Inspiring the Next Generation of Future Business Leaders

Since 1996, ​Virtual Enterprises International​ (VE) has transformed the lives of more than 165,000 teens through a robust in-school program empowering students to test drive potential careers and develop professional, leadership, functional, and technical skills and competencies. VE’s mission is to ensure all young people have the opportunity to learn and succeed, regardless of their zip code. This vision is put into practice by equipping students with real life business skills that help them lead financially secure, successful lives. ​When Executive MBA Student, Anthony DeBellis, introduced us to VE, we immediately knew that we needed to get involved to help inspire future leaders. ​Now, more than ​20 ​Quantic ​students and alumni will be judges for VE’s national student business competitions.

VE programs guide youth to be adaptable, collaborative and self-directed. The company partners with schools, districts, and businesses across the United States to create educational pathways that align career education and work-based learning, with academic standards-based education. Guided by an industry-driven, educational framework, students launch and manage the growth of a company in a digital, international economy of more than 7,000 student-run businesses in 40+ countries. Through this, students learn how strong skills and a positive mindset can launch them into a successful future.

​Anthony DeBellis, a product management professional at Mastercard, has been involved with Virtual Enterprises for five years and believes its mentorship for young students is invaluable. “Looking back, my favorite memory was working with the students at Manhattan’s Business of Sports School. I was part of a volunteer team that visited the school a few times a month to work with students on their VE business. We would advise them, help them solve problems and share our experiences. When you start working with VE students at any level there are two things I always come back to: first, the students are inspiring, creative and have boundless potential. Second, the experience is rewarding and energizing.”

Anthony believes every high school student in the U.S. should have the opportunity to be part of an immersive VE classroom experience. He is continuing to help them grow by joining their NYC Advisory Board. “When I originally became involved with VE, I was working in banking and managing partnerships focused on bringing financial literacy to students through my organization. We were introduced to VE’s founder, Iris Blanc, at a Nasdaq Bell Ringing ceremony and immediately became enthralled with their vision. All these years later, I’m thrilled to still be engaged with the VE team.”

Students participating in the program are offered summits which are fully-interactive experiences that integrate a trade show atmosphere, workshops, special presentations, and networking opportunities. They offer many ways for students to develop and apply a full range of key career competencies, as well as interact with other VE students, educational leaders, community representatives, and real-world professionals.

Virtual Enterprises’ digital classrooms and Quantic’s pedagogy style both cater to a nontraditional entrepreneurial spirit. Anthony knows this is the perfect union, with the concept of modern education in mind. “I had long wanted to earn an MBA, however there is so much friction around traditional programs, in terms of logistics and costs. A former colleague of mine posted his Quantic degree on LinkedIn. I reached out to him to ask about his experience, and his feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Needless to say, I applied a week later and haven’t looked back.”

VE is a fantastic opportunity for Quantic students to give back to their community and impart valuable lessons to budding business leaders. We are thrilled to see so many of our students volunteer with Virtual Enterprises — we know they will be wonderful mentors to help inspire the next generation of trailblazers! If you or someone you know might be interested in volunteering, send an email to apena@veinternational.org.

Student Spotlight: Dr. Michael Lao Gives the Gift of Sight

Dr. Michael Lao has made it his mission to help the blind see. On an average day, he and his team perform more than 1,000 cataract surgeries in churches and schools. Not only does he travel around the Philippines to serve patients, but he doesn’t charge them a single cent. 

His passion to become a missionary developed when the devastating 2011 Japan tsunami flooded more than 200 miles of coastal land. “I was there during the tsunami, so I saw what it did,” says Michael. “I had a fellowship in Japan and saw how many people suffered. By experiencing this, I knew that a materialistic lifestyle was not for me. Life has to be about something bigger. Anything can be taken away from you at any given time. After that, I decided to become a missionary.” 

Michael began going from town to town, helping anyone with medical issues. He soon realized he would have to make this a sustainable effort. “Once I reached the age of 40, I told myself that I would completely stop charging patients. I started doing a lot of surgeries for free and needed to know how to make this a sustainable process. No one would ever have to pay and I could still cover all the expenses of surgery.” 

Everything fell into place when Michael’s patient, an 80-year-old farmer, insisted on giving him raw coffee as payment. “I like serving farmers and teachers because they’re the ones that are very underserved. They started giving me things like chickens, fruit, and vegetables. This one woman was going to go blind and had been turned away by three hospitals because she couldn’t afford it. I ended up saving her vision and she gave me raw coffee from her incredible farm in the mountains.”

