Alumni Spotlight – Alana Davis SVMP ’05

An alumna of both SVMP and Harvard Business School, Alana V. Davis SVMP ‘05 has been building a phenomenal career at CBS Mobile.  She shares advice on success, dreaming big and achieving your goals.


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

Alana V. Davis: I grew up in Union, NJ about 30 minutes west of New York City and graduated from Harvard College in 2006.  I worked at Nickelodeon Consumer Products in NYC as a licensing coordinator on their toy business before attending HBS.  My interests include dancing, choreography, international travel, and running.  Most recently, thanks to the food truck craze in LA, I’ve also been re-introduced to the wonders of food and enjoy trying out new restaurants.


What is your current role at CBS Mobile and what do you do in this capacity?

AVD:  As a business analyst at CBS Mobile, I am responsible for partner management, business development and analysis.  I work closely with our partners to develop strategic relationships which will foster the growth of the business and continuously reach out to new vendors to discuss potential business opportunities.  Additionally, I analyze the performance of CBS mobile websites and applications, inclusive of such properties as CBS Sports, and CBS News.  I also provide our mobile and sales team and product managers with the latest mobile industry research and competitor highlights.


What do you remember as the highlights of SVMP?

AVD: While finally getting the chance to explore HBS was an amazing opportunity, the biggest highlight of my experience was the people I met.  I managed to stay in touch with many SVMPers and learned a great deal from my peers.  It has been a wonderful support system as I’ve moved to different cities throughout the country and I’m happy to say that some of my closest friends today are from this program.


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

AVD: SVMP is a great taste of what life at HBS can be like.  Entering HBS as a full time student really intensifies those elements of SVMP and takes it to an entirely different level.  Your section is larger, the classes are more intense, the people are from all over the world, and your extracurricular calendar increases triple-fold.  During my two years at school, I was able to do things and go places I’d never imagined and became friends with people I’d probably never have the chance to meet otherwise.  At HBS, I got an education both inside and outside of the classroom that has been unmatched by any other experiences in my life so far.


What advice can you share with alumni who like to follow a similar path as yours?

AVD: The key is to focus on your goals, set a clear path for yourself to achieve, and take it one step at a time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the application process and thinking about everything you have do at the same time will make getting to school a difficult–albeit painful–process.  Also, for all college seniors and recent grads, take the GMAT as soon as you can.  Life in the real world gets extremely busy, making it difficult to focus on your goals and isolate yourself from distractions.


Now that you have benefited from SVMP, HBS 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?

AVD: I’ve learned that you can really dream big and actually reach those goals.  You read so many cases at HBS about entrepreneurs who had a vision and actually make it a reality–it really encourages you to think about the type of impact you want to have during your time on Earth and keeps you from restricting the possibilities of your goals.  I’ve been lucky enough to dive into the growing mobile technology industry early enough to learn from the ground up and make decisions that have real impact on our business.  This experience coupled with my desire to become the owner of a new media enterprise only encourages me to pursue my dreams further, and as clichéd as it may seem, I will continue to reach for the stars.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

AVD: SVMP was significant for me and I want to ensure that more students have the chance to have the same experience.  Last summer, I was able to participate in an alumni panel held on campus for the SVMP Class of 2009 where I really began to understand the importance of giving back to this program and encouraging more students of diverse background to apply to business school.  I only hope that all of us as alumni can continue to encourage students to apply and to really believe in the possibility of studying at HBS.

From Carnegie Hall to Ghana – Maritza Alarcon SVMP ‘07

2010 was an explosive year for Maritza Alarcon SVMP ’07.  Recognized by Glamour Magazine as one of “Amazing Young Women of 25” and serving as a volunteer teacher in Ghana, this young professional continues to surpass herself.


Can you share your background: where you grew up, your undergraduate experience and your interests?

MA: I am a Brooklyn native.  I was born, raised and educated in New York City.  I’m a 2008 graduate fo Baruch College, where I obtained my BBA degree in Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management.  I’m passionate about the power of “play” and sports, providing more inspiration and opportunities for less privileged youth around the globe and implementing revenue generating ideas…all at the same time.


