Keynote Speaker: Jos Anna Dirkx
Coach, Speaker, Strategist
Founder and Director
Author of “Tackled!”
Jos Anna Dirkx is an international public speaker, a marketing and communications advisor and world traveler. She is the founder of Girls & Football SA, an award-winning NGO, which has received a letter of recognition from former First Lady Michelle Obama. She is a two-time TEDx speaker, a 2013 Women Deliver Young Leader and the Managing Director of a creative communications consultancy based in Dubai, the UAE. In the first year of inception, her team received a Bronze Award at the Transform Awards MENA. She co-launched a mobile health app, mGirls, which delivered free healthcare information to 65,000 girls.
Her upbringing in 12 countries and travel through 95 countries fuels her passion for creativity, cross-cultural communications, and arts-based storytelling, and led her
to a new venture, the DxBAcademy, which focuses on reinspiring creativity for professional success. She is passionate about working with people in creative spaces
to ensure personal and collaborative success.
Dan Kohn ’83
Vice President Marketing
Dan Kohn was the VP Marketing at Tenna LLC, a young tech startup that helps businesses find more value from their industrial assets, using IoT technology and SaaS. Previously, he spent 15 years at Pitney Bowes, holding several executive positions including; Chief Marketing Officer of the Small Business Market (2000-2006), Leader of the Global Integrated Strategy (2006), Vice President of Corporate Marketing (2007-2013) and VP Global Product Marketing (2013 – 2015). In these roles, he led product marketing for the mailing business, which generated 60% of the company’s revenue, and was responsible for redefining and relaunching the company’s brand to align with new corporate strategy. In his earlier positions, he held roles of increasing responsibility in consumer financial services marketing at JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup.
Ask me about: Working in very large corporations and working in young startups
Sidney Nakahodo ’05
Co-Founder and CEO
New York Space Alliance
Sidney N. Nakahodo is a leading authority in space entrepreneurship, and co-founder and CEO of the New York Space Alliance. In parallel to entrepreneurial activities, he has been active in the academic setting as a visiting scholar and member of the Columbia University faculty. He is a former fellow of Singularity University, a think-tank and accelerator based at the NASA Ames Research Park, in Silicon Valley. Previously he worked with private sector development and carbon finance initiatives at the World Bank. Sidney holds an MIA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a B. Eng. in Materials Engineering from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). He is a graduate of Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program, which he attended on a Google-sponsored scholarship, and the Kiel Institute’s Advanced Studies Program in International Economic Policy (Germany).
Ask Me About: Entrepreneurship, International Development, and International Organizations
Nevena Rakonjac ’17
Advance Policy Manager
NYC Department of Education
Formerly a biochemistry and cancer researcher, Nevena Rakonjac transitioned to a career in education in 2011. She taught high school science in South Bronx as a 2014 Teach for America corps member. She has worked on data and policy analysis for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, in D.C. as well as for the Deputy Major of Education’s Office in D.C., where she helped develop and pilot a new STEM initiative in urban high schools. Nevena received her master’s degree in education policy from Teachers College in May. She is currently an Education Pioneers Fellow and is working as a Advance Policy Manager at the NYC Department of Education, Affinity Field Support Center.
Ask me about: Education, government, non-profits, chemistry, academia
Cesar Vichido ’08
Senior Front End Developer
Cesar Vichido lived in IHouse from 2005 to 2008 (He was teaching salsa classes at the PUB until 2011). He went to Columbia University for a M.S. in Computer Science. He has been working as a front end developer ever since in the corporate and the startup world. Currently he works at a startup that offers health discounts to people with no health insurance.
His previous job was at CBS (for over 4 years).
Ask me about: Life in a corporate vs startup world, what companies are looking for when hiring developers, experience with visas (OPT, F1, TN, H1B etc…)
Luc Jansen ’04
Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Luc Jansen is a corporate partner in the Investment Funds Group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He has extensive experience representing U.S. and non-U.S. sponsors in the formation of private investment funds across a variety of strategies, including private equity and buyout funds, distressed funds, real estate funds, credit funds, infrastructure funds, funds of funds, and financial services funds.
Luc also counsels private equity sponsors on a wide range of matters, such as the establishment, documentation, and implementation of internal firm management, minority sale transactions, corporate governance, and succession planning arrangements.
Prior to joining Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Luc had significant experience working on fund formation teams in both New York and London counseling his clients in a variety of high-profile and complex transactions. His cross-border background in private investment funds makes him particularly qualified to address the global needs of his clients within the U.S. and the U.K.
Ask me about: Networking, and legal careers in American law firms.
Peter Vanham ’13
Media Lead, US & Industries
World Economic Forum
Author, “Before I Was CEO”
Peter Vanham is an author, media professional and business journalist, living in New York. Since 2014, he is the US media lead for the World Economic Forum, overlooking the institutions US media relations, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Reuters.
