC deductibility. 

While the new tax bill has stirred concern over housing affordability in states with high taxes, especially those located in the Northeast, West Coast and South Florida, attention has now been focused on an aspect of the bill that could help rather than hinder distressed, low-income communities. According to the 2017 Distressed Communities Index by the Economic Innovation Group, one in six Americans, approximately 17 percent of the population, live in economically distressed communities, and the average state has 15.2 percent of its population living in these struggling areas. 

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Women on Boards: California Bill SB 826

NAWRB wrote a formal letter in support of 2020 Women on Boards to the Banking and Finance Committee of the California State Assembly regarding the SB 826 bill, which requires public companies without women board members to hire at least one woman by the end of 2019. The bill is an important step in diversity and inclusion, as well as for the advancement of women, although it should be adopted with a mindset that acknowledges gender diversity as a multifaceted issue that will require a concerted effort at all employment levels. 

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Historic Milestones for Women’s Independence: Fair Housing Act & H.R. 5050

In the year 2018 we have observed milestones for the history of women’s social and economic independence. It marks the anniversary of two important pieces of legislation that helped women achieve economic growth through business ownership as well as homeownership—two interrelated tools that are pivotal for personal wealth building.

The Fair Housing Act, an act that tackled discrimination in the housing sector, has been in effect for 50 years, while the H.R. 5050 Women’s Business Ownership Act, which made it possible for women to take out a loan without a man’s signature, has been helping more women become entrepreneurs for 30 years.

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sheCenter(FOLD) – Gina Diez Barroso

President and CEO, Grupo Diarq; Founder, Fundación Pro-Educación Centro and Fundación Diarq; and Chariman, Dalia Empower

Gina Diez Barroso

Gina Diez Barroso, founder of the first university in Mexico City focused on creative studies, and the only Mexican belonging to the C200, never takes no for answer. In an exclusive interview with NAWRB, Diez Barroso takes us through her childhood in Mexico and her journey to becoming a resilient entrepreneur. Diez Barroso shares how she helps women leave abusive relationships and reach their full potential by teaching them to own their power.

NAWRB:What obstacles did you face while developing Centro, the first university in Mexico City that specializes in creative studies? How did you overcome them?

Gina Diez Barroso: The first obstacle was they didn’t believe that we needed a new university, and they didn’t believe creativity was important. We spoke from authorities and business people, to everybody involved in this. I had to get together a diverse group of people— creative thinkers, business people, academics—who were working not for me but for my vision and my passion. They were working with me. We also hired market analysts to do a study, and the study predicted that it wasn’t going to work and that I shouldn’t do it. When I was young, I never took no for an answer. I used to think this was a bad thing, but now I take it as a compliment.

When I believe that something needs to be done, I do not take no for an answer. After having the results from the market study that it was not going to work, I said we are going to go ahead and do it. So, we were fought against government regulations, and people saying it was not going to work, because we believed the world needed more creative people and to mix creativity with business.

It took eight and a half years to create, and has been running for 14 years now. We have graduated 1600 students and have 3000 enrolled now. For five years it has been the best creative university in the country, and it is the most difficult to get into. We believe that students that can get in should get in, even if they don’t have the money. Thirty-five percent of students are on scholarship.

NAWRB: Centro offers a variety of creative disciplines, such as Interior Architecture, Film and Television, Industrial Design, and Textile and Fashion Design. Why is it important for universities to offer creative studies? What effect do they have on culture and society?

Gina Diez Barroso: We are adding digital engineering and digital media because this is the future. Compared to other universities that offer a four-year degree, we teach 1,100 more hours on business and entrepreneurship. When students graduate, they understand how to create business plans, how to do an elevator pitch, how to ask for money, and how to do legal writing for a business. They are business people—they are building a creative economy.

Schools are as good as their students. We follow up with our graduates, and most of our graduates have their own business, and they’re employing many other young adults. We are interested in creating a culture of entrepreneurs. That is not often how the creative world works, so we are very happy with the outcome.

NAWRB: How do you express your creativity in your professional and personal life?

Gina Diez Barroso: Every single day in every single way. I love to see what is missing in the world and fix it, and the way I like to fix it is through creative thinking. I think I express my creativity in the way I work, the way I act, and the way I fix things. That’s the way I operate.

As far as my hobbies, I like art, design, painting, collecting art, and going to auctions. In my spare time, I love to go to the theater and exhibitions. Everything is related to creativity. I don’t see myself ever doing anything that is not creative. I also love storytelling. I think it is the most wonderful thing that we can do. When I meet someone that is good at storytelling, I love to spend time with this person.

So, I do things that are—a hundred percent— the right side of the brain. I believe now that the left and the right side of the brain need to be viewed as one. Although I am a creative person, I am also a business person, so that line needs to be raised.

NAWRB: Fundacion Diarq, your non-profit organization, works towards eradicating domestic violence and preventing bullying in schools. What prompted you to address these issues?

Gina Diez Barroso: I always thought that my life would impact women, in that everything I do should positively impact the outcome of women. One of the worst things that I think any woman should never take is physical violence, although I am also against economic violence, psychological violence and all other kinds of violence against women.

I think physical violence is one of the worst things affecting women. Once they decide to leave the house where they live with the person who is doing these things to them, they have nowhere to go.  There are many hotlines and facilities that I admire a lot, but these women need a place to go, and that is where nobody was taking action.

