Wharton EMBA Alumna Talks about Value of Fellows Program

Even though Anastasia Pozdniakova wasn’t admitted the first time she applied to Wharton’s East Coast Executive MBA Program due to her of lack of work experience, she knew it would one day be the right program for her.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania as a Wharton undergraduate student in 2000, she had maintained close ties with the School.  So when she decided to pursue an MBA degree, she knew she wanted to return to Wharton. Pozdniakova also knew she wanted to attend the EMBA program rather than leave her job in New York for two years and move to Philadelphia to become a full-time student. However, the EMBA Admissions Committee didn’t feel she was ready to enter the program as a “Fellows” candidate  – someone with less than eight years of experience, but with outstanding promise for advancement in a managerial career.

“The feedback was that they were looking for something more in EMBA Fellows candidates and it was a tough applicant pool. I had to improve my GMAT score too,” she recalls.

She waited a year and reapplied. By then, she had been promoted from an associate at her firm, Fieldstone, to vice president. She also retook the GMAT and provided a list of the deals she worked on to show the type of experience and perspective she would bring to the classroom. “We advise companies who seek capital for opportunities in the power and infrastructure industries. I work with developers who have ideas to develop technologies or renewable power plants but don’t have the necessary capital, so they retain my firm to find the money so they can implement their ideas,” she says. “Some of the projects are very unique and will hopefully be the future of power generation in the U.S.”

It turned out that a year made a big difference and she was accepted in 2007 as a Fellow. The program was a “perfect fit,” says Pozdniakova. “I’ve learned a lot from my role models in my company, but I wanted another source of inspiration and knowledge. At Wharton, I met interesting students and faculty who inspired me to look at the world differently and apply new tools to my work without having to risk leaving my job for two years.”

Since graduating last May, she was promoted to managing director at her firm. “My MBA will be very valuable going forward because my firm is employee owned and we hope to grow, so what I learned at Wharton will help me not only in my work, but also to validate opportunities for my company in the future.”

Looking back, Pozdniakova says that it was definitely worth the time and effort it took to apply to Wharton’s EMBA Program twice. “It’s great that the Fellows program exists to allow those of us with fewer years of experience to have this incredible opportunity,” she says. “My life would have been very different without this program.”

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Wharton EMBA Fellows Mean Business

When You’re the First to Ask:  Fellows Student Kristin Burke’s Approach to Sponsorship