His first book, “Before I Was CEO”, about the life stories and lessons from leaders before they made it to the top, was published with Wiley (2017). It features the stories of 20 global leaders, including the CEOs of Heineken, Nestle, Tupperware, the Chairmen of Bain & Company and AT Kearney, and the deans of Wharton and London Business School, a.o.
Neill E. Parker Jr. AIA LEED AP ’82
Stonehill & Taylor Architects, PC
Neill Parker’s three-decade architectural career has been centered on creatively adding to, enhancing, and preserving existing environments and buildings of high architectural and environmental quality. His clients have included academic, commercial, and governmental owners and developers of campus, historic, and unique properties. His projects have included master plans for multi-acre developments, designs for new buildings, and renovation/restoration designs for historic and existing buildings. Since the turn of the millennium his practice has focused mostly on hospitality projects.
Ray Johnson is Vice President of Corporate Sustainability in the United States for HSBC – Bank, which comprises all of HSBC’s U.S. businesses. HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC) is the parent company of the global HSBC Group, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations.
Over the past 30+ years with HSBC, Ray has served in various roles including sales, mortgage underwriting, collections, customer service, marketing, operations, and since 2009 in corporate sustainability.
In his position, Ray is responsible for U.S. corporate sustainability and community investment strategies primarily focused on future skills (employability & financial literacy).
Ray has received HSBC’s Diversity Ambassador Award, CEO Award and Premier Manager Award.
In 2016 and 2017, he received the prestigious HSBC Culture Hero Award, recognizing individuals who exemplify, model, and implement HSBC values.
Ray resides in Long Island City, Queens, currently serves as a New York City Council Budget Delegate and formerly served 3-terms as an Oak Park, Illinois city councilman.
Ask me about: My career path!
Siong-Hu Wong ’16
Regulatory Analyst & Econometrist
Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP
Siong-Hu is a regulatory analyst and econometrist at Windels Marx, a full service law firm based in Manhattan. He is currently responsible for conducting research and and market studies that focus on the technological and economic settings of for-hire vehicle industries in the US and around the world.
Prior to Windels Marx, Siong-Hu worked with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS), the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and Cleantech Open Northeast (CTO). Earlier in his career at KLA-Tencor, a leading semiconductor company, he was involved in several technology transfers from Silicon Valley to Singapore.
Siong-Hu holds an MS in Energy & Environment Policy – summa cum laude – from New York University (NYU) and a BS in Electronics Engineering from Multimedia University (MMU) in Malaysia.
Ask me about: all things related to the H-1B visa, job hunting, and career change
Kofi Deh ’12
Weill Cornell Medicine
Kofi Deh was was a resident of International House from 2009 to 2012 while studying Medical Physics at Columbia. Prior to this, he worked as a software developer at the telecommunications companies, Nokia and Motorola.
He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in biophysics at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medicine. His hobbies are team sports and the study of economic development.
Ask me about: My experiences in the telecommunications and biomedical research fields
Sergei Mikhelson ’94
High School Mathematics Teacher
I started my professional career as an educator in Russia over 25 years ago. I served as a teacher, school vice-principal, Director of St. Petersburg branch of the City As School international program. In the 90’s I got a great chance to earn my Master’s Degree at Teachers College, Columbia University. Since then I was fortunate to teach at BMCC, NYU, Brooklyn Friends School, to work as an expert to the International Debate Educational Association (IDEA). For the past ten years I have been a faculty member of LREI, an independent progressive K-12 school with rich history in Manhattan. For three years I served as the Mathematics Department Chair.
Ask me about: progressive education, teaching career, New York independent schools, some aspects of international education
Altan Ergun ’03
Founder and CEO
The Founder and CEO of ECM, Altan has built a strong track record as a long/short, event driven opportunistic value investing focusing mostly on special situations. He managed a long/short, event driven, value investing based trading strategy at The Pictet Group, AP and (CDPQ) Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec where he had positive returns during 2008 great recession when S&P500 was down 35% . Previously he was a Senior Analyst at Oppenheimer Funds Value Equity Team with 16.5 Billion USD in assets covering Technology, Energy, and Utilities sectors. He holds a Master’s Degree in Financial Engineering from Columbia University received in 2002. He graduated from University of Michigan with a Dual Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Electrical Engineering in 2000. Altan is a member of Economic Club of New York.
Ask me about: Value Investing, Investment Management, Global Markets, Geopolitics of Energy, Career Advice
Joan Ricart-Huguet ’11
I am a PhD candidate in the Politics Department at Princeton. Previously, I obtained an MA in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences from Columbia University as a recipient of la Caixa Graduate Fellowship. I also hold a BA in Political Science and Public Management from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and spent my undergraduate year abroad at the University of California, Berkeley. I have consulted for Innovations for Successful Societies in Mexico, worked as a principal investigator with Innovations for Poverty Action in Uganda, and interned at the United Nations Association and at the World Bank in Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. My work has appeared in Studies in Comparative International Development and Public Choice.
