“Five Questions For …” Houston Technology Center’s Deborah Mansfield

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mysteries like the [Robert] Ludlum books. It’s a real escape from what I do in life. I also like puzzles and dot-connecting—it’s what business development is.

X: What’s your most impressive or most quirky skill that has nothing to do with your day job?

DM: I sing with the Houston Masterworks Chorus. I sang with the chorus for the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston in a special mass in Rome for when the archbishop [Daniel DiNardo] was elevated to cardinal [in 2007].

I’ll do anything in the arts at least once. I made my wedding dress. I did a suit coat—I wouldn’t do that again. Anything in the arts gives me outlets.

X: What did your 25-year-old self know that you have forgotten?

DM: That the world’s your oyster. The fear factor isn’t there. I’ve just rediscovered it. You get more cautious when you get older. You’re just trying to make things work now. [One forgets] just the ignorance of youth. I say all the time, ‘You have a 50/50 chance on anything in life.’ To get funding [for a startup, for example] it’s an 8 percent chance. So just go for it.

X: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

DM: Doctor Kildare or Ben Casey. I was going to become an Elizabeth Blackwell. Hey, it was the 1960s. Anything was possible.

My dad had a major heart attack in 1960; I was 9 years old. My father had to be hospitalized and we could only see him through a window. Kids weren’t allowed in the room. It impacted our family life. My father lived until he was 86 [but] he was under this heavy cloud because of the [isolation and trauma of that experience.]

He worked in heavy industry and was in the Korean War. He had a degeneration of inner ears and the nerves. We found him on the floor because he couldn’t get up; he had such terrible vertigo.

I was going to fix my dad. … Turns out, I married [a doctor, now her ex-husband], and he helped to fix my dad.

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