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.