Alumni Beat 9: SVMP AA International Trip Update

As a SVMP AA family, we are very well traveled. 86% of members surveyed have traveled internationally within the last five years.


Overall, the activities you all most desire in a trip are sightseeing, beaches and relaxation which any island or coastal city will offer! The top most requested destinations were Brazil, Europe, Australia and South East Asia with a budget in the range of $2,000-$3,000 for a seven day trip.



This was for an all inclusive 3-4 star resort during the summer months with direct flights leaving from major cities. The SVMP AA International Trip Planning Committee hopes to have more information by the first of the year so we can hit the ground running on our first group international trip.


Interested in joining the International Trip Planning Committee? Contact Melissa Hughes

Alumni Beat 9: Alumni Perspective


Alumni Living and Working Internationally



Aleksey Chernobelskiy, SVMP 2010


Originally from Moscow, Russia and a graduate of the University of Arizona, Aleksey Chernobelskiy is currently a Quantitative Analyst at Mayan Capital in Israel. He shares his SVMP experience and wisdom he has gained from working abroad.


     “The entire program was a dream come true. Learning from the top professors in the world was particularly surreal.  Some of my best life lessons were a result of my family’s immigration to the United States without speaking a word of English. Looking to further develop myself as a leader in the community and in business, I moved to Israel without speaking Hebrew.   In Israel, many people focus on personal development just as much as they focus on professional development. This creates a warm culture while raising the level of integrity and professionalism.”


Connect with Aleksey on LinkedIn




Susan_EdwardsSusan Edwards, SVMP 2001


Originally from Chicago, Illinois and a graduate of Stanford University, Susan Edwards is currently an Associate for the Africa Health Fund at The Abraaj Group in Kenya. She shares what took her abroad and the beauty of her experience.


     “My husband worked for the International Finance Corporation in Kenya while I was in Chicago running the nextONE Business Accelerator program for minority entrepreneurs. I decided to join him two years ago in Nairobi and experience the rapid economic growth in Sub Saharan Africa.  A great thing about Kenya is how beautiful the country is.  You can go on a safari in one of the multiple national parks and see wildlife for yourself or head to the coast for some of the best beaches in the world.”







Nikki Okrah, SVMP 2010


Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts and a graduate of Northwestern University,

Nikki Okrah is currently a Senior Analyst at Visa, Inc. in Johannesburg, South Africa. She shares her transition to working aboard and her motivation.


     “In the middle of my senior year of college, I received a grant to do field research for a paper I was working on examining the relationship between remittances and kinship networks in Ghana, West Africa. At the time, I had not been back to Ghana in almost 16 years. While I was there, I saw that Accra had undergone a lot of positive growth and development. I quickly realized that Ghana was where I wanted to be long term.

     After graduating I moved to San Francisco to begin a 24-month graduate rotational program at Visa, Inc. About 16 months into the program, an opportunity came up to work on business development projects to open up electronic payment channels across Sub-Saharan Africa. The role would be based in Visa Inc.’s Johannesburg, South Africa office. I applied and two months later I was flying halfway across the world to my new home in South Africa. The assignment was a great professional and personal development experience, so I took an offer to join the team in Johannesburg full time.

     South Africa’s population and my role at work are both Pan-African, as a result my job—in business development—and my social life in South Africa have given me a wide array of exposure to new technologies and young entrepreneurs that are emerging across the continent. It has been both inspiring and informative seeing and hearing these stories, considering that media coverage on Africa outside the continent does not shed light on this.

     In retrospect, SVMP was truly a transformational experience for me.” At the start of the week, they question was raised, “What will you do with your one wild & precious life?”   The week long experience prompted me to do a lot of self-reflection as I headed into my summer internship, and afterward, my final year in college. The SVMP experience motivated me to be bold yet methodical about the type of early career decisions and moves I would make; it forced me to look at marrying professional experience with personal passions.  Through various conversations I was deeply inspired by the drive, determination, and accomplishments of my peers in the SVMP 2010 Class.

     There were many memories and a couple always come to the front of my mind. The first was  The Circus case with Professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and the second was Professor Anita Elberse calling classmate Michael Finn, Flash before the start of one of her classes. At the end of the class on The Circus case, Professor Casadesus-Masanell was pouring with sweat, from running up and down the aisles from the students to the blackboard. The whole class stood-up and gave him a large round of applause when we finished the case. The second was just funny to observe during class–Professor Elberse noticed the name “Flash” on on Mike’s gym bag, and proceeded to call him that during class and he was surprised for the entire class period because he had no idea how Professor Elberse knew his nickname. Both these memories spoke volumes to how dynamic and engaging the faculty is at HBS-in addition to the amazing classroom experience.”

Connect with Nikki on LinkedIn

Alumni Beat 9: Harlem Walk Tour

Harlem 11

     On a gorgeous day in mid-September, SVMP Alumni in the Greater New York area came together for our 1st EVER walking tour and brunch event in one of the world’s most famous and iconic neighborhoods: HARLEM! Popularly known as a hub of African American culture and famous for its twentieth century renaissance, this area has seen dramatic changes and developments over its nearly 400 years of existence. SVMP Alumni explored the rich history and modern additions of this amazing community with the guidance and insights of a fantastic, professional tour guide.



