Carol Ann Dykes
What is your current job title and responsibilities (please make sure we know your College, Department, etc.)?
I am Site Manager for the UCF Business Incubator in the Central Florida Research Park. It is one of eight incubator sites that are part of the UCF Incubation Program. The UCF Business Incubation Program is part of the Office of Research & Commercialization.
As Site Manager, I work daily with 45-50 clients who are all early stage technology companies that have been accepted into the Incubation Program to receive comprehensive help starting and growing their businesses. We provide them office & lab space as well as coaching, lots of connections, and visibility….basically anything we can possibly provide them to help them grow quickly, be successful and becoming a thriving company in the community creating high value jobs. We depend a great deal on help and support from community partners such as professional service providers, experienced business executives, and others. So, I am continuously building relationships in the community with those that can help coach, mentor and serve our clients.
What is your history at UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
When I first came to UCF in 2002, we only had one incubator site (the one in Research Park) and were just starting one in the city of Orlando. I was responsible for getting that one up and running and managing it too. My responsibilities then were much the same as now except we had a lot of work to do to help the community understand what the incubator was. I spent a lot more time giving presentations to different groups to help them understand what we do and to find potential clients.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I have to pick just one?! One that I remember very clearly and always will is the moment I heard the Florida Legislature had approved UCF pursuing a medical school. I was sitting in a Board meeting at Florida Hospital when I got a call with the news. At one time I had planned to pursue medical school then found my way into a different area of the medical field. My first professional position was at the University of Arkansas College of Medicine. When I was at the University of Florida I had the opportunity to work with a number of the medical faculty there. I knew that event in UCF’s history would have an incredible impact in the years to come and I was excited about the potential opportunities to work with entrepreneurs in the health care field again.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I would have EVERY student take a course in Business Basics and be assigned a mentor working in their degree field. No matter what they do or where they work, every student would be a better employee or employer by having some exposure to business. And by having a chance to explore their target field with a mentor, they would better prepare themselves while at UCF and have more clarity on what the opportunities are in their field of study.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Get involved in the community in some way! Volunteer. Serve on a board. The needs are so great in the community, the opportunities are endless and the benefits are amazing. You gain a much better understanding of the community we live in, the people who live here, the assets we have. And you get a much better appreciation for how much this community values UCF!!
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
That’s a tough question. I love California Pizza Kitchen. And I could eat a Jeremiah’s gelati every day!
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
The library! It would have to be the library because it is the place that provides access to information and knowledge! I am curious and love to learn. Through a library you can get access – physically or digitally – to a world of information that you can’t find elsewhere. It’s organized. It’s vetted. Yes the internet offers an overwhelming amount of information but you’re not always sure it’s credible and it can be difficult to find what you really need. But a library provides you a way to be smart about how you find information. And librarians are highly trained experts who help you find what you need.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
John Schell, Vice President and Dr. Hitt’s Chief of Staff. I would love to hear his unique perspective since he is at that intersection of what is going on inside and outside the university on a broad scale and on a daily basis.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Tom O’Neal, Associate VP for Research & Commercialization. He started the incubator program as well as many other entrepreneurial support programs at UCF. I was on the faculty at University of Florida in the College of Engineering. He saw the potential in me to help with the incubator and asked me to consider coming to UCF.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
It would be Mrs. Martha Thompson from my high school. She was the librarian and became a mentor for me. She was an avid learner and a great encourager of students.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
It would be a couple of classes I took in communications. I started a PhD program in Little Rock in organizational/interpersonal communications and I loved it! I was not able to continue pursuing the degree but it opened my eyes to the dynamics of communications on all levels and has been valuable ever since.