Alumni Association Kicks Off SVMP 2009

Ongoing with SVMP tradition, the Alumni Association hosted the 2009 Kick‐Off Event & Alumni Reunion in Spangler Hall at Harvard Business School (HBS) on June 20, 2009.


Spearheaded by Bridgette Adams, Event Planning Director for the Alumni Association, this year’s kick‐off program featured a welcome addresses from Deirdre Leopold, Executive Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at HBS, and officers from the Alumni Association, as well as an icebreaker session and a panel of SVMP and HBS alum alike, capped off with an alumni gathering later that evening.


Members of this year’s Executive Board shared their insight on the importance of making meaningful connections at SVMP and the program’s impact on one’s career. This year’s panelists included Ian Hardman, HBS alum and President of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, SVMP alumni Jonathan Lee Kelly, Steven Kennington II and Daniel Serna, and HBS student Luis Robles. Panelists provided advice on the pursuit of a MBA degree and reflected on how they have capitalized on their experiences at HBS and SVMP. “You shouldn’t be surprised about what’s possible for you,” Kelly told this year’s class. One lucky SVMP participant won a full suite of GMAT preparation materials, courtesy of Manhattan GMAT.


Without a doubt, this year’s SVMP Kick‐Off Event was an inspirational evening to learn, make connections and grow. As Hardman said to an audience of aspiring leaders, “If your journey is rooted in passion, then you are unstoppable.”


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Alumni Spotlight – Jonathan Lee Kelly SVMP ’01

Alumni Beat: Can you share your background with us – where you grew up, your undergraduate experience, and your interests?

Jonathan Lee Kelly: I grew up in Greensboro, NC and attended Wake Forest University, majoring in Chemistry. I enjoy developing investment ideas, sleeping, Cartoon Network, C‐Span, reading, Wii, cooking (especially southern food), and when I have the time, writing and youth leadership development. I tend to think of myself as a country boy at heart from the South –I worked construction on the weekends as a teen and as a child, spent weekends on my grandmother’s farm. A lot of my leadership capabilities were developed in the church and a lot of my views on the world were shaped by the idealism portrayed in Frank Capra’s movies “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”


AB: What is your current role at Rosemont Capital and what do you do in this capacity?

JLK: I evaluate investment opportunities and help out with special projects that can benefit from my experiences abroad in EMEA and Asia‐Ex Japan.


AB: What do you remember as the highlights of SVMP?

JLK: What’s most salient these days is how much I was inspired by my SVMP classmates and the program overall to dream bigger and to go after those dreams. There was an implicit belief that there was plenty of room at the top for all of us, so we ended up living out a saying of Lemuel Lewis, a Richmond Federal Reserve Governor, “See you at the Top!”


AB: You were able to not only attend SVMP but also HBS for your graduate studies. How different were the two experiences, if at all?

JLK: I think that because of the age at which you participate in SVMP, it naturally lends itself to being a transformational experience as you are just on the cusp of graduation, career, graduate school, and life in general. SVMP structures your time which makes a big difference. The MBA Program is different because you are living within a community and the learning process can migrate between the classroom, community, and your own life’s priorities.


AB: Why did you decide to pursue master’s degrees in business and government and how do you hope to leverage them? Is there advice that you can share with alumni considering a similar path?

JLK: The short of it is, that I did not want to regret later in life not having made time to attend the JFK School. That said, I made the decision to apply after the first semester of my MBA.


Today the programs have changed such that you can no longer pursue both degrees concurrently as I did, rather you must make joint applications from the start or pursue the JFK after obtaining your MBA. So my tactical experience here is now obsolete. It is worth noting that the JFK School is an aspirational place so if you liked that about SVMP, there is more of it in a Master of Public Policy/Public Administration as there are more implicit and explicit expectations at the JFK School about the impact you can have on the world. While these are present at HBS, you have to listen harder and seek it out a bit more than you do at the JFK School or in SVMP.


AB: Now that you have benefited from SVMP, HBS/The Kennedy School of Government, and years of work experience, what are some of the most important things you have learned about yourself and what are your dreams for the future?

JLK: I think there a few takeaways looking back over the last decade. Here are some key takeaways:


1. You don’t have to invent the wheel to use one.


2. You will meet extraordinary people in your walk of life ‐ be sure to cherish them, they make the journey more rich and you never know how long they may be in your life or what role they may ultimately play.


3. Sometimes life’s possibilities and opportunities are larger than your ability to comprehend them, don’t forget the basics at times like this… “One foot in front of the other.”


4. Life is not fair. Come to terms with it. Remember that doesn’t let you off the hook from making the world a better place and more fair.


