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Nov 2016

Meet the LGBT MBA Fellows: Alejandro Bolívar-Cervoni

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The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free lifetime access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBT mentors, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.

This fall Reaching Out welcomed the second class of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellows. These 44 fellows come from 30 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.

35 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2016-2017 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.

MEET ALEJANDRO BOLÍVAR-CERVONI (Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis)

Alejandro Bolívar-Cervoni is an MBA candidate for the Class of 2018 at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, he is a native Spanish speaker and a conversational French speaker. After completing his undergraduate studies at Duke University, he worked at the National Basketball Association as a Marketing Associate in its competitive rotational program (where he was one of eight hired from 3,000 applicants). At the NBA, he conducted competitive analysis and market research that helped quantify the NBA’s upcoming TV deal renewals valued at $24 billion (versus $930 million in 2007). Alejandro enjoys cooking and public speaking (in 2016 he completed the Toastmasters Competent Communicator Program).

What made you consider business school?
Following my graduation from Duke, I worked in marketing in New York, including at the NBA’s Associate Rotational Program. This opportunity solidified my desire to work in cross-functional teams and global matrixed organizations. Though I had a meaningful impact at the NBA conducting competitive analysis and market research, I desired a more holistic understanding of business. This included obtaining a stronger quantitative and analytical background by taking courses in finance, statistics, and economics. Additionally, in today’s increasingly globalized environment, I sought out deeper understanding of other cultures by working with international classmates. Taking advantage of travel opportunities—including spending a semester abroad—will also introduce me to best practices when working with diverse, multicultural teams. After completing my MBA I hope to work in brand & product management at a consumer packaged goods or technology company. My MBA experience will prepare me for these goals specifically by providing me with the analytical and management skills needed to enhance my background.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
I am most excited about opportunities to discover other international business cultures and customs and solidify my business network during my MBA journey. My ideal business school environment would include a small class size full of bright, diverse students, allowing me to strengthen my network. Identifying this environment early on in my search simplified the process; there are many great business schools, but each offers a different experience. I was extremely blessed to be accepted at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, a school that met both of these criteria for me where I am one of 132 members of the class of 2018. I was also honored to have been extended a merit-based full-tuition scholarship as a ROMBA Fellowship. I also wanted a great range of diversity, from cultural backgrounds and nationalities to industry experience. One of my classmates worked within the wine industry in the Midwest; another established an English-education company in China. Olin’s small size means I get to develop stronger ties with my colleagues and learn from their experiences. Olin offers specific experiential learning opportunities, allowing students to organize trips to countries like Japan and Peru, and to consult for local and international companies. I cannot wait to grow through these opportunities and connect with individuals that share a similar passion for business but have different cultural backgrounds.

Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?
I am so proud of corporate leaders that have strived to make business more inclusive for LGBT consumers and have given visibility to the LGBT community. I am grateful to Apple CEO Tim Cook for being open about his own experiences in business, leveraging his high profile as the leader of one of the world’s most successful companies. While at the NBA, I had the unique honor of meeting Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the League. Sports has a truly global reach, and I’m honored that Jason and the NBA have used their exposure to advocate for diversity and acceptance.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
My hobbies include cooking and public speaking. I enjoy that they are very practical. Nurturing my cooking abilities has proved beneficial during business school, as not only an affordable way to sustain myself but also to connect with classmates. I have hosted several potlucks this year and have introduced new friends to family recipes such as Cuban picadillo (sautéed ground beef), arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), and salted caramel flan. Last year in New York I bought a homemade ice cream maker as an impulse purchase but had no space for it in my mini-fridge; now I have been crafting new recipes to satisfy my sweet tooth. My goal is to take a cooking class in every new country I travel to (I learned to make Korean short rib while traveling in Seoul last March).

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