Networking With the SEMBA Advisory Board

This article was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17. 

To kick-off the autumn SEMBA Advisory Board Meeting, the program’s co-directors and coordinators planned a reception and speed networking event to bring students and advisors together in a formal yet familiar atmosphere. As a SEMBA candidate, one main benefit (among many) is the unique opportunity provided to connect with a variety of seasoned professionals in a range of fields from local, sustainable-energy to impact investing and global healthcare. These prestigious industry leaders have committed to serve on the SEMBA advisory board and invest in its students as well as in the direction and future of the program.

We had the good fortune of getting to know them personally as they welcomed us with enthusiasm at the Advisory Board dinner at Hotel Vermont on October 27, 2016. This intimate event fostered the ideal environment for us to learn more about these industry leaders and their work in sustainable business, as well as the motivators that lead them into their current roles.

Personally, it feels like such an honor to be part of such a bright and driven community of individuals committed to seeing SEMBA and every student succeed. Unlike other graduate programs (that I am aware of), our program coordinators take the time to intentionally connect students with the advisors, but they don’t stop there – they also invite SEMBA faculty and alumni, making each event feel like a reunion of SEMBA family rather than a formal event.

Prem Timsina, SEMBA Faculty
Prem Timsina, SEMBA Faculty

“This event models real life,” says faculty member Prem Timsina regarding the opportunity to network and connect with all types of people across industries, backgrounds, and interests, “…only in this department do you get to mix advisors, faculty, students and alums.”

As I mingled with a variety of professionals affiliated with SEMBA, I could feel the enthusiasm and excitement buzzing around the room. Not only is it fun for the students to get out of the classroom, but it is also a great opportunity for the advisors to connect with each other and learn from one another.

Rob Miller, VSECU
Rob Miller, VSECU

“I’m inspired by the purpose of the program,” says Robert Miller, President and CEO of Vermont State Employees Credit Union. “I get to learn from others with consistent values. SEMBA is good for both the people and the planet; this [program] takes the intersection of values to a whole new level. It is the opportunity for change of upcoming generations.”

While many SEMBA advisors are Vermonters, a number of them flew in from different parts of the country to meet with us. Antonio Ribeiro, Sales Operations Director for PepsiCo Americas Beverages – Latin America, left Miami to join the Advisory Board Meeting and bear the Vermont cold. When asked about his connection to the program, he explained that his motivation stems from the belief that SEMBA drives education for the future and represents a good example of what we should be demonstrating in the world. “What do I hope to see out of SEMBA? Every time I come I hope to see more and more thought provoking work,” says Ribeiro.

With the caliber of the people around to support the program, I have no doubt that as SEMBA students we are establishing the right connections and receiving the best training to be effective change agents after graduation.

Learn more about the SEMBA Advisory Board.