Verelyn Gibbs Watson, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars


In the Spotlight: Friday, January 31, 2014,

Verelyn Gibbs Watson, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars
By Nicole Duhring -Washington Business Journal
This week’s In the Spotlight features Verelyn Gibbs Watson, president of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars in D.C.

Verelyn is the eldest child of Vere Ainsworth-Gibbs and Frankie Gibbs…a former commissioned officer of the GDF.

Verelyn Gibbs Watson joined the society in 2008 as senior director of member engagement. 

What’s the biggest challenge you face day-to-day? With The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) being a D.C. based, national nonprofit, the challenge, of course, is trying to make miracles happen with limited resources, staff and funding. We’re committed to recognizing and elevating high achievers and right now we are in the midst of planning a mega conference event called ScholarCon. There are just so many moving parts. Collaborating with our other honor society partners, ensuring everything is coordinated for our headliners like John Legend and Kal Penn — all while making sure no focus is taken away from our upcoming membership campaigns.

What business person, living or past, would you most like to have dinner with? What one question would you ask? Earl Graves. Graduating from the Earl Graves School of Business at Morgan State University was a constant reminder to me that we are each responsible for creating the future we want to build. It always made me think “wow, this type of legacy is attainable.” This man sat where I’m sitting and he used his education to build a business empire. If he can, I can. I’d like to ask him if he thinks todays historically black colleges and universities are producing the same caliber of talent as they did in his day — and if not, what should we do about it.

Your most unhealthy habit: I’m a junk food junkie. Burgers, shakes, fries … LOVE. Although these days it’s definitely more in moderation — sometimes those calories are so worth it, so I can’t resist.

Biggest pet peeve: People who take credit for other people’s ideas … that churns my butter.

Best lesson you ever learned from a mentor: The importance of understanding workplace dynamics and not allowing personal workplace friendships/relationships to get in the way of work. I believe her exact words were, “No one at work is your friend.” The work comes first, and you make your decisions based on the work not your “friendships.”

I think that’s especially important advice for young professionals trying to navigate their way in the workplace. You should get along with your colleagues and work to create a supportive and collaborative environment but everyone doesn’t have to like you, and you can’t make tough decisions when you’re more worried about how it might impact a friendship.

Most interesting project you ever worked on: I think what I’m doing now with ScholarCon, just because it has so many moving parts and the scale of the whole thing. We’re basically launching the South by Southwest for high achieving scholars in a new collaborative way — we’re talking thousands of students, a huge venue in Orlando with not just educational components like leadership and career development, but interactive and just plain fun elements like concerts, performances and new approaches to delivering educational content – I think it’s going to be a game changer.

If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be? Michelle Obama. She’s just the total package, smart, beautiful, strong, and yet she’s humble enough despite all of that to have her main role be supporting her husband/partner. It takes a lot of confidence to be able to do that. Also look at the positive impact she’s had on fashion — accessible glamour she makes being a style icon attainable for the everyday woman.

What’s one thing you’re glad your company didn’t know about you before you were hired? That in my early 20s I really, really wanted to be a rapper.

What is your greatest extravagance? I have a weakness for travel and Tory Burch shoes. Those ballet flats are just so darn cute and comfortable. I’m sure I have the equivalent of a mortgage payment in Tory Burch shoes. I keep hoping she’ll create a kid’s line so my 2-year-old can get in on the action. She can call it “Baby Burch” (maybe I should trademark that).

Worst piece of business advice you ever received: “Just trust me.

Favorite place to do business: LPQ – Le Pain Quoitudien

What word or phrase do you most overuse? “At the end of the day …”

One question you always ask a potential employee: “What’s the first thing you would do to hit the ground running in this position?”

One thing you wish you could change about your job: Nothing … unless it could be based in Paris.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? I once took a quiz that told me the historical figure I was most similar to was Leonardo DaVinci, because he was artistic, intelligent and looked at the world differently than most people do — what might seem like an impossible obstacle to others seemed like an opportunity to him. I guess I’ll go with that.

What is one thing about which you are consistently dishonest with yourself? That I am not a control freak. I am.



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