What do you remember as the highlights of SVMP?

MA: One of the most memorable highlights was being interviewed for a feature to be posted on the SVMP website!  This of course allowed me the opportunity to share my SVMP experience with other Baruch students.  I conveyed to them how SVMP may open their eyes and demystify the Ivy League world.  I encouraged them to believe that they CAN attend any school their heart desires and to apply.  I also shared my experience in meeting HBS Admissions, Professors and current HBS MBA students who showed nothing by open arms and genuine hospitality.


Why did you go to Ghana?  What did you do there and what was your biggest takeaway from that experience?

MA: I’ve been fascinated by West Africa for a few years so through my alumni network, I was put in touch with Japhet Aryiku, a Baruch College alumnus, who founded the Adakum Educational Foundation in 2006.  I volunteered at L&A Memorial Academy in Accra, Ghana, which serves 330 students from nursery to 8th grade.  Ghana is a place where faith runs deep.  It is a country where generosity and warmth of its people are exceptional.  Also, I must say that I love to eat fufu–the staple food of West Africa.  After gaining new perspectives and creating wonderful memories with my Ghana family, I realize how much of a blessing it was to have such an opportunity.  For those interested, I give the experience my highest recommendation.


You were recently honored as one of Glamour Magazine’s ‘Amazing Young Women Under 25.’  Why were you selected for this award and if you could describe it in 3 words, what would they be?

MA: Yes, I was honored at Carnegie Hall in NYC for my volunteer work with M.O.V.E.  I’m a Co-Founder of the M.O.V.E. College Preparatory Program, a social venture MLT’ers and I started in 2007 that targets high potential, low-income public high school students in Manhattan.  We developed an important initiative that connects these students to young and talented professionals, for one-on-one mentoring, college immersion, SAT Prep and much more.  Three words: Oprah saluted us!


What advice can you share with alumni who would like to follow a similar path as yours?

MA: This is just one of the philosophies I wholeheartedly follow …The thoughts you think and the actions you take creates the life you make.  Choose your thoughts wisely.  Create and follow your own path–the path that springs from inspiration within you and live the life you’ve imagined.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

MA: First and foremost, I’m grateful for the interview, thank you.  If you would like to stay in touch, you can follow me @MaritzaAlarcon and read more about M.O.V.E. at  I am very excited about the college acceptance letters and scholarships the M.O.V.E seniors are currently receiving!

Alumni Connect – Winter 2011

Paul A. Gonzalez SVMP ’99: Cornell University BA ’00, Babson College MBA ’08.  Recently relocated to Geneva, Switzerland and accepted an offer to be Vice President at JPMorgan Suisse SA.


Terence Cole SVMP ’00: Since SVMP, I’ve studied abroad in Spain and Mexico, worked in the United States and I am currently teaching English in South Korea with my girlfriend.  I created, a website for foreigners who want to live and work in South Korea.


Brooke Daniels SVMP ‘06: I completed my first year at Harvard Business School last year and absolutely loved it!  I am a first year at Harvard Law School right now working towards my JD/MBA, class of 2013.  The entire experience has been great and I love spending time with other SVMP Alumni from the class of 2006–Stephanie Atiase, Stefon Burns, David Stinfil, Yohanes Frezgi and Jimmy Weng, all of whom are currently students at HBS!


Tara Moss SVMP ’06: Background in Healthcare IT Consulting, but looking to move into and connect with someone in the Fashion/Retail Industry.  Currently working at Cumberland Consulting Group (since 2007) in New York City.


Natasha (Natalya) Matusova SVMP ’08: Integrated Development Associate, Taproot Foundation, San Francisco, Northwestern University 2009.  After graduating from Northwestern University in 2009, I served as Americorps VISTA at the Taproot Foundation whose mission is to lead, mobilize and engage professionals in pro-bono service that drives social change.  As Product Development Fellow, I led the re-design of two core services in the areas of technology and strategic HR.  In the fall of 2010, I became the first VITSA fellow at Taproot to receive an offer to join the staff full-time.  My new title is Integrated Product Development Associate.  In this role, I am working to build Taproot’s capacity to deliver services to leading nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies alike.


