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A worldly traveler sharpens his global edge

When Alex Shnaydruk enrolled in Lehigh’s Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry in 2007, he had already started up a high-tech consulting business.

He had also acquired a strong education in physics and computer science in his home country of Moldova in Eastern Europe.

But Global Village, a summer program that attracts students from dozens of countries, “taught me so much that I didn’t know,” he says.

It also put him on the path to where he is today.

After attending Global Village, Shnaydruk traveled to Ukraine and worked for a venture capital fund and several high-tech start-ups. Then he earned a scholarship to return to Lehigh to study for an MBA while working for the Small Business Development Center.

Last month, he started a job with NovaTech, a global company based in Quakertown, Pa., that designs and manufactures power measurement, utilities communication, and industrial automation equipment.

An international ice-breaker

Global Village (GV), a five-week summer program operated by Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute, teaches entrepreneurial and leadership skills to more than 100 students each year while preparing them to thrive in a global community. This year’s program launched in late June and will come to a conclusion on July 27.

“GV puts everyone together in one melting pot,” says Shnaydruk, who speaks four languages. “It’s a great way to see how countries can work together and learn the nuances of different cultures when it comes to global business,”

The program also provides a snapshot of the current global business culture and seeks to build bridges between nations through business collaboration, says Mary Frances Schurtz-Leon, candidate manager for the GV.

“In 2001, the Israelis and Arabs refused to sit on the same stage or even have their flags displayed at the same time during the country presentations,” says Schurtz-Leon.

“This year, the Palestinian and Israeli students asked to present together—it was amazing.”

GV interns are typically between 20 and 40 years of age. In one GV activity, the Business Consulting Project, interns form teams and tackle a problem for an actual business.

Shnaydruk worked on the project with students from the United States, Germany, Canada, Portugal and Turkmenistan. “We helped a chemical company with a local branch promote their product internationally and improve marketing communications,” he says.

Mutual benefits

Immediately after GV, Shnaydruk flew to Ukraine. The country would be hit a year later by a financial crisis, but Shaydruk managed to survive the downturn, and he took a start-up company from 30 to 70 people while making business connections all over the world.

Despite his success, Shnaydruk felt he lacked something important—an MBA. He applied to schools all over the United States, including Lehigh, and he was granted the Global Village MBA scholarship in 2011.

The scholarship provides a GV alumnus with full tuition to the Lehigh MBA program, says Cora Landis, director of the international trade program for Lehigh’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“As part of the program, the student spends about 20 hours a week working in Lehigh’s SBDC,” says Landis, “meeting with clients, consulting and helping companies break into new markets.

“The student also has the opportunity to collaborate with other MBA students who are working as business analysts at the SBDC.”

Shnaydruk, says Schurtz-Leon, exemplifies the global business experience, multicultural understanding, intellectual maturity and professionalism that GV alumni bring to Lehigh’s MBA program.

Andrew Ward, associate dean of the MBA program, said the presence of GV students in MBA classrooms benefits both the Global Villagers and the traditional MBA students.

“We selected Alex because of his experience living and working in several different countries and starting his own business,” says Ward.

“But what has been even greater about Alex is his willingness to be involved in all aspects of the program and to share his experiences with other students.”

“Build a strong case for yourself”

Shnaydruk recently spoke to current GV interns, telling them, “if getting an MBA is your goal, and it is a good goal, you have to start working toward it now—start studying for your GMATs and building a strong case for yourself.”

Shnaydruk recalls a valuable lesson he learned in one of his first MBA classes.

“The distance between countries does not equal the ease with which they do business,” he says. “Australia is far away, but culturally, and with the free trade agreement, it is very close.”

Shnaydruk hopes to help bridge the distance between countries in his new position as international engineering manager at NovaTech. His role is to help the company be more strategic and aggressive in its international efforts.

Shnaydruk says he and his wife like the Lehigh Valley, but he’s been bitten by the international bug, and he’s willing and eager to go anywhere NovaTech and his career take him.

He’s been with NovaTech only a little over a month, but already he’s traveled to Guatemala and has plans to go to Europe, Australia, South Africa and Brazil by the end of the year.

“It’s all happening really fast,” he says.
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The Global Village MBA scholarship enabled Alex Shnaydruk ’13G to earn a graduate degree from Lehigh while working for the Small Business Development Center.
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