As I look back at my takeaways from the International Achievement Summit I attended in 2005 in New York City, I am reminded what a remarkable four days those were. I have attended numerous global summits and conferences since then, but it was only during the International Achievement Summit that I felt so inspired — by my peers, and by the incredibly approachable leaders and luminaries who took part in the Summit that year.
I owe a great deal of my career journey to the Academy. In a fortuitous turn of events, at a luncheon hosted by Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, I found myself seated next to Margery Kraus, the Founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, a global public affairs, communication and business strategy consulting firm. At that time, I was halfway through my Master’s studies at Georgetown and was familiar with APCO from my internship search. Apparently, she had looked at my résumé earlier and became interested in my Russian-Israeli background, given APCO’s extensive work in Russia, and coincidentally, the opening of its Israeli office that very month.
Following that encounter, I joined APCO’s D.C. headquarters as an intern in my second year of my MSFS studies. I have now been with the company for over eight years. Many observers point to the millennial generation’s restlessness, and suggest that we feel the need to switch jobs every two-to-three years. I feel very lucky at APCO, to have had four different jobs that have taken me around the world and back. At present, I am a Vice President and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the office of the CEO, managing our partnerships with leading international organizations and overseeing a number of global projects for the firm.
The last eight years have been a roller-coaster for me, taking me to almost every one of APCO’s 33 offices in 29 countries, from negotiations in Kazakhstan, to a Deputy Prime Minister’s office in Vietnam, to meetings with some of the world’s most fascinating entrepreneurs and philanthropists, to attending eight Davos conferences, and much more. After my internship, I joined full-time as a special assistant to APCO’s founder and CEO, focusing on global business development, strategic partnerships and a number of special projects. I prepared the CEO’s trips to more than a dozen markets, working closely with the senior management of the company and with APCO’s diverse global team of over 650 consultants. I have had the opportunity to participate in negotiations, and to witness strategy development at the highest decision-making level.
After four-and-a-half years in that position, I was offered an exciting new opportunity with the company — to move to Shanghai and manage a number of our projects in the region, including initiatives around Shanghai World Expo 2010. I have always had a special interest in China (I have studied Mandarin since my undergraduate studies), so I jumped on an opportunity to work in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. In Shanghai, I managed a number of teams and projects, working with fascinating clients: Chinese corporations that were rapidly expanding overseas, and multinational firms seeking to succeed in China. My clients included the world’s second largest telecom company, an emerging market sovereign wealth fund, the world’s leading design and innovation company, and many others.
After a two-year stint in China, I returned to the U.S., and have been promoted to a VP position, leading a number of external initiatives and partnerships for the firm, expanding our work with the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative, and managing a number of global client projects.
When I started my graduate degree at Georgetown, my dream was to become a diplomat. During the International Achievement Summit, I saw a variety of impactful career paths with one common denominator – striving to make our world a better place. I have carried that motivation throughout the years, and was fortunate to have a career in business diplomacy, working with governments, private sector firms, foundations and non-profits on some of the core issues on the global agenda today – from water and food security, to renewable energy, to human rights and development.
I want to wish the Academy a very happy 50th Anniversary! You are doing truly amazing work that has touched and inspired so many of us!
I would love to stay in touch – follow me on Twitter @atunkel