5. Find your race and your special work in life and get after it.


6. Try not to take it personal, very little of life can be taken personal in the grand scheme of things. Accordingly don’t waste your precious time on things you cannot control or engaging in activities which distract you from your race or special work.
7. One of your biggest advantages in life is remembering that tomorrow is a new day and having the intestinal fortitude to compete and claim your stake.


8. There will be setbacks and triumphs, but these occasions are no reason to forget who you are, where you come from, where you hope to go, who you might be able to impact along the way.


9. Lemonade without lemons would just be sugar water. Life without challenges would much the same.


Keep the faith. Have fun. Stay young at heart.
‐ Jonathan Lee Kelly


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Reunion at Atlanta Braves

For only $25, SVMP alumni enjoyed games, drinks and access to the suite level at Atlanta Braves Turner Field for “Singles’ Night” on July 21, 2009.


Coordinated by Maritza Alarcon ’08, “Singles’ Night” gave SVMP alumni in the Atlanta region an opportunity to reunite and catch up over America’s past time. There were even prizes to get a hold of, such as a Dale Murphy autographed ball, hats and tickets. “It’s reassuring to know SVMP is more than a week in Boston…but also a network of great people doing amazing things,” said Aiesha Davie ’09. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and I look forward to future events.”


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On a Mission with More to Give – Sarah Sierralta SVMP ’08

During this past spring break, I joined my campus ministry on a mission to a small village near the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti called Banica. While in Banica, my team and I worked with kids ages 2‐14 in different activities, including arts and crafts, sports and religion. We also taught them the Stations of the Cross to prepare them for Easter, and played ceaseless games of Frisbee. Although we were expecting spring break to give us sufficient time to share ourselves with the kids, we were left wanting to give more, for the love we received was far more than what we could give.


Being exposed to this culture and its people made me question what having a quality of life really meant. In the U.S. we are often preoccupied with our own ambitions and desires to succeed, that we forget to look around us and see who is falling behind. Although the Baniqueros’ level of poverty is excruciating and heart‐breaking, their solidarity and love of their neighbor is ever present. They were not afraid to demonstrate us their love, even though there were cultural and language barriers between the Americanos and them.


Upon graduation, my desire to go back to Banica grew deeper. Coincidentally, a volunteer position was available with the Diocese of Arlington and the St. Francis of Assisi parish in Banica. Without hesitation, I applied for the position and readied myself for the journey of my life! Along with six other volunteers from Northern Virginia, I embarked to Banica for ten months, beginning from late August 2009 through May 2010. I now teach kids catechism, English, lead Bible studies, and direct their choir and music group.


I am thrilled about this new journey and there is still a chance for you to join my mission! My goal is to raise $7,000 to cover living expenses as well as project materials. Any amount, big or small, is greatly appreciated and will allow me to move a step closer to fulfilling my desire to serve in Banica. Please visit my mission website at formore information.


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Alumni Voices – Fall 2009

Robert Crosby III ’08 

Robert Crosby III graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor’s in Journalism, summa cum laude. This past summer, he taught summer school at Richard Wright Elementary School in northern Philadelphia. He co‐taught a class of 12 first grade students that were trying to be passed to the second grade. Teaching in Philadelphia was part of the six‐week training program that Teach For America requires its corps members to undergo before being able to teach in Washington, D.C. Crosby is now working for Teach for America in Washington, D.C. teaching early childhood education and attending George Mason University for his Master’s in Early Childhood Education. Crosby was awarded the 2009 Most Promising Minority Student in Advertising by the American Advertising Federation.


Jose Perez ’08

I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, in December 2008. I’m working for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Everett, WA, where I am the HR partner for thee employees and managers of the 767 airplane program, final assembly stage. i’m also a member of an enterprise‐wide committee tasked with restructuring our leave of abscence process, as well as the Everett site HR focal for Disability Management. As the 767 affirmative action focal, I’m working on initiatives targeted to making sure we have the right talent mix in our management and leadership population. The most exciting news for me, though, is that I’ll be starting my master’s degree in management at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School this fall. Puerto Rico goes to the UK…should be fun!


Alejandro Aguirre ’08

After working in banking last summer, and turning down a job offer, Alejandro Aguirre decided he wanted another summer to test out a different industry before graduating. This past summer, he was a summer analyst in Corporate Treasury at Burger King Corporation in Miami, FL. He will be graduating in December 2009 from Florida International University. “The most important lesson I have learned in the last year is to never settle,” commented Aguirre. It was a risky decision to turn a lucrative job offer smack in the middle of the most difficult job market in recent history, but I wasn’t willing to spend two years of my life doing something I don’t enjoy. I haven’t looked back since.”


