A businesswoman to admire, and a Symba at heart!


Photograph Credit: Tom Topinka

From collaborating with the World Bank to starting her own magazine, Lauren Zelek, class of 2009, has been taking the world by storm. In a recent interview, Ms. Zelek talks about her time at Sacred Heart and spills her secrets for success.

What made you go into marketing and business development?

I really enjoy the opportunities it offers. I believe that in marketing and development you always have to remain creative and open minded. You need to remain interested in meeting different people and understanding different cultures. I have always wanted to be part of something like that, even when I was here, in ISSH.  I also eventually learned that in business development, you have to act constantly and take initiative. You have to think outside the box, like challenges and thinking about how to overcome them. Knowing this helped me to realize that this is the path for me. Another thing that really enjoyed was that it’s international. You can take it anywhere across the globe and use it in different cultures.

How have you partnered with ISSH?

I founded an online magazine called “Use Your Difference Magazine”, to inspire students to follow their hearts and impact their communities. It hopes to inspire students to use their difference to make a difference in any way they can. So right now I’m hoping to feature some student stories, and help promote ISSH’s values and vision.

How did ISSH inspire/influence/help you to decide to go into this field?

Firstly, it was being around classmates from different cultures. I enjoyed getting to know my peers, their cultures and their backgrounds. It helped me develop the open mindset. Secondly, the diversity in the classes really influenced me. Ranging all the way from pottery, needlework, to the school band. This diverse range of classes really encouraged me to go into global marketing and global communications. The third thing that really encouraged me was excursions.

Lauren Zelek still loves to explore new places and experience new cultures.
Lauren Zelek with her father, exploring Japan

The opportunity to travel through Japan every year helped me develop a sense of adventurism and the will to to go outside my comfort zone. That really helped me broaden my know knowledge of Japan and bond with my classmates.

Do you have any memories at Sacred Heart that stand out to you?

One thing I remember really well, is playing soccer here. In fact, I was on the founding team. I remember going to Far East in Korea.

Were there any particular teachers that particularly influenced you?

Oh definitely! Mr.Tootell and Mr.Zink were two that I remember well.

What made you choose the University of Richmond?

Well, there were three main things. The first thing I was looking for was a small liberal arts school, where I could take a variety of classes and discover what I really love to do. Coming from ISSH, a small school was really important to me, since it allowed me to build relationships with teachers and really get to know my classmates. The University of Richmond offered me that. Secondly, I wanted to keep my Japanese up, and the University of Richmond has a really good Japanese program. Third, University of Richmond’s business school is number twelve in the nation, and I knew that business development was the field I wanted to be in. So that’s why I chose the University of Richmond.

What has been the hardest part of your career so far?

I would have to say discovering what your passion is about. I believe that the way you discover it is by being in scenarios in which you are uncomfortable. For example, my first job out of college I really disliked. Although it was a great job, it made me realize what I liked and didn’t like. It helped me focus on the things I enjoyed and steer away from the things that I didn’t feel so passionately about. Which is why I think  being out of my comfort zone and discovering what I’m passionate about has been the hardest part.

What do you hope to do next in your career?

Currently I’m building the magazine, and I would like that to eventually become a multimedia company. Which means expanding in video, film, podcasts and written stories. I would love for that to grow and develop. I am also very interested in journalism and interviewing people. So I would love to expand into TV or have a podcast radio and interview people about their stories.

Do you have any advice for students hoping to go into the same field as you?

Yes. I would say always keep an interest for other people’s perspectives, and don’t judge them. Try to put your brain into their brain and make an effort into viewing how they see the world. Also, try to keep an open mind. When an opportunity comes at you and your heart feels good about it, go for it. Don’t listen to what other people have to say, trust your gut and use your intuition. Run towards things that excite you. Dont worry about what people think about you, be yourself. Even though there will be challenging times, keep a positive attitude and keep persevering, because eventually it’ll all work out. Lastly, always be proud of your roots. Stand up for where you come from and where you’ve been. Defend it and promote it at the same time! GO ISSH!

You can can follow Lauren on Twitter on and on Facebook.