At first, Michael wasn’t sure what to do with the raw coffee. “The funny thing is, I was a tea drinker and didn’t know anything about blends,” jokes Lao. He ended up bringing it to one of the best roasters in Japan and asked if he could please roast it for him. The roaster tried it and said it was the best coffee he had ever tasted. “I went back to that patient and she said she had more coffee. She had been picking it by herself in the mountains for years. She said she had neighbors that also harvested coffee and needed help with their sight. I started taking care of them and realized they were getting paid very low for their coffee. I said I would pay them double and they would be my patients for free. That’s how the coffee business became my thing.” 

Michael began selling the coffee in Tokyo and the funds drastically increased the amount of surgeries he could perform. “We ended up going to another area in the Philippines to serve those people. My patients took me to a cacao farm and my wife said, ‘Why don’t we try this, too.’ So, I started trading cacao in the same model. I had to study coffee like I was studying chemistry. I had to study chocolate fermentation of cacao like I was studying pharmacology. Of course it’s scary because you have to learn everything from scratch. The thing about being a missionary is that you’re not so scared to make mistakes. That’s life. You have to have the same mentality for business. You have to have the resilience and the grit to move on.” 

The resilience of Michael’s medical efforts to help patients has now turned into a work of art. Within two to three hours, he and his team clean and set up makeshift clinics in churches and schools. They can see more than 1,000 patients per day. “One cataract surgery would probably cost them 1,000 dollars. We do it for free. These people can’t afford these surgeries in our healthcare system. That’s unacceptable to me. So, we go to the people.” 

Michael is changing thousands of lives every day and has seen the miracle of receiving sight. “You do what you have to do to help people and every time you do, it’s a miracle. I couldn’t believe that people would crawl just to get to me. They cannot see. They have to crawl. So, I wash people’s feet and their hands. After the surgery, you start to see the miracle take over. They can be independent now and they start to cry. I always joke, ‘Please don’t cry because you still have sutures on.’” 

In order to impact the greatest number of people, he knew he would need as much business knowledge as possible. “I have to split my personality in two. I have a schedule when I am the CEO of a company and for the rest of the week, I am a missionary. You really have to have a strong mind to separate both aspects because one is about making money to sustain your efforts. These are hundreds of thousands of people that need our help. My company has 20 people, but it’s not about that. It’s about the people you impact; The farmers, the teachers, the fisherman. If I can’t fight for them, who will?” 

Michael realized that Quantic would be the perfect option to gain this business knowledge and pursue his Executive MBA. “Quantic gave me my shot and taught me a lot of things on the business side. Quantic is a multiplier. Whatever I learned from Quantic, I can multiply and serve more people and encourage other people to do the same.” 

Now, in his free time, Michael continues to expand his missionary work. He is helping to bring doctors together and develop solar power and fresh water innovations for communities. “We’re harvesting clean water, producing vegetables, and using the same free surgery method. I keep telling them that they will find the courage to move forward because they are directly seeing the stakeholders, which are the patients. Once you see them, you get enough courage to do anything to help.”

Five Questions for Free the PhD Founder, Vay Cao

Quantic Alum, Vay Cao, PhD, founded Free the PhD, a career development and advocacy platform for PhDs who want to learn more about the world outside of academia and kickstart an exciting career. You can check out their programs, talk to their advisors, and access their resources year-round.  Vay spoke with us about the initial inspiration and future goals for the program.

What inspired you to create Free the PhD? 

More PhD graduates are produced than there are traditional full-time faculty positions. This is a trend that has been happening for decades. The simultaneous shrinking of the academic faculty pool, especially in current times, has exacerbated an already stressful professional reality for many academics. Many who complete a PhD degree are not sure what they can do professionally afterwards. I was in this camp: not interested in continuing in academia, but not sure what else I could do.  After I made my own career transition, I was inspired to create Free the PhD because I didn’t want that experience to go to waste. 

How did you launch the platform?

It started off as a typical resume-editing service, but has evolved over the years into a platform where academics can do the important work of learning to shift their mindsets from that of only an academic, to a versatile professional. Free the PhD today is a supportive digital community. It’s a set of empathetic, practical online courses to assist academics in the career transition that’s right for them. There is personalized career guidance, provided by fellow PhDs. We teach PhDs how to free themselves from their own mental limitations and become independent job seekers, including guiding them on how to edit their own job applications and do their own interview preparation.