We decided to work with hospitals where women and children can go for three to four months. We supply them with a psychological evaluation, and we teach them to work on things they can do when they leave the house. After four months, we give them a new identity (in some cases), we find them a place to live, and move them to the new place. We also extend help for alcoholism and animals.

We set it up so that if they have a new partner, and they think they might get into another violent situation, they can go with or without a partner to seek extended help for breaking the cycle of violence. We decided to act to prevent bullying because many children that are victims of domestic violence become bullies in schools.

NAWRB: What are the best ways we can address domestic violence, or help women leave abusive relationships?

Gina Diez Barroso: That is through education. One of the important issues for women who get into these situations is that they are very weak and undervalued. Empower is a word that I hate because being “empowered” is someone else giving a power that they can take away from you. I believe women own their power, need to know that they have it, and know how to make sure that nobody will ever take that power away from them. So, once women know that they have it, they will never be victims of violence.

That is why I decided to start Dalia Empower. It is an agency that shows women they have power and can do anything they want with their life. If they want to be a top executive woman in the workforce, they will be able to do that. We train them to be women entrepreneurs in many public sectors and companies.

We also help men to educate women. Some men want to help and they do not know how. Men are segregated out of the equation, so we want to bring them to the table as the perfect partners to help women reach their full potential. Dalia has already created 85 courses. 

NAWRB: Congratulations on being one of only two Hispanic women in the C200. What does this achievement mean to you as Mexican women are underrepresented in the industry?

Gina Diez Barroso: I’ve been a member for 18 years and it has been an amazing achievement not only because I am Mexican but because of its great work. I am close to many of the other women on there who have helped me a lot when I had any problems, and when they needed anything I tried to help them. It also had an important impact on the way they felt about my culture and how they felt that Mexico was. They didn’t have any idea about how Mexico really was until they came. It has been a great achievement because the C200 is not just about being good at what you do; it’s about giving back, from yourself to other women. I am very grateful and happy about what I have accomplished there.

NAWRB: What advice would you give other women who aspire to be entrepreneurs and business owners?

Gina Diez Barroso: I always advise them to find a purpose in their life, a purpose in their passion, and to not take no for an answer. I really believe that women can achieve anything that they want if they really go for it. Of course you need a certain helmet to be an entrepreneur, but women can do it. I believe they have to get together because nothing can be done alone—that is for sure. They need to get a group of people together that believe in what they believe in. If you get the right group of people, anything can be done.

NAWRB: How was your experience in your education system, and how did it shape your life?

Gina Diez Barroso: I lost my father when I was very young, and I think that shaped my life. I needed to build resilience, and I had two options—I could either not do it or do it for my own sake, which I did. I grew up with my grandfather and my grandfather from my mom’s side, and they were people who never took no for an answer. They were people that did whatever they wanted against all odds, so I think that was one of my trainings. I did it by myself with not many people believing in me or in what I was doing. So, I think that is one of the things that people should do: believe in themselves.

NAWRB: What inspired your interest in real estate development and design?

Gina Diez Barroso: That was always my interest. I always saw the buildings and real estate, and I thought that was something I wanted to do. I was frustrated when I was really young because we had amazing houses from the 20s, 30s and 40s in Mexico and architects would come and demolish them. I thought when I grew up I was going to save those houses, and that was the first thing that I wanted to do. That is what triggered me to want to be involved in real estate.

NAWRB: What was your childhood like?

Gina Diez Barroso: I was number four of five children. My father died when I was 11 years old from a plane crash, and we were brought up by my grandfather, who was an amazing visionary person. We grew up in a very creative world. We looked at art and telecommunication. My grandfather owned a television business, so we were very involved with media. He was concerned about helping those who were less fortunate and with education, so we grew up with that in mind. I’ve had amazing role models from my father and my grandfather.

NAWRB: What opportunities and challenges do girls and women face in Mexico?

Gina Diez Barroso: They face a lot of challenges and a lack of opportunities. I think it’s a tough environment for women with social and economic poverty. Now it’s changing, but for a long time it wasn’t that easy. The government has helped with the social opportunities in Mexico for women to try and do something. Many women in Mexico are single mothers, which is a form of work, as well. There’s a huge informal economy in Mexico, so that makes it difficult to build wealth, but women make it. They make it with three or four children. It’s amazing.

NAWRB: What goals do you plan to achieve in the future?

Gina Diez Barroso: I would like to see Dahlia Empower continue the economic advancement of women, not only in Mexico but in all the Northern Hemisphere, and I would love to see that grow for the empowerment of women in all the Americas.

NAWRB: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Gina Diez Barroso: I am an open book! My academics were a disaster. I had very poor education training. I didn’t achieve a masters degree, and I started my career early. I wish I would have earned a PhD in something, but I didn’t. I have an undergraduate degree in design.

NAWRB: What is something you would add to your bucket if you had more time?

Gina Diez Barroso: I would love to add education for K-12 in a very different way than there is now.

NAWRB: What should be included in the education of young girls that will help them flourish in the corporate world?

Gina Diez Barroso: The education of young girls should include creative thinking, no matter what they study. I think STEM should be STEAM, because STEAM has the “A” for Arts and Creativity, or Arts and Innovation. I think if you want to study STEM, you should do STEAM to include arts and innovation, because then you would become like Steve Jobs—someone who will change the world—not just a scientist or mathematician. You need to be an engineer, scientist, or mathematician, and a creative thinker.