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Reunited as friends

October 24, 2018

An alumni weekend in Kiev and Sofia

Several Global Executive MBA graduates organized a weekend for their colleagues in their home cities, Kiev and Sofia: with new insights, views and many exchanges among friends.

Picture of 2 churches in Kiev and Sofia
Kiev & Sofia - 2 reunions in 2 cities on the same weekend. Photo © CC0 Licence

Some were in Kiev, others in Sofia: From October 12 to 14, 2018, two MBA reunions took place. The graduates of the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) class 2017-2018 came together in Sofia to meet each other for the first time after graduation. In Kiev, the previous group of GEMBA graduates met for the second time. Alumni organized both events on their own initiative.

The future begins in Kiev

Olena Khlon co-organized the 2017 class reunion in Kiev together with her MBA colleagues Wolfgang Gomernik and Alexander Savochkin. "We agreed last year that we would meet every year in a different city, the home of someone from the MBA program," she says, "but we are 45 alumni from 21 countries, so our reunions will continue to last 21 years at least," she laughs. Olena Khlon comes from the Ukraine, but is now Vienna-based.

Panorama picture of Kiev
The alumni met for the second time in Kiev. The idea is to meet in different countries over the following years.

"Most people associate Ukraine with the Crimean conflict, with war and corruption. This weekend, we wanted to show our colleagues what Kiev has to offer: on the one hand the variety of business opportunities, but also the cultural and architectural achievements," says Khlon.

And so the reunion took place under the motto "The Ukraine on its way to the future". Exciting guest speakers talked about the country's economic opportunities: Vladimir Yumashev, Partner at Deloitte Ukraine, reported on market entry opportunities, Max Yakover, CEO of UNIT.City Innovation Park - a co-working and innovation hub, gave insights into the startup and innovation scene in the country. Also, the alumni were given a guided tour through the UNIT-City area. The next day, Yuriy Kryvosheya, President of PSJC Toronto Tower Kyiv and co-founder of Yakaboo, the Ukrainian Amazon, chatted with alumni about the entrepreneurship scene in Ukraine.

Picture of a horse sculpture
During the alumni reunion there was enough time for sightseeing as well.

Besides professional exchange, there was also time for sightseeing, culture and partying that weekend. On Sunday, October 14, Ukraine celebrated its national holiday. Having fun with our MBA colleagues is important, says Olena Khlon: "We showed our colleagues the city and went to bars and clubs. Because apart from business networking, an important reason for the reunion was to see friends again. We have grown together very much as a group."

Group picture of the alumni
It is not all about networking, but also about growing together as a group.

You can find more pictures of the reunion in Kiev in our picture gallery.

Sofia close-up at the Oktoberfest

In Sofia, the MBA graduating class 2018 met in the urbane private business club "The Residence". Ivaylo Gospodinov, Managing Partner at BlackPeak Capital, one of the most successful investment funds in Southeastern Europe (SEE), gave tips for the successful development of companies in Bulgaria.

Picture of a sign of the club
In Sofia, the alumni met in the private business club "The Residence".

During the sightseeing tour, the participants could admire the medieval architecture of the church of Bojana from the 10th century, visit the 8000-year-old exhibitions in the National Museum of History and enjoy the local cuisine including a Bulgarian folklore show. On the last day, an Austrian Oktoberfest brunch spanned the cultural bridge between Austria and Bulgaria.

Group picture of the alumni
Besides sightseeing, there was also an Austrian Oktoberfest brunch, which spanned the cultural bridge between Austria and Bulgaria.

Martin Gikov, who had organized the GEMBA Reunion in Sofia together with Anita Kirilova, Stanimir Hristov and Emil Botusharov, says: "It was a blast. We have shared our experiences for the first time since we had graduated in June - not only professionally, but also personally."

As a surprise, Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, was connected to both reunion meetings by a video message. The dean expressed her thanks for the perfect organization of the two GEMBA reunions, which had been initiated by the graduates themselves. "We are very happy to have such enthusiastic MBA graduates. These special events help our alumni see everybody’s homeland in a new and different light and – most importantly - stay in touch with each other", says Barbara Stöttinger.

Olena Khlon is already looking forward to next year: The GEMBA Reunion 2019 will take place in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

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