How would you like to see it expand in the future? 

The pool of PhD talent has so much to offer all sectors of society. I would love to continue reaching more PhDs interested in exploring and pursuing diverse career paths. Alongside our own career coaching, we have been doing workshops with different institutions and are piloting a joint career course with a UC university, which I hope might expand into other institutions that would like to work together to serve their trainees.

Why did you want to pursue your MBA? 

When I first began working outside of academia, I had no prior formal “work experience.” Joining a start-up out of grad school meant I was learning as I went every single day, trying new things and loving the experience. I realized I really wanted a comprehensive understanding of business, rather than this patchwork of information to make me a more effective and efficient professional. I enjoyed being in the business world, and wanted to ensure I was empowered to both deliver results and accelerate my career. 

What did you like about Quantic’s pedagogy method?

What I wanted from an MBA was to get the needed information in a streamlined, time-efficient, affordable, curated manner, all from a trusted source. Knowing that the people behind Quantic are proven in online education, and checking out the freely available Business Foundations courses on their app, helped convince me that this was exactly what I needed! Now that the Quantic MBA is officially accredited, I am even more convinced that I made the right decision in choosing Quantic.  

I have leveraged a lot of the business knowledge and frameworks from my Quantic MBA experience, both in my day job and constantly improving Free the PhD. Knowing that I have the fundamental knowledge needed to go out and make an impact in the world has provided me with the confidence that every professional and entrepreneur needs to succeed! 

Student Spotlight: Innovation to Bridge the Gap for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

MBA Student, Eva Michalkova, has obtained an Ivy League diploma, worked for a former US President, has been a contestant in multiple beauty pageants, and has been a world traveler since the age of six. But what is her life’s mission? Eva’s goal is to empower, lead and support the independence and integration of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals into the hearing-dominant world. 

When Eva was two years old, she was taken to an audiologist for examination because she did not respond to sounds. The results confirmed her hearing impairment – 99% hearing loss in both ears. Her mom became her rock and inspiration for Eva’s innovative career path. “My mom has been a huge inspiration of mine since I was a small kid,” says Eva. “When my hearing impairment was discovered, she did not give in, and she devoted all her time and effort to my personal development and spoken language acquisition. My mom is a truly capable woman who worked hard in silence to bring out the best in me. She was a leader who has shown incredible resilience during the most challenging times, and her determination over so many years has inspired me to be a resilient, responsible, reliable, and hard-working person.”

A few years ago, a visit to her audiologist led her on a path that would inspire her next career move: “I was handed a pair of the most advanced hearing aids, wired to a computer. They were so small — if they fell out you could accidentally swallow them  and not even notice. Increasing music volume, turning on ‘zen mode,’ setting up a restaurant mode, or pairing them with my iPhone —  I became a superwoman. I left the office so excited; I was blessed to have had my ears upgraded. But I also realized that not all people with hearing impairment are fortunate to communicate with their physicians so seamlessly and have the same advantages as I did. Therefore, my fiance and I signed up for two hackathons to address this obstacle and create a solution. That’s when the No F-ears mobile app prototype was founded.” 

The app was instantly popular and cleverly named to convey the idea, “No ears, no fears.” Its main goal was to dramatically improve the most important aspects of the deaf-hearing community experience, including booking appointments and doctor visits. A live chat tool facilitates a real-time conversation between a hearing doctor and deaf patient, simultaneously translating text into spoken words and vice versa. Since its launch, it has won multiple awards, including two international startup prizes: the 2018 Social Innovation Weekend Hackathon Award and the 2019 Social Impact Award in the Czech Republic.

The hackathon weekends proved to be a pivotal time in Eva’s career. “Both events provided us with a unique opportunity to meet new people and broaden our horizons. Executing an idea requires dedication, persistence, money, and time — not just a marketing budget. To solve the problem you have to know it from top to bottom. Innovators usually rise to the top as a result of substantial life-long expertise in their field, not from problem-solving in a vacuum.” Eva realized the problem was much more significant than just the communication barrier. Her vision could go far beyond a single app, so she created MIRAIO

MIRAIO is the world’s first go-to platform for all people with any hearing loss, at any stage of their lives. Unlike traditional organizations in this industry that communicate with their customers mainly through newsletters and blogs, MIRAIO connects with its audience through social media support with closed captions. The platform guides the viewer through real-life scenarios to ensure a successful integration into a hearing world. 