Melissa Blett SVMP ’10: Senior at University of Central Florida.  I was selected for the UCF Homecoming Court 2010.  In some schools, Homecoming Court is about popularity, but at UCF, the five best female and male leaders are recognized for their excellence in academics, service, leadership and school spirit.  We have over 56,000 students at UCF, so being 1 of 5 females selected is a huge campus honor.


Rene Couttolenc SVMP ’10: Senior at University of Georgia, Athens Georgia.  I will be graduating in May 2011 from the University of Georgia with a Management degree and certification in Latin American Studies.  I also earned a certification in Workforce Diversity.  I will be joining the Hanover Insurance Group for their Future Leaders Program in their Atlanta office.  I am currently the president of the Hispanic Student Association at the University of Georgia representing over 1,000 Hispanic students on campus.  We have heavily worked to raise awareness and education about the issues that Hispanics are facing lately and we have been supporting the DREAM Act. We strongly believe that education represents the most effective means to accelerate the progress of this nation and increase global competitiveness.  The Hispanic Student Association at UGA was part of the Regional Conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute in Atlanta in October 2010.  The goal of this conference is to provide students with fundamental tools to differentiate themselves and be successful not only on their campuses but in their communities as well.  I was also recently awarded a national scholarship by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and BB&T Charitable Foundation.  This scholarship is awarded to five Hispanic students across the nation who have demonstrated academic abilities in the business field and outstanding leadership and professional experience.  I am originally from Mexico City and moved to the US just four years ago.

In Our Community – Winter 2011

Career Success with FrontStart

Omar J. Martin SVMP ’00 recently founded FrontStart Corporation, an internet company designed to help people find their dream career and match students with educational, summer and job training programs around the world.  FrontStart has over 500 careers for people to explore in order to determine where they best fit.  Whether you are a student, young professional or educator, the site offers resources tailored to your needs.  The site is interactive, allowing members to post videos and photos to their “yearbook” and connect with people who have similar aspirations.  Simply put, it is an online social community on the road to success.  We want to put everyone in “Front” of their education.  Visit FrontStart at today!


Hosting the Ultimate Block Party

By: Ron Zofnat SVMP ‘07

Over the past years I worked with a fantastic group of educators in preparation for an event called The Ultimate Block Party (UBP), which took place in early October 2010 in New York City’s Central Park, with over 50,000 people attending the event.


The Ultimate Block Party aims to create a multi-pronged social movement that champions the importance of play and playful learning in children’s lives.  We seek to ensure that children gain the competitive skills necessary in the 21st century world and to build a public groundswell on the value of play in fostering lifelong learning in the sciences and arts.  In effect, our mission is to affect policy about children and the way we deliver education in our society.


The statistics are staggering.  While it is known that engaging children in learning through play and the arts is an integral part of how they learn, this method is under siege.  The major skills required for the 21st century include collaboration, communication, content acquisition, critical thinking, creative innovation and character.  Research shows that playful learning provides an opportunity to build these skills in essential ways, yet 40 million elementary school children will have no arts or music training in their schools this year.  Fully 50 percent of children have no art training in the 8th grade.


I served as Co-Chair of the NY Young Professionals Board for this event.  My role focused on targeting two key elements for UBP, starting with the ‘UBP Needs List.’  While we had many sponsors, there were materials we needed that could not provide.  Together, with a team of 20 volunteers, we found vendors across NYC who provided us with 25,000 magnifying glasses, printers for the pamphlets we distributed, paper for paper airplanes, singers and musicians to play music around the park, and even computer programmers to make customized iPod applications for the event.  Secondly, I led the grass-roots publicity effort to spread the word around NYC.  I managed a database of contacts spanning over 10,000 individuals whom we leveraged to get the word out.  I coordinated field trips with Big Brother Big Sister NYC and  We reached out to nurseries, hotel concierges, K-12 social planners, community organizations and religious institutions.  Thankfully the weather was great and we were able to host New York’s largest “Simon Says” game (and even managed to capture the attention of the Central Park strollers).  Our mission was heard loud and clear in Central Park and we are moving forward by trying to launch UBP events in other cities and continuing our vision.