With offices in the Irvine Spectrum, Sunny Rajab is president of Business Communications Solutions.
When I asked Sunny how being a woman in her role as a president of a telecommunications and technology company helps or hurts her, I fully expected her to think me rude or sexist. If she thought either, she didn’t let on. Her response: “The IT and Telecom industry definitely was intimidating to get into because it was dominated by men, but that didn’t stop me from trying. When I first created BCS, not only was my gender an obstacle, but my age was as well because I was in my early twenties. It was difficult for me at times to gain the respect of prospects and vendors because I wouldn’t always be taken seriously. I think once people got to know me though, and realized that I was very technically versed and experienced, it was easy for me to win them over.”
She was kind enough to participate in a recent Q&A exchange:
Q: What do you like about working and owning your company in Irvine?
A: Irvine is the hub of most major businesses in Orange County, and it’s a perfect place to have a business. Most of our customers are within a few miles of us, and so are our major partners, so that makes it extremely convenient.
Q: What are your favorite places to eat or get coffee in Irvine?
A: I love eating at the Irvine Spectrum because there are always a lot of options to pick from depending on what I’m in the mood for. We make our own coffee at the office, and as long as I have my French Vanilla creamer, then I’m good.
Q: Where did you grow up? What do/did your parents do?
A: I was born in Tehran, Iran, but my family migrated to Germany during the war, and moved to the U.S. in 1988. My parents opened a Persian restaurant when we moved to the U.S., so you could say I got the entrepreneurial spirit from them.
Q: People (like me) are likely to be curious about both Sunny and Rajab. Is there a story behind your first name?
A: My real first name is Afsaneh, but people had a hard time pronouncing that. One day in elementary school one of my classmates handed me a birthday invitation with the name “Sunny” on it. At first I thought she gave me the wrong invitation, but she told me that her mom couldn’t say my name and she felt this nickname was appropriate because of my personality. At first I was offended, but eventually I got tired of people butchering my name and my teachers always asking me for a nickname, so the rest is history.
Q: Do you make fun of the older first generation family members like my Persian family does?
A: I have a lot of respect for the older generation, which is probably why I get along really well with all my family members, but I have to confess I do enjoy making fun of them.
Q: Is your company growing? Are you hiring?
A: For a while, we were struggling like many other businesses during the economic turmoil, but we managed to survive by continuing to market our business and expand our offerings. Today I can proudly say we are still growing and actually looking to hire additional sales team members and IT administrators.
Q: Where have you traveled? What was your favorite destination?
A: I have traveled to many countries in the world (so this makes it a tough question) and have enjoyed every country that I’ve journeyed to, but I would have to say London, Paris, and St. Petersburg, Russia were high up on my list. I enjoyed visiting all of the old palaces because I enjoy the history of these places. Don’t get me wrong, I love the food and shopping as well, but knowing that I was able to stand in the same palace that a king or queen lived was amazing to me. My other passion is scuba diving and one my favorite diving trips was to Belize where I had a chance to go diving with sharks, which I truly enjoyed as well.
Q: If your relative or close friend gifted you $1,000,000 but required that you donate to charitable causes, how would you allocate it?
A: I always try to help people so picking a specific cause is difficult, but I would always start with any cause for children. I feel that if we can help more children while they are young, whether it is with food, health, or guidance that is more important because we are able to set a good foundation for their future.
Freelance columnist Adam Probolsky lives in Rancho San Joaquin and is CEO of Probolsky Research LLC, which specializes in opinion research for government, corporate and political clients. Follow him @AdamProbolsky or email firstname.lastname@example.org.