The global company has become even more popular during the recent pandemic. “COVID-19 and its stay-at-home measures have sparked a massive change in how deaf and hard-of-hearing people access information and healthcare,” says Eva. “The existing institutions’ traditional processes don’t focus on younger customers’ needs, use twenty-first technology, social media, or other modern tools and technology. We are the leaders, the advocates who speak up, and help both the hearing and deaf world move forward. We challenge the deeply-rooted status quo of the deaf society and its identity, and change the narrative of how people with hearing impairment are perceived in the hearing world” 

With the creation of MIRAIO, Eva was inspired to pursue her MBA with Quantic to continue to expand her platform and inspire others to become advocates for her cause. She knew she would need a flexible program to optimally fit into her busy schedule. “To succeed in the fast-paced business world, I aspired to obtain the business skills I needed to accelerate my career. I was looking for a solution that would be flexible with my schedule so I didn’t have to choose between my job and education — with Quantic, I could do both!” 

Eva’s goal is to have the global community eventually reach a point where deaf individuals can seamlessly interact with the hearing world and be independent, with no need for sign-interpreters. “The first and most essential step is to acknowledge the importance of inclusion and awareness of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Equity, inclusion, diversity —  when “hearing peers” use these terms, there is often a lack of understanding in regards to what it means to be truly inclusive of the deaf community. There needs to be profound and consistent efforts to make our voices heard, so that we can enact real change in this world.”

Student Spotlight: Sneakerhead, Kenneth Anand

Founder of 3 8 0 Group, Author, and former Yeezy General Counsel, Kenneth Anand, always ran full speed towards his goals. Besides his great love for hip hop and pop culture, that’s probably why he has an affection for sneakers and is even a self-proclaimed “Sneakerhead.” His drive and passion have always led him throughout his life and so far, he has been victorious in every race. 

After fifteen years of a successful law career, Kenneth realized that he wanted to leave his private practice and pursue his passion. “It was a wake up call for me,” says Anand. “I realized if there was any time to pivot, it was now. I could stay a partner and have a fine life, or I could try to find something that really ignited me.”  

He started pursuing his excitement for sneakers and focused on clients that were in the fashion and entertainment industries. It wasn’t long before an opportunity presented itself with one of his well-known clients, Yeezy Apparel. Kanye West’s sneaker and clothing brand wanted to hire Kenneth’s firm, but he had a better offer. “I used the opportunity to say, ‘Instead of hiring my law firm, why don’t you just hire me and I’ll come work for you guys full time.’”

Kenneth then became head of business development and general counsel to Yeezy, the leader in the multibillion-dollar global footwear industry. “When I left private practice to go to Yeezy, I didnt even think about the business world and I wasn’t anticipating making that transition. I was just trying to be the best lawyer for Kanye and Yeezy. I soon realized that every facet of my life, whether it was sneakers, fashion, hip hop, pop culture… everything that was interesting to me was rolled up into this one job. It’s so unique to find that sweet spot in your career and I felt like my life was coming full-circle.”

This inspired Kenneth to focus on the business side of the sneaker industry and pursue his MBA with Quantic. “I already knew everything there was to know about sneakers, so it was just very natural for me. What inspired me to go to Quantic was that there were terms being thrown around in business meetings by my CFO and it was like any foreign language that I needed to learn. I looked at many schools and at this phase in my life, it was less about where it was than the information itself and the quality of the learning. It was the perfect style of this learning for me. I could fly and do it on the plane, or do it in the morning before my kids got up, or after they went to bed.” 

He put these business tools to use in his daily life and knew the sneaker industry was his calling. “I knew that when Yeezy was over I needed to continue this. I didn’t want to go back to the practice of law, so I set myself up with the perfect segway.” 

In walks Sneaker Law, a bible for the sneaker industry. Kenneth and his partner, Jared Goldstein, decided to write a book that combines the legal and business side to the footwear world. “The topic of Sneaker Law came about even before I went to Yeezy,” says Anand. “The sneaker business is a 90-billion dollar industry, but most people think you can just buy a pair of sneakers and sell them for money. The goal was to introduce them to all these topics that would otherwise be daunting and standoffish, like business and law, and offer it in a way that was digestible and exciting.” 

