Monday, November 16, 2009

A Courageous Beauty Interview: Mrs. Corporate America 2009-Sonja Fisher

Mrs. Corporate America is the married title so this queen is the sister-queen to Ms. Corporate America. Both ladies have wonderful stories to tell.

Angie: How did you learn about pageants? 

Sonja: I watched pageants since I was a little girl with my mother.  The Miss America and Miss USA pageant. It was like our Superbowl every year :)

Angie: What is your platform?  

Sonja: My platform is Women in Technology.  I am the voice for women excelling in Technology within Corporate America and outside of Corporate America.

Angie: How do you build your platform/voice and promote your work?  

Sonja: I have been building my platform since 1987 when I was in college.  In college, I was a co-founder of a national sorority for women in technology.  This sorority, ASK Women in Technical Studies has grown to over 7 chapters worldwide and touched over 700 women's lives over the course of the organization. I also promote my platform by speaking to school groups of all ages and I also speak inside corporate america.  I also am a member of many networking groups and contribute my time to them.   To name a few I am a member of PBWC, WITI, NAFE, NAWBO, ASK Women in Technology, Team Women and Heartlink.  Currently I am even writing a book on my platform.  I am also working on my dissertation at Argosy University dedicated to Women in Technology.  I am currently doing ground breaking research in this area.

Angie: Why did you decide to compete? 

Sonja: I decided to compete because it has always been a dream of mine to win a national pageant and also to promote my platform, Women in Technology.  I also thought it would be great to meet women all over the United States.

Angie: Was this your first pageant?

Sonja: No I have competed in 9 other pageants prior to this one.

Angie: I didn't even realize there were that many (and tons more) until I began this interview series! Was/is competition scary? 

Sonja: It can be when you see how wonderful everyone is.  Competition is so tough and you just want to win for many reasons even though there are so many good candidates to choose from, you hope you're good enough.  You never know what the judges are looking for. You can do your best to prepare and hope the judges like what you bring to the table.

Angie: What personal fear did you have to overcome?   

Sonja: My fear has always been public speaking. The first pageant I did I forgot everything I was going to say in the talent competition and the speech competition.  I had to be raked off the stage in front of 3000 people. Ever since 1986, I had a fear of public speaking but with alot of hard work of have been able to overcome my fears.  I attended many Toastmasters meetings as well as speak whenever I could to overcome my fears. Now I am speaking to huge audiences with no fear.

Angie: What about your first competition, were you super confident?  

Sonja: No I wasn't that confident due to my weight, size and also my public speaking fears.   Pageants have really helped me become who I am today.  It got easier the more I did. I owe who I am today to pageants.

Angie: What did you have to learn to compete? 

Sonja:  I had to learn how to be confident. I also had to learn how to speak, as well adapt to a sense of style.  I also worked on fitness and interviewing.   I worked on becoming the best I could be and really learned to just be me.

Angie: Tell us about what you have been able to do as Mrs. Corporate America 2009:

Sonja: I am currently Mrs. Corporate America 2009-2010. I give up my crown in March 2010. 
I have been able to really get my platform on Women in Technology major exposure.  I have appeared in numerous magazines, talk shows and have done many public speeches and appearances.  I also have been picked up for my book by a publisher.  It truly has been a life changing opportunity for me.

Angie:  Please tell us about your goal, why it's been a goal, and what it means to you?

Sonja: My goal is to transform Corporate America to empower corporations and women to reach executive positions in the technology sector.   I would like to see more women in the technology space achieve their goals, dreams and executive positions. Someday I would like to see the same amount of women leaders as men leaders in corporations.

Angie: What do you still want to achieve? 

Sonja: Someday I will run my own company or be a leader of corporation in the technology sector.

Angie: There's an idea in society that pageants are just skin deep. How would you answer that?

Sonja: I totally disagree with this statement.  Pageants are the opportunity to meet friends and allow you to gain confidence and discover your own strengths and weaknesses.  Pageants make you improve upon yourself. It is the best self help training program around.   They really make you well rounded by increasing fitness levels, confidence, speaking, image, interviewing, communication and people skills.  All of these skills are needed to be successful in the real world!  What better way to learn these skills by having fun in pageants. Pageants also make you strong and teach you how to deal with competition.

Angie: The media has given Americans the idea that pageant girls/women are not intelligent and accomplished. What kind of an education do you have? 

Sonja: I am very accomplished and intelligent and I have done 10 pageants.
My education consists of the following:
High School Diploma
BS in Mathematics at University of Minnesota
BS in Statistics at University of Minnesota
Minor in Psychology at University of Minnesota
MBA at University of St. Thomas in Entrepreneurship
Currently doing Doctorate/PHD in Business at Argosy University.  I just have my dissertation left.

Angie: What is your "day job?" 

Sonja: I work for Oracle as a Principal Software Consultant in Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing.

Angie: Do you have other creative talents you pursue?

Sonja: I am also an actress, host, public speaker, image consultant and model.   As far as hobbies  I am a marathon runner, tennis player, painter and drawer.

Angie: Do you think it is important for a person to look their best? 

Sonja: I do because when you look your best you feel your best.   You bring confidence and a magnetic aura into a room when you look your best.  Others will notice this and be drawn to you.

Angie: What do you hope to achieve with your title long term? 

Sonja:  I would like to touch as many woman's lives a possible to inspire them to get into technology and management/executive roles in Corporate America.  I want to be the face of this success.

Angie: Would you share about your fashion favorites, flair, or a tip that makes you feel beautiful?

Sonja: I feel beautiful when I have the best outfit on that fits and enhances my curvy body.   I also feel beautiful just being me.

Angie: What are your plans after your title ends?  

Sonja: I will publish my book and continue my work with my platform for Women in Technology.  I will continue to work hard in my career at Oracle and move up inside the company and finish my dissertation.   I also plan to continue my acting, modeling and hosting career.   I also have a secret dream to get on Dancing with the Stars :)

Angie: Love it! They should have a beauty queen season! What compliment do you receive most often? 

Sonja: The compliments I most receive: "I love your smile."   "You are always happy and have so much energy, wish I could have as much energy as you."

Angie: What are you most confident about?

Sonja: I am most confident about my success in my career. I have worked hard to get where I am and I am well respected in the industry for my work in the business intelligence and data warehousing space.

Angie: How did you earn that sense of confidence? 

Sonja: I earned this confidence by hard work and many awards, degrees, certificates and compliments I have received in my work.

Angie: What would you like to share?

Sonja: I would like to share that no matter what your dream is you have to go for it.  Life is too short and you should never regret you wish you would of done something later on in life.   Take your dream and break it down into goals and steps and do something everyday to achieve your dream.  With hard work and not giving up no matter what happens your dream will come true someday.  I know from experience because my three main dreams I had in my life I was able to accomplish. Those are
1.  Have a successful career and education in the technology space
2.  Win a national pageant title
3. Star on General Hospital.
These dreams took me over 20 years to accomplish but I can proudly say they all happened. Now I am working on my next dream writing my own book which I never thought was possible. Anything is possible you just need to make it happen and believe in yourself.

Angie: I appreciate your sharing! If you'd like more information on Mrs. Corporate America, just click on the link below :-) And Sonja, best of luck with your new book!

Sonja Fisher
Mrs. Corporate America 2009

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