Ask me about: Pursuing a Ph.D. in social sciences, what the Ph.D. life is like, career options (academia vs. international organizations)
Mario Nascimento ’12
Policy and Planning Officer
Mario Nascimento has over 10 years of experience with international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the World Bank, UNDP and the United Nations Secretariat. This includes significant field experience in Colombia and Afghanistan. Since December 2016, Mario has served as a DDR Policy and Planning officer in UN Headquarters in New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Brasilia – UnB (Brazil) and a master’s degree in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs (SIPA).
Ask me about: Working in conflict-affected countries and working for international organizations UNHQ and field
Patricia Vardin ’72
Manhattanville College, School of Education
I received a doctorate at Columbia University, Teachers College. My expertise is in early education and child development. I have taught graduate and undergraduate students as well as young children.
I have written articles, conducted research, designed curriculum and developed a model program, given presentations nationally and internationally, served on boards, including as state president of my professional organization, received awards , consulted and done interviews and commentary for tv, radio, newspapers, magazines and directed numerous conferences in my field.
I also wrote an online blog for two years and created and published a DVD on child guidance. I love my profession and have always found it to be stimulating and satisfying.
Ask me about: careers in teaching at the college level as well as in the early childhood classroom. Working with parents and families, or as an educational consultant.
Anju Dubey ’04
State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center
I took an unconventional path into medicine: I first completed a BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, then decided to go to medical school. My choice of specialty was also influenced by my background; I chose to go into Radiology because of my technical knowledge of medical imaging gained while studying engineering. I am not what most people think of when they think of a doctor; I sit behind the scenes, analyzing X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and Ultrasounds. However I find this exciting and fulfilling as I play an important role in diagnosis for so many patients.
Ask me about: changing careers from engineering to medicine
Lannia Small ’09
Deputy Executive Director
NYC Center for Youth Employment
Lannia Small is currently the Deputy Executive Director at the NYC Center for Youth Employment. The Center is a public-private partnership that aims to connect young New Yorkers to more opportunities for career exposure, summer jobs, quality skills-building programs, supportive mentors, and thoughtful guidance towards college and a career.
Prior to joining the Center, Lannia worked for many years as strategy consultant specializing in non-profit management and corporate sustainability. Some of her clients included Asia Society, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Nestlé, Pfizer, and BHP Billiton.
Lannia holds a bachelors in International Relations and French from Wellesley College, as well as Masters degrees in International Affairs and Business Administration from Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris.
Ask me about: Public-private partnerships and international consulting
Laura Cantekin ’12
Feature Story News
Laura Cantekin is a producer for Feature Story News in its New York bureau where she produces radio and television for outlets in China, Singapore, Turkey, and South Africa – just to name a few. Her beats include the United Nations and New York city arts and culture.
Before becoming a journalist Laura worked in philanthropy as a grant-maker for community development and youth-focused organizations. She has also worked on projects for Sesame Street and Elle Magazine.
Laura holds a Master’s from Columbia University Teachers College in International Educational Development and a Bachelor’s from Pitzer College.
Ask me about: changing careers after grad school, appealing to an international audience, how to convince people to talk to you on camera
Bina Bhatia ’15
Andre Kikoski Architects
Bina Bhatia is an Architect and Urban Designer and a graduate from the Master of Architecture and Urban Design program at GSAPP, Columbia University. She works as an Architectural Designer and Zoning specialist for Andre Kikoski Architects. Her design contributions can be seen in multi-scalar projects ranging from master planning for sustainable luxury holiday homes and university campuses to high rise condominiums and private residences in New York, LA, San Diego, China and India. At Columbia University, she was awarded the Kinne fellowship for her research project on Informal Markets as Public Spaces in Mexico City. She co-founded Blank Slate Design Studio in 2012 to introduce design at an affordable price point, and is involved in the design and execution of private residences and retail stores across India.
Ask me about: Next steps after graduation, different career possibilities after Architecture, various work visa options, job hunting tips
Sarah Cundiff ’11
Marketing & Communications Executive
Sarah Cundiff is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications at Abacus Group, a leading provider of hosted IT solutions and service specialized in alternative investment firms (such as hedge funds) across the US and in the UK. Sarah has extensive experience in marketing, communications, and management across a variety of industries, including technology, real estate development, consumer product goods, and education.
Originally from Washington, DC, Sarah has a BA in English writing from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, and an MBA in marketing and strategy from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.
Sarah was a resident of I-House in the summer of 2011 during her MBA while participating in an intensive summer program focused on global finance, marketing and leadership at the Levin Institute in Manhattan.
Ask me about: Tips for your LinkedIn profile (or anything else really)
Jona Noka ’16
Junior Project Manager
Atelier New York Architecture
Jona is an architect working for a medium size architectural firm in Long Island City, focusing in residential architecture. Her work has given her exposure in NYC Building Codes, coordination with clients and other specialists of the field. Prior to that she has worked in her home country, Albania, in urban design and urban planning projects. In 2016, she decided to work on having a change in her career path and enrolled in an MBA program. Jona holds a Msc. in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia Univeristy and is an MBA candidate from Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College.