Now, Sneaker Law goes far beyond the pages of a book. Anand and Goldstein recently lectured on the topic at Harvard Law School in January. “This is more than a book. We can go teach this, have an online course, there could be a podcast. Having that experience of making a business plan from start to finish at Quantic was extremely useful and now I have the needed confidence. All the things that I learned at Quantic were put to the test and used practically.” 

What is the latest goal that Kenneth is confidently chasing? He and former Yeezy CEO, Cristiano Minchio, have founded 3 8 0 Group, a fashion licensing company that helps celebrities, creatives, and rising brands grow and develop. “We have this bleeding heart for creatives and we just want to see creative people thrive. We set out to create a holding company that would help brands grow and develop in all ways. We take brands and we provide the infrastructure to grow. We’ve aligned with brands like Will Smith’s brand, Bel-Air Athletics, and will be debuting the first collection at our showroom in Milan.” 


Sneaker Law will hit shelves this December. Hardcover pre-orders are available now on sneakerlaw.com and e-book versions will be available on Amazon by mid-October. “As soon as you start doing what you love on a regular basis, you’re just compelled to do more to solidify your position. That’s what drives me,” Says Anand. “It’s a testament to where life can take you if you just go after what you’re most passionate about and give it your all.”

Student Spotlight: Dr. Noble Adapts to Create Solutions During the Pandemic

“I saw a patient who walked in with a little difficulty and complained of extreme fatigue. I remember speaking to him, having a normal conversation, while conducting my examination. I was shocked and horrified to see this man having a full conversation with me had a blood oxygen saturation reading of 34%. His chest x-ray was remarkable and I immediately phoned an internist for his admission to the intensive care unit. His only positive COVID-19 criterion was fatigue. He did not even complain of shortness of breath, fever, or have any of the other typical symptoms. That evening, as I did my admission follow-up calls, I was told that he had been placed on a ventilator within two hours of arriving in ICU. I had never seen such a quick deterioration. Luckily, this patient improved quite miraculously and he is one of my favorite recovery stories.” 

This type of rapid patient deterioration became a common occurrence at the beginning of the pandemic in the Johannesburg, South Africa hospitals where Executive MBA Student, Dr. Teneel Noble, works as an ER physician. “A patient would come in speaking and by the end of your hospital shift, they would be requiring some sort of ventilatory support. By the time you came in for your next shift, they had passed away. It was scary to witness,” says Noble. 

During the beginning of the pandemic, many of the hospitals had to rapidly convert their resuscitation rooms and non-emergency consultation rooms into COVID-19 red zones. This is where positive patients were cared for, as well as anyone exposed to the disease. “While hospitals, clinics and medical practices all have certain baselines and infectious control standards that need to be adhered to at all times, COVID-19 caused many complications to arise during implementation of these. This is mainly because massive infrastructure reallocation and subdivisions had to be achieved because the disease is so easily transmitted from person to person.”

Moving between the red zone and normal zone became a mission and a constant cycle of changing gowns and personal protective equipment (PPE). “Coming into the red zone requires putting on new personal protective equipment and new gowns each and every time. Coming out of the red zone requires removing all the gowns and personal protective equipment again. This cycle continues for each movement between zones. In an average shift, one could change in excess of 80 times.”

Dr. Noble in a Johannesburg Resus room, during the height of the pandemic.

Beyond facility logistics, staffing shortages, due to people contracting the disease, and lack of PPE began to become a reality. “Outside of the ER, in the community, due to the sheer amount of PPE, massive restructuring of schedules had to be undertaken to accommodate staffing of the ER. Due to the sheer amount of PPE that we were using, we needed to find a way that was cost effective and yet still efficient. I ended up having to buy a large number of refuse bags, as they were essentially what was needed. I cut out space for my hands and arms and used that. I was also able to recycle it in a sense, I would take it off, wash it in soap and water, dry it out and then dip it again in 70% alcohol.” 

Adapting to situations and finding quick solutions became a goal of Dr. Noble. Her startup, Medica Alliance International, now has an entire MDConnect wing dedicated to providing medical support for COVID-19. “My own personal practice endeavors have evolved since the start of COVID-19. What I love most about my job is the ability to make a tangible difference in the lives of others, and at the same time to learn and relearn on a daily basis. Medicine is not an exact science. It is science that draws upon the facts and also draws upon intuition when the facts do not make sense.”