Tinu Akinfolarin ’08

Tinu Akinfolarin graduated from Bryn Mawr in May of 2009. She is now working for Teach for America in Baltimore, MD, teaching at the elementary school level. “SVMP helped me realize that I need to pursue what I enjoy so I plan to use my love for business to [incite] change in education,” said Akinfolarin. “I am so excited about it!”


Kari Hernandez ’08

Kati Hernandez graduated from the University of Southern California in May of 2009. She will be starting a graduateTransportation program at MIT in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department this fall.


Aaron Mattison ’08

Aaron Mattison graduated from Morehouse College in May of 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics. He accepted an offer with Deutsche Bank and will be working in their London office starting September. On the side, Aaron is involved weith and the visionary network.


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Alumni Association and MLT Host Webinar

The SVMP Alumni Association partnered with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) on July 21, 2009 to host a webinar on MLT’s MBA Prep program. Led by Ronethea Williams, MBA Prep Recruiter at MLT, the webinar provided insight for SVMP alumni aspiring to pursue a MBA degree.


The webinar included an overview of the MBA prep program’s key components: coaching, curriculum, communication, connections, and career development. Those selected for this competitive program have the opportunity to build relationships with admissions officers and corporate partners. Williams also provided tips on things that prospective applicants can do now, such as prepare for the GMAT exam. “Above all, applicants must manage their time, start early, and plan, plan, plan,” said Williams.


MLT is a national nonprofit organization that has increased the presence of minorities in fast track entry‐level jobs and major graduate business schools in preparation for leadership positions in corporations and nonprofit organizations. Recently, there were featured in CNN’s “Black in America 2.” For more information about MLT and their MBA Prep program, visit their site at


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Banking on the Battlefield of Africa – Ismoila Alli-Balogun SVMP ’07

Make no mistake, Africa is not immune to the global economic crisis.


It’s been quite a humbling experience watching many events unfold over the past few months here in the Africa hub of the Renaissance Group. We leaned our workforce significantly, refined our strategy for Africa, streamlined our deal pipeline, and rebuilt our work teams. The economic tumult has been largely shared, shaken us all, and will ultimately leave a telling testament of how quickly things fall apart. No doubt, beginning my career in an economic time like this, and witnessing this all firsthand has been an unbelievable learning opportunity.


We have seen the Nigeria Stock Exchange wipe out shareholder value across the board, as many companies now trade at nearly 80% discount to their 52 week high. We have seen the Naira weaken considerably against the dollar, as the Central Bank of Nigeria intentionally mandated in a near desperate effort to attract foreign capital. Overall, we have seen the outlook for international credit, supposedly Africa–ound, head south…


In light of this all, however, I remain strikingly optimistic about Africa, knowing chaos favours the bold, the few, willing to make swift moves. Think of the CEO of a Ghanaian bank who ponders M&A, pursues it, then creating a domestic banking behemoth dead set on achieving sweeping market share in Sub Saharan Africa. Or the Telco operator in Kenya who, for the first time, exposes its balance sheet to foreign private equity players desperately seeking the final frontier for investment in a global economy increasingly drained of positive IRR. Or the local health care provider in Harare who, in light of the Zimbabwean economy soon becoming dollarized, embarks on a brave campaign calling all interested investors who dare to dream in the audacious promise of a corrected government. These examples are many, rich with potential, and are not smallbore. As a result, ensuring potential deals achieve seamless fruition is fast becoming the modus operandi here in Africa.


For me, it’s never been about beginning my career with any bulge or boutique investment bank, or beginning my career particularly with a Russia‐headquartered bank branched in Nigeria. Rather it’s been about being in and learning from a wellbranded investment bank that is purposed on leading Africa business with its feet on the battlefield of the most exciting markets in Africa. That’s why since my senior year at Baruch College I have been enthusiastic about kicking off my career with Renaissance Capital.


It’s exciting living and working in Lagos and my experience thus far has proved beyond expectation. In few words, Lagos is incredibly sweet. I am settled in the Africa Mergers & Acquisitions team, and getting intimate exposure to deals that in the near term will make Africa sing. This opportunity allows my close involvement in deals and discussions that will influence the economic climate in Africa for many years to come –the opportunity to make an impact in strengthening African companies, not just making them competitive locally, but building African market leaders, globally. I never could have imagined such satisfaction coming out of college; so I just thought I’d pick you out, specially, and share this good feeling with you.


Ismoila Alli‐Balogun participated in SVMP in 2007 and graduated from Baruch College in 2008. He is currently an analyst at Renaissance Group in Lagos, Nigeria.



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