     The tour commenced at the renowned Apollo Theater, where legendary performers like Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, and Michael Jackson have all graced the stage. During the comprehensive two hour walking tour, the group visited many notable sites such as Astor Rowe, the former site of Lenox Lounge, Sylvia’s Soul-Food Restaurant, and Hotel Teresa, just to name a few.  Intermixed with the neighborhood’s historic landmarks and brownstones, newer establishments and signs of development in the area were seen including the Magic Johnson Theatre, popular soul-food restaurant, Red Rooster,  the Office of President Bill Clinton, and new luxury apartment buildings.

     It was fascinating to see the transformation taking place in Harlem. The racial, cultural, and socioeconomic demographics of the area are changing with an influx in rent and property value. Gentrification is definitely in motion here.  It will be interesting to see how the neighborhood deals with these changes and continues to evolve over the next few years. While on the tour, alumni received a bonus event because the African American Day Parade was taking place; celebrating positive achievements and pride in the African American community. It was a great addition to a tour of an incredible neighborhood.

Harlem 1

The tour ended at neighborhood hot spot Harlem Tavern where brunch was held. Seated in the vibrant outdoor patio area of the restaurant under bright red umbrellas, the group socialized, networked, enjoyed delicious food, and reminisced about their amazing SVMP experiences at HBS. It was a terrific event that was fun, insightful, and extremely memorable. The SVMPAA looks forward to hosting more neighborhood tours!


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Alumni Beat 9: Professional Opportunities for Alumni




Forté MBALaunch

     The Forté MBALaunch for Women is a hands-on 10-month program for women intending to pursue an MBA degree. This program provides guidance, resources and ongoing feedback on the business school application process including a one-day launch event, monthly webinars, peer group meetings, and feedback from experienced advisors.

     The Forté MBALaunch for Women will give you a clear road map to help you navigate the MBA application process. Our line-up of speakers, workshops, resources, and advisors will help you “get it done” but also inspire you along the way so that you feel good about your future and how the MBA will support your personal and professional goals. Our intention is to make you the best MBA candidate possible.


More Information on Forté’s MBALaunch For Women

_______________________________________________________ Global Fellows

     Enables future global leaders from the business and social sectors to spend a year working full-time with experienced designers on social impact challenges in the United States and around the world. Fellows will create solutions for nonprofits, social enterprises, and foundations on an array of topics, like agriculture, water and sanitation, health, financial inclusion, unemployment, and more. Collaborating in small multidisciplinary teams, Fellows learn, grow, and innovate to make the world a better place.


More Information on IDEO’s Fellowship Program




NYU Stern’s William R. Berkley Scholarship Program 

     NYU Stern just launched a new scholarship program for a select group of exceptional college seniors to start Stern’s full-time MBA program directly following graduation. The scholarship was made possible by William Berkley, a generous alumnus, who followed a direct path from BS to MBA. It provides full tuition for the two years, plus a $28,000 stipend each year for living/book expenses.

More Information on the William R. Berkley Scholarship

Alumni Beat 9: Mentorship Program Spotlight



“Only three months in and the Mentorship program is going strong with over 60 mentees & 40 mentors collaborating to achieve the mentees’ goals for their undergraduate senior year.  We would especially like to congratulate Jhonnari and Alysha as our Mentor-Mentee Spotlight for this edition for their dedication and hard work! Thank you! “

Andrea Giraudo, Director of Professional Development & the Mentorship Program.


Alysha M. & Jhonna J. (1)
Mentor Jhonnari (left) and Mentee Alysha (right)  pose together.


     Alysha is a member of the SVMP Class of 2013 and a senior at Howard University studying Finance. She hopes to be accepted into HBS’s 2+2 program this year. Her long-term career goals are to start a non-profit for young females who lack positive role models and to become the CFO of a Fortune 500 company.  She shares her experience as a mentee in the SVMP AA Mentorship Program:

“Jhonnari has been a great mentor thus far. Not only has she been extremely supportive of my goals, but she has been understanding of my complex schedule. She has given great advice in regards to next steps I need to take to reach my goals and has been very helpful with her willingness to look over my 2+2 application essay. I am very thankful for her support and this program.”


Jhonnari is a member of the SVMP Class of 2012 and is currently an Associate at  Ernst & Young.  She shares how  mentoring for the SVMP AA Mentorship program has been both rewarding and motivating:

“I enjoy working with Alysha because she is both insightful and driven but most of all she is motivating. What Alysha may not know is that her hard work inspires me and hearing about her accomplishments during our calls makes me extremely proud.


Since being in the program, Alysha has been able to accomplish several of the goals outlined in her action plan. She has been preparing to take the GMATs through the use of self study materials as well as live classes. She has applied to and has interviewed with McKinsey, JPMorgan and Phillips 66. Lastly, I’d like to highlight that Alysha is well underway to completing her Harvard Business School 2+2 Application.”


Alysha and Jhonnari stay in touch through email updates and periodic phone calls. In addition, they have used Google Docs to create the goal action plan.


Connect with Alysha on LinkedIn

Connect with Jhonnari on LinkedIn