Dr. Noble’s personal practice is what inspired her to pursue an MBA. Quantic’s flexible platform was the perfect fit. “After practicing clinical medicine for a few years, eventually settling in Emergency Medicine, I noticed there were many things that could change on the business side. Quantic has revolutionized how an MBA program should be run. Being in this profession, having a career with timely demands, and not being in a constant location, made it refreshing to find a program that took all of that into consideration. Quantic enables one to complete the coursework and requirements without burning out and trying to fit all spheres into a rigid schedule.”

After witnessing these pandemic hospital experiences first-hand, Dr. Noble has advice for a potential second wave. Her main takeaway is to stay vigilant and stay active. “One of the most important things to get through to the general public is that relaxation of lockdown does not mean that the pandemic is over. In fact, it means that despite greater freedoms, there should be greater awareness of preventative strategies. Mental health is also a major issue. This time may produce frustration, anger, depression, as well as anxiety. Physical exercise is very important. It will relieve stress and release those needed endorphins.”

Student Spotlight: Creating Efficiency and Optimization in the Healthcare Arena

Quantic Alum, Anne Michael, has always been intrigued by resource usage and constraints within the healthcare arena. She is currently the VP of Operations at Focused Software where she combines knowledge gathered during her years as an active physician, with her business knowledge to make sure both clinical and non-clinical team efforts always benefit the patient. 

“Most doctors, as expected, tend to stick to the clinical side of things and do some administrative work on the side,” says Anne.

“ I realized that I wanted to focus on the administrative/business side of things, rather than split time between the two. I came to this decision following my observation that there was frequently a communication disconnect between the clinical and administrative teams at most healthcare institutions. It seemed to me that since we were all there for the patients’ benefit, working together instead of in an antagonistic fashion made more sense.” 

This inspired her to pursue solutions for efficiency and optimization of processes. “The way resources are used at a macro-level really impacts the healthcare of individual patients. However, I realize that most physicians have as much as they can manage on their plates, just doing clinical work, without having to think of the economics/business side of things. Those of us who do have an interest in the actual corporate administration of medicine should seek opportunities to improve our business skill set to create better processes, conditions and resource allocation for our colleagues and patients.”

Focused Software is working to diminish this disconnect. The company provides systems that enable businesses to become more efficient in their documentation, billing, administrative and supervisory functions, so that they can maximize the time spent actually providing care for their patients. As their VP of Operations, Anne leads her team in determining corporate direction, managing change implementation, and making sure company goals and client needs are met. Anne knew she would need a business background in order to be successful in her role. “The only way I saw to do this was to get a business education for myself, so that I could better understand both sides. I know that I am now uniquely qualified to foster communication, solution generation and implementation for those in healthcare on both sides of the aisle.”

Quantic was Anne’s choice to earn her MBA degree because she could complete courses while working or traveling. “I soon realized that to truly get to the next level, I would need some sort of structured educational program that would direct and integrate essential business knowledge in a timely fashion. That’s where Quantic came in! The fact that it is online, accredited, fun, has a great network of international alumni, staff and current students made this an easy decision.” 

Now more than ever, great communication is needed between clinical and non-clinical teams to create solutions that best address patients’ needs, while optimizing limited resources. “The clinical knowledge I gained during my years as an active physician helped me better understand the needs of Focused Software clients and preempt their future needs. With belief, enthusiasm, a great team and a little bit of humor, a lot can be achieved.” 

Girl Up’s Virtual Summit Empowers Thousands of Young Leaders

Girl Up Communications & Digital Media Associate and Quantic Alum, Naomi Naik, helps girls broaden their social impact skillset, apply STEM for good, and create policy change. This leadership program, founded by the United Nations Foundation, reaches tens of thousands of girls around the world. When COVID-19 hit, she knew their mostly in-person global leadership summits would need to adapt to the “new normal.” Her team worked diligently to create a virtual platform that gained the attention of many global leaders and was viewed by thousands of attendees. Here is her story: 

When the United Nations Foundation decided to go remote in March, I knew this would be a unique time that would present professional and personal challenges that none of us had previously experienced. Shortly after the virtual workplace pivot, UNF launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund through a virtual press conference with Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros. This fund pools resources from companies, philanthropies, and individuals to contribute directly to WHO’s work to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the last week of July, the Fund has raised over $225 million from more than 560,000 individuals, companies, and philanthropies. Although these efforts would not have been a priority without the virus, the ability for our organization as a whole to set this up in a matter of days after closing our physical office was inspiring enough for my own team to take some notes.

