Higher Learning

Well Connected

Maybe Leslie Leland wasn't born an entrepreneur--but she came pretty darn close. "Ever since I was in third grade, I wanted to have my own company," says the 36-year-old alumnus of Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE). "I just didn't know [what type of business]."

She does now. As the founder of Dallas-based Softgen International, Leland oversees a telecommunications software company specializing in call-center solutions. "It's just exploded," Leland says of the success of her 6-year-old business. That success will translate into projected 1998 sales of $9 million to $10 million.

The technology entrepreneur attributes her achievements to hard work but also tips her hat to SIFE. "SIFE encouraged me to become a leader," she explains. "It also taught me that you have to make things happen."

While participating in SIFE 18 years ago, Leland convinced local mayors to declare a day in honor of free enterprise--and persuaded restauranteurs in her community to use a place mat she created to teach patrons the fundamentals of profit, loss and so forth. Recalls Leland, "I was on the front page of all these newspapers shaking the hands of mayors."

But wasn't it intimidating for a college student to conduct such a high-profile campaign? "Not for me," laughs Leland. "If you believe in something and you have a passion for it, it's easy to do."

Contact Source

Softgen International, leslie.leland@softgenintl.com

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Higher Learning.

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