State Star Hawkins Tours Silicon Valley

October 6th, 2015 by Gwen Green

Arkansas State Star Ronda Hawkins recently visited Intuit, Google, and Facebook headquarters.

The Silicon Valley tour for State Stars was organized by entrepreneur and USA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams in conjunction with the Annual Conference of America’s Small Business Development Centers Sept. 8-11 in San Francisco.

State Star Ronda Hawkins on Silicon Valley tourA State Star is chosen from each state, regional, or territorial SBDC program. Hawkins, training specialist and business consultant for the Arkansas Tech University ASBTDC, received the State Star designation for contributing significantly to the Arkansas SBTDC network and being an exemplary performer.

The day-long outing began in Mountain View, Calif., at Intuit, makers of QuickBooks accounting software. State Stars were treated to breakfast and informative discussions with Karen Peacock, Intuit’s new head of small business division, and Al Ko, Intuit senior vice president.

At Google’s Mountain View campus, known as the Googleplex, Emily Harris and Whitney Cox shared the successes of Google’s Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map nationwide program. The ASBTDC is an Official City Partner with Google on this initiative, holding free workshops to help businesses improve their Google search and map listings. The tour also included Google’s Visitor Beta Center and fun Android, Google Earth, and other displays. Lunch was served at the Google cafeteria where visitors and employees always dine at no charge.

The final stop was at Facebook in Menlo Park, where COO Sheryl Sandberg and her team announced new Facebook Business Page features including mobile page improvements, new messaging tools, and improved call-to-action buttons. The Facebook visit continued with a tour of Facebook’s Hacker Way, an area that includes shops, restaurants, an ice cream parlor, and even an arcade.

“The day was fabulous,” said Hawkins. “It was intriguing to see how different the cultures are at these places compared to more traditional businesses. Workers are encouraged to stay on campus and have many freedoms and all-inclusive amenities at their disposal to help them manage their personal and professional lives. I was surprised at the sheer size of all three organizations.”

See Abrams’ USA Today column about the event.

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