I manage digital and editorial strategy at Girl Up, a leadership development movement that engages, trains, and mobilizes girls around the world to take action to achieve global gender equality. Girl Up provides leadership training and gives girls tools to become gender equality advocates and activists. Through our programs, girls broaden their social impact skillset, benefit from a platform to tell their stories, and apply STEM for social good. Our girl leaders create real policy change at local and national levels, help raise millions of dollars to support United Nations programs that reach tens of thousands of girls around the world, and build community-based movements. Girl Up was founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010, and continues to work across a global community of partners to achieve gender equality worldwide.

Most of Girl Up’s engagement with girls around the world occurs in-person, at our global Leadership Summits, STEM bootcamps, and professional development panels. We had to adapt this component of our organization ASAP in order to keep up with the times. By the third week of March, we had lined up panels and webinars for our community to hear from girl activists, global leaders, and professionals in the fields of gender equality, mental health, STEM, storytelling, and social justice.

These panels brought in over 2,000 attendees weekly, almost surpassing the number of girls we can usually host at an in-person event by tenfold. 

However, another challenge lay ahead: How would we host our annual Girl Up Leadership Summit virtually? The “Zoom fatigue” was beginning to set in, and not in an escapable way. We brainstormed how to create an interactive experience online that could increase our reach given the Summit was usually in Washington, D.C. and capped at 450 attendees.

Our team worked diligently for weeks, in the midst of also hosting a massive graduation celebration for the Class of 2020 and re-evaluating our curriculum with the new wave of social justice accountability. We made sure all of our programming would give girls a platform to speak on the current situation around the world when it came to the intersectionality of gender equality and socioeconomic barriers, racial justice, climate change, period poverty, and so many other important topics. 

And then the speakers began to confirm:

And so many more! We never imagined that going virtual would actually allow for our organization to catch the attention of global leaders and changemakers like these. And that lack of expectations, but overflowing aspirations brought in more than 80 speakers, 40,000 global attendees and quite a few new sponsors. 

Being a Quantic MBA student during this experience made me a valuable asset to my team as well. Using my supply & operations coursework to guide how we set up “flow” within the virtual platform, using my strategy coursework to work together with sponsors to optimize our partnerships, and using my data & decisions coursework to then analyze all the data post-Summit allowed me to put my education to true use in a high-stakes setting.

My story is not unique if you examine how many organizations have been forced to innovate. However, the impact of the 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit is already tangible as girls have started 52 Clubs last week alone, signed up for five future virtual events, and been part of 3.6 billion social media impressions for Girl Up, just this month. One day, COVID-19 will be over, but the effect will be everlasting on all of us, especially our youth. It’s imperative we use these times to not only inspire and push ourselves to create something new, but also help this generation and generations to come find their passions to turn them into action.

The Quantic community can’t wait to see what’s next for Naomi, Girl Up, and the bright futures of the countless young leaders that they will continue to inspire to help make this world a better place.

Student Spotlight: Tracey Mullen Promoted to CEO at Abveris

It’s extremely rare for a CEO and company owner to voluntarily step down to enable someone else to lead the organization because he or she feels that person is more equipped for the role. But that’s exactly what happened in Tracey Mullen’s case at Abveris, a leader in contract research antibody discovery. She has now been promoted from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer. 

Co-founder Garren Hilow, will now take over as the Chief Business Officer. He knew Tracey was the perfect fit for the CEO role because he wanted, “an elite scientist” to be leading his organization. 

“As we move out of our startup phase and continue to stay at the forefront of antibody discovery, we feel that it makes sense to focus on leadership with more of a scientific background–and an EMBA background provides a nice bonus,” says Mullen. 

Tracey has always had a strong passion for science and biology. She is a Chemical-Biological engineer from MIT who began her career in antibody discovery in an effort to combine all of her scientific passions into one role . “I started learning how the body fights illness and I thought it was fascinating. I decided to jump into a startup in the antibody space immediately after graduating college to learn even more, and I’ve been in antibody discovery since then.”

Abveris, a premier antibody discovery CRO, offers end-to-end mAb discovery services. The company operates in the biologic drug discovery space, specifically in antibody therapeutics for development. This includes two recent, ongoing campaigns for antibody discovery against the COVID-19 spike protein.

