Darshana Sonpal

Darshana Sonpal

Tell us your job title and main responsibilities. How long have you worked here?

I am the assistant finance director and I oversee the business office here [at CAHNR]. My main role is to assist the dean and the College in managing their financial affairs by using their financial resources in an efficient way. I’ve been here a little over a year now.

Name one aspect of your work that you really like.

One aspect that I really like is meeting the faculty and learning about their research. I find it fascinating. My background is in numbers and coming from budget and finance, my main focus was always on the bottom line. With this new role, I’m really focusing on not just knowing numbers but knowing the people and the research behind it. Every time I meet a faculty member, I make a point to ask them to tell me what their research is about. Then I hear all the fascinating research that goes on and the hurdles the faculty face. This not only helps me understand what goes on behind the scenes but also assists me with projecting the financial trend in the upcoming year more accurately along with building relationships.

Have you ever had another job at UConn?

Yes, I used to work for the Accounting and Budget offices before joining CAHNR, so I’ve been on campus for a total of ten years.

Did your favorite class in high school/college prepare you for what you do now?

Yes. I recall one of my business classes where they taught us how to solve business problems. They would present you with a problem or issue, and you had to find a solution. What I found most interesting was how each student would have the same situation but look at it differently. It showed me that there’s not just one right answer, there are so many different ways of looking at things. I think that holds a high value, especially here where higher education is the most important piece. Again, my background is in finance, so I’m always looking at the bottom line. But there could be many different reasons to implement a certain initiative, especially at this University: it could be for outreach or supporting some other initiative. In other words, bottom line is just one outlook. There could be many others. This has really opened my eyes. It has taught me to always keep an open mind.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Travel and cook! Each year my family and I try to travel to one country. We might not know the language but it’s so much fun to explore the different cultures, beliefs and landscapes. Most recently we went to Mexico. Last summer, I went to Central Europe: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary. I loved it! We do go to India almost every other year, but we consider that a family trip, not a travel destination.

I have two teenage boys so one of the ways I can connect with them is to make food together. Most recently, my son needed homemade caramel apples for his school’s Renaissance Fair. It was messy, but a great way to connect with him.

Name your favorite Dairy Bar flavor.

I would say coffee espresso crunch, because I am a total caffeine addict!

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

My parents never went to college as they never had that opportunity. I am the first woman on both my parents side of the family who studied overseas and also is in a management position. I am very proud of that. I strongly believe in trying hard and never giving up. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Also, it gives me immense satisfaction and a sense of achievement in solving a financial problem or a difficult personnel situation. The harder the situation, the more the satisfaction!