Sixth grader usurps software company

Thanks to education nonprofit PENCIL and Global Technology Preparatory, Jakai Wade took over IT management software maker CA, serving as company president for a day.

Meet Jakai Wade, a 12-year-old sixth grade student at Global Technology Preparatory school in East Harlem, N.Y. Wade took part in the President for a Day program at her school offered by PENCIL Program , which develops customized partnerships between business and school leaders. With her innovative answers to tough business questions, Wade found herself meeting with top executives at IT management software maker CA's Manhattan offices. Read more about what Wade learned after sitting in the hot seat at a high-tech company.

Wade competed with 13 students, according to her school principal Chrystina Russell, and stood out from the group because "Jakai was really able to shine in the critical thinking questions." For Wade, whose favorite classes are science and math, going to a technology business meant understanding better the workings of a company office. "CA was very helpful in getting me ready for with business attire. They took me shopping for a business suit and I bought a dress with a cardigan," Wade said.

Erica Christensen, director of community affairs for CA, takes Wade to meet with CA executives and help her plan her busy day. Wade won the presidency by suggesting creative strategies at getting distributed people together for a meeting. "I said ask everyone what might be the best time to meet and schedule a conference using skype," she explained. Principal Russell said Wade's enthusiasm helped her win: "She did talk about wanting to learn about CA and future opportunities, she stood out to panel judges."

CA President and COO Mike Christenson explained that CA takes part in the PENCIL program because of it connects New York businesses with local schools. "It has a huge impact and it enables kids to expand their horizons into the business world in New York City," Christenson said. Micheal Haberman, president at PENCIL, agreed: "It's no mistake that CA gets partnered with a school like Global Technology Preparatory because CA delivers technology. We are teaching kids about using technology more effectively in the schools to keep the kids more engaged in learning."

Company President and COO Christenson forfeited his chair to Wade during the weekly update meeting with CA's Jacob Lamm, executive vice president of strategy and corporate development. "She is taking my job," Christenson said, pointing out that CA tries to bring the student in during one of the busy meeting days so there is a lot of information available. "We want to give students an idea of the big deals that are in flight at that time," he added.

Wade gets thrown into serious business meetings immediately after arriving, as CA's vice president of pricing, Aaron Yaverski, accompanies her through the halls of CA to her first meeting. "I plan on asking what the business is all about and how do they get services out to customers," Wade said before her stint as President for the Day at CA.

Wade visited the CA offices in New York City on a school field trip once before and when the opportunity arose to learn more about the business she jumped at it. "I wanted to see what this type of job would be like and learn more about how a company is run. I will be shadowing Mike [Christenson, CA president and COO], and my expectations are to learn what types of products they make and use, but to also have fun," Wade said.

Also on Wade's agenda was a meeting with CA's Chief Financial Officer Nancy Cooper and Yaverski. "I don't know how a business should be run, that is what I want to learn," Wade said. "When we did the field trip, CA taught me a little bit about technology and how it evolves from time to time. I mostly use the Internet and Microsoft PowerPoint and Word so it will be interesting to learn about the entire business."

After meeting one-on-one or in smaller groups, Wade took a seat at the head of the table for a portfolio meeting with CA sales executives such as George Fischer, executive vice president of global sales, client services and marketing (pictured third from left). "The best thing for me was getting to meet with other people at CA including Nancy Cooper, the CFO and the head of Investor Relations, Kelsey Doherty," Wade said.

Following her experience as CA's President for the Day, Wade said: "This experience has been an amazing opportunity for me. I got to meet with CA's real president, Mike Christenson and saw just how busy he really is. I was able to participate in real meetings which helped me understand the importance of planning, being prepared and not being shy to share my ideas. I am now inspired to work even harder in school and believe that anyone can succeed if they put their mind to it."

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