Tracey joined Abveris as Director of Antibody Discovery Operations in spring of 2018 after deciding to make a big career change and step away from the bench. “I ran into Garren–Abveris’ CEO at the time–just as he was looking to bring on an antibody scientist for a business role. I loved the position so much that it prompted me to jump into an MBA program.”

Quantic was Tracey’s choice because she could simultaneously pursue her career and educational goals. “I found the program to be incredibly valuable because I could stay in my field while fast-tracking my learning, as opposed to slowly learning it on my own or stepping away from industry to go back to school. The knowledge base I gained from the program helps me immensely in my new role as CEO.” 

Tracey’s goal as CEO of the company is to help build out an all-inclusive discovery platform to deliver development-ready drug candidates in industry-leading timelines. “We currently fit nicely into the hit generation space of the overall drug discovery process. Over the next year or so, as we continue to build out our platform and bring on new capabilities, we aim to expand our workflows to enable lead ID and lead optimization as well. Essentially, I want us to be able to grow into a larger space within the industry as a whole.”

Student Spotlight: A Deeper Meaning to Architectural Design

How would you define architecture? Steve Kredell, Principal Architect at McLeod Kredell Architects, has always believed that architecture is more than a simple building to shelter and protect its inhabitants. His innovative, sustainable and clean-lined designs have won countless awards. This year, he received global recognition when MKA was selected by Architectural Record as one of the top ten worldwide Design Vanguard firms.

Kredell’s passion for architecture started at a young age. His childhood walks with his father ignited his inspiration to look at the world differently. “He used to go out of his way to take me to look at what seemed to be very ordinary things,” says Kredell. “For instance, we looked at a lot of bridges when I was a kid. Through his eyes, I realized that there’s nothing “ordinary” or mundane about any human-made intervention. Those bridges weren’t just ways to get from one side to the other. They were beautiful in their own right, but, more importantly, they also enabled us to see the river, where we were going, and where we were coming from in a different way.  I believe this is what can be wonderful about buildings. They can help us see the environment and the world in a different way.” 

Photo courtesy McLeod Kredell Architects

This passion continued to grow and Kredell began collaborating with John McLeod, in the mid-90s, after meeting in graduate architecture school at Virginia Tech. The two created McLeod Kredell Architects, which is now built around the practice, teaching and community engagement of architecture. They believe, “Architecture grows out of its particular place and time–yet at its best it also transcends those limits. In the end, architecture should be inspiring–for the client, the architect, the builder, the passerby.”

This belief especially rings true now that the majority of people are spending more time at home than ever before. “We all need to ask more from our buildings – especially given the amount of time we spend indoors by ourselves now,” says Kredell. “We need to look at how buildings can be regenerative and how they can contribute to not just serving a need to house and protect us, but as part of a global environmental solution. But, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our buildings aren’t merely machines.  As our lives become dominated by screens and images, architecture has to continue to serve as a means to be connected to the natural world.” 

Connecting to the natural world has been a big initiative for MKA. The two architects bring a team of Middlebury College students to Penobscot Bay, Maine, for a weeklong design-build class each summer that results in such useful community projects like composting stations. It also has an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Addison County and Middlebury College, where McLeod teaches, to design and build houses in the county for those in need.

“We believe that anyone and anywhere deserves design,” says Kredell. “We believe in spreading the wealth of architecture through teaching, working with private clients, partnering with communities, and building alongside students and volunteers. Good design should be for everyone. That’s a trend that I sincerely believe has to continue.” 

It was this passion for volunteering that actually led Kredell to pursue his MBA with Quantic. “My business partner and I started a non-profit program that brought community based designs to places and projects that typically wouldn’t have access to design. This opened my eyes to help me understand that we weren’t being as creative with the “design” of this new venture because we didn’t have an understanding of the nuances of a new business. I believed that Quantic’s MBA would allow me to be more creative and, really, to have a new experience and more well-rounded world view.”

As the world continues to change, so does the future and importance of architectural design. “We need to realize that architecture at its best allows us to touch the world in so many different ways. Just like those original bridges, architecture allows us to understand our world and nature in a more meaningful way. I think that’s more important than ever.” 

The Quantic community has no doubt that McLeod Kredell Architects will continue to push architectural boundaries and their designs will continue to inspire others to look at the world in a different light.