Deanna Rayala ’16 works as a manager for the Global Partner Enablement team at Salesforce in San Francisco, but her passion for international business was inspired by a study abroad experience in Spain.
So much so that Deanna wants other business students at Dominican to benefit the way she did. During International Education Week, Deanna donated a generous amount to the Global Education Office for a travel stipend fund in her name to be given to a Barowsky School of Business student who is studying abroad for the 2020 spring semester. The self-funded stipend will go towards program fees, flight costs, yet more importantly create an opportunity of a lifetime for a student to experience education overseas.
Deanna chose Dominican because it was an independent college that offered a concentration in international business and it was in the ideal location.
“With the tech industry booming in the San Francisco Bay Area, I wanted to move into an industry where there was a lot of upcoming opportunities,” she says. “A Business degree was a perfect fit.”
At Dominican, Deanna was a student ambassador in the Institute for Leadership Studies and an officer in the Alpha Lambda Delta Society. She was mentored by Dr. Denise Lucy, Founder and Executive Director of the ILS, and by Dr. Françoise Lepage, Sarlo Distinguished Professor in the Barowsky School of Business.
It was Dr. Lepage who presented a travel stipend to Deanna in 2014 to study abroad, and now Deanna is paying forward that generosity.
“Somewhere inside me I’ve always felt the responsibility to uplift the next generation of students and open doors to opportunities that I’ve gotten to experience so young. After two years of trying to find ways to give back in the most authentic way possible, I decided to create a study abroad stipend for my alma mater," Deanna explains.
“Studying abroad at the Public University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I hope one day every student in the Barowsky School of Business who is studying International Business takes on this opportunity. In Spain, I met some of the most incredible people from around the world. Chelsea Felker from Canada was one of them. I've learned so much from her success in the tech industry and her willingness to do good in this world that this stipend is also a reflection of our friendship. Four years later, we continue to meet each other in different parts of the world every year.”
The experience helped put Deanna on a career path. Shortly after graduating from Dominican, Deanna started working in sales at Yelp. That led to another opportunity to work for Salesforce, a cloud-based software company housed in the tallest building in San Francisco. Earlier this year she was promoted from assistant manager to manager and now runs the ISV Enablement Program for North America and European partners at Salesforce. She drives ISV program participation and awareness of Salesforce sales teams.
Over the past two-plus years, the job has taken her to Australia, Canada, Singapore, and throughout the United States. It fulfills a dream.
“Right away I knew I wanted to work for a big tech company and have the opportunity to travel to different countries,” Deanna says. “I clearly remember someone telling me that this dream was far fetched and I wouldn't be able to travel until later in my career, especially at a big tech company. I took that as a challenge.”
Deanna credits her Dominican experience for being the foundation of her success. It enabled her to parlay a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a young age to study abroad, which provided an education outside U.S. borders and built a network of lifelong friends and business associates. She has returned to campus several times to speak to undergraduates.
“One thing I learned in these past two and a half years is that there's opportunity everywhere, even at the bottom of the totem pole,” Deanna says. “I raised my hand for every opportunity and never let the fact that I absolutely had no idea what I was doing sometimes stop me. This has led to some pretty amazing moments around the world. So take risks and don't give up. Amazing opportunities will follow.”