Alumnus Jafar Payandeh ('23) found the sweet taste of success after graduation right here at Concordia University Wisconsin. He recently was hired as the general manager for Concordia Red Elephant Chocolates.
What’s that, you ask. Concordia Red Elephant Chocolates makes artisan hand-made chocolates, specializing in truffles, solid milk and dark chocolate bars, and custom chocolates for special occasions. Giving smiles is a big part of our mission.
Our Story: Concordia Red Elephant Chocolates gives the opportunity to students by involving them in some way where they can learn the concept of business while studying. It is funded by business faculty members from Concordia University with primary funding from the CU Ventures, which include an Angel Investor group, with a 20 percent ownership and associated profits ultimately going to scholarships and grants. So, your chocolate purchase is made by and supports students and faculty!
We recently sat down with Payandeh, who earned his master’s degree in product development, to chat about his experiences at Concordia.
Question: How do you connect to the Concordia mission? Have you lived out the mission? In what ways?
Answer: “Concordia University has a mission of service to others and I really embrace that mission and service in the world, but also for our students. We are making delicious chocolates for all kinds of businesses, especially businesses that have a connection with Concordia University. But I love the fact that money is coming back to support our students in the form of scholarships and grants through the connection with CU Ventures, which includes an Angel Investor group.”
Question: How did Concordia equip and prepare you for life after college?
Answer: “As we know, universities help students by polishing their skills and talents for the workplace and help them in securing good jobs after graduation. But apart from that, Concordia helped me to practically use my skills while I was at the university. I got an opportunity to be a graduate assistant for Dr. Dan Sem, who guided me throughout my journey as a mentor with a motive to be successful and help others in every possible way. A mentor in your life makes a difference on how you think about and approach people.”
Question: What advice would you give to prospective or current students?
Answer: “‘Grab every opportunity you get and be like a sponge. Absorb as much as knowledge you can and then one day you will be able to squeeze the sponge and share the knowledge among everyone.’ – this is something that remained with me and has followed throughout my life. Having a passion to cook and getting smiles on everyone’s face led me to pursue my dream and become a chef; this way I changed my passion to profession. Focus on your dream and it will lead you to a successful life.”
Question: What is the most valuable lesson you learned while at Concordia?
Answer: “Focusing on your mind and spirit is one of the valuable lessons I learned at Concordia University. Everyone at the university is there to help and guide you through a path for a better future.”
Question: Anything else you would like to add?
Answer: “Apart from the university, your family is always there to help and guide you. I am grateful to have a family off campus who helps me in every possible way to be successful and grow for a better future. Surround yourself with likewise thinking people and you will see the difference.”
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.