Thursday, June 22

UCLA alumna Elizabeth Ghaffari to share life experiences at Women in Leadership Event


Elizabeth Ghaffari

Elizabeth Ghaffari Sarah Ravani / Daily Bruin


Originally from New England, Elizabeth Ghaffari felt like a small fish in a large pool when she came to UCLA to complete her graduate studies in the 1970s.

Although she was forced to pay out-of-state fees on her own and learn to assimilate to Los Angeles culture by trying to get rid of her East Coast accent, Ghaffari said attending UCLA was one of the smartest decisions she ever made.

Now, Ghaffari is the president and CEO of Technology Place Inc., a small business in Santa Monica, and is coming to share her life experience with UCLA students at the Women in Leadership Event.

“Her story is valuable and unique, and is similar to what we hope will be our own story,” said Luz Maria Kumpel, General Representative 3′s program director and a third-year psychology student.

Ghaffari grew up in Massachusetts and attended American University in Washington D.C. as an undergraduate student, where she received her degree in political science and constitutional law in 1968.

In 1973, she received her master’s degree in science and management from UCLA.

Since Ghaffari had to pay her own student fees, she engaged in several work-study programs. Her business work-study programs focused on transportation and housing, which allowed her to work in small teams to present the various business cases.

“It was expensive for me to go to UCLA at that time, so I can certainly sympathize with the challenges. However, that multidisciplinary exposure was invaluable to me,” Ghaffari said.

She met her husband at UCLA and together they moved to Iran in 1975, where they stayed until 1978.

In Iran, she was able to put the experience she gained at UCLA to use, analyzing business cases by working at the Iran Center for Management Studies.

Ghaffari said she not only had the opportunity to learn the language but was inspired by the women she met and worked with.

“My husband’s aunt was one of the first female medical doctors trained in Russia,” Ghaffari said. “She became a member of the International Women’s Association. She was an inspiration.”

Through her worldwide experiences, Ghaffari was able to reach her goal by founding her own company in 1988, Technology Place Inc.

“In the late ’80s, it was very rare for a woman to go out and form her own business ““ form her own profit business ““ and to do it in the technology field,” Ghaffari said.

Ghaffari said the point of her business is to understand the different adaptations of technology through the years.

Through their wide-scale technological knowledge base, Ghaffari advises and consults various businesses to help them become effective in business technology and assists the businesses in reaching their goals by integrating electronic components.

In addition to running her own business, Ghaffari conducted Champion Boards through Technology Place Inc., where she focused on how companies communicate with their boards of directors and ensured that businesses understand the technological changes.

Through the Champion Boards, Ghaffari also analyzed the trends and issues relating to women on various boards of directors and how those women are unique.

In 2009, Ghaffari published her book, “Outstanding in Their Field: How Women Corporate Directors Succeed,” which she said provided readers with a snapshot of the women who sat on California boards from 2006 and 2007.

Ghaffari wrote the biographies of 15 women who each took alternate paths to achieve their high standing, many of whom were also UCLA alumnae.

“I was fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to talk to these incredible women and was able to present their real stories, and not the hyperbole of the media,” Ghaffari said.

Ghaffari has been cooperative and a huge asset to UCLA in her willingness to help UCLA students, especially women, achieve leadership positions even with the current economic climate, said Thach Nguyen, USAC General Representative 3, whose office co-sponsored the event with the Office of Residential Life.

“I am interested in speaking to women’s groups of all ages, certainly women at UCLA, which I think has the opportunity to add women to leadership,” Ghaffari said.

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