As published in the World Journal – A company named DSFederal has grown 50 times its original size since its 2007 inception. It ranked 55th among all rapidly growing small and medium-sized enterprises nationwide, and second in Maryland. DSFederal, which has won several large Federal government contracts, started in a café. Its huge success depends on its CEO and co-founder, Sophia Parker, who holds a people-centric, charity-first, and mission-oriented business philosophy.
Sophia was born and grew up in Taiwan. She came to the U.S in 1979 to study at Illinois State University. Sophia admitted that she did not adapt to her studies in Mass Communications, so she decided to change her career path and take the CPA test. However, the communication skills and people-oriented focus gained from her communications studies became the key to her later success in business.
Sophia has recorded all 100+ employees’ birthdays in her calendar and cooks for her employees at least once a week. She stresses that everyone matters, and she also emphasizes the importance of trust and respect for everyone on the team. As a female leader, she thinks that a woman’s maternal instinct, interpersonal sensitivity and soft communication skills all have contributed to the building of company culture.
The core mission of DSFederal is to assist the Federal government in building efficient communication channels with the public and to solve the government’s key information technology challenges. How did the small company starting up in a café win multiple large contracts from the Federal government? Sophia told us that it is all because of the idea, “A word spoken is an arrow let fly,” a mantra carried out through the company’s dedication to its customers and their missions, and because of the principle that every mission must be accomplished. Her team also has developed a communication and action model in which everyone can say what he or she thinks and do what he or she says. DSFederal’s major clients include Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among others. Its annual income has reached $12 million.
Another business philosophy for Sophia is to give back to the community. She said that she entered business for the sake of charity, and she thinks that solely profit-driven companies will not last long. Parker has been to the former Soviet Union, Spain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Taiwan. During her stay in Pakistan, her life path changed after an interview with a female prisoner. Sophia was shocked by how poorly Pakistani prison guards treated female prisoners and began regularly visiting the prison, routinely bringing pens, paper, clothing, and food. She gradually became friends with the inmates. She was gratified to see them enjoying the food she brought.
Now, she still visits Afghanistan during the Christmas holiday every year, and she will bring toys to those female prisoners’ children this year. Sophia, who has gone through ups and downs in her own life, was shocked when she was asked about why she insisted to do charity in Afghanistan amid such tough living conditions. When those female prisoners asked her whether she would be back next year, it recalled back the feeling when she waited for her father to bring her back home from the orphanage. Sophia’s father was a Nationalist soldier in Taiwan and her mother was disabled. Due to their bad health conditions, they had to send Sophia to an orphanage for many years.
Reflecting upon the ups and downs in her life, Sophia did not become selfish after she succeeded. Instead, she has enjoyed the happiness resulting from helping people in need. She repeatedly stressed that we should spare no effort to make contributions to the community, as a businessperson or as an individual.
About DSFederal: DSFederal is a woman-owned consulting firm that specializes in research support, enterprise IT solutions, business process improvement, and training for Federal government agencies. The company has received awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration (Top Woman-Owned Small Business), the Washington Business Journal (Top Small Technology Company), and SmartCEO (Cornerstone Award.) Clients include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Transportation, Defense, and Agriculture, among others. Projects range from mobile app development to training solutions to customization of software and processes in support of multi-billion dollar efforts for HHS agencies. www.dsfederal.com