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