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26 March 2024

In conversation with Xenia Rojdestvenskaya Nicastro : “The EMBA allowed me to grow academically, personally and professionally, forge connections, and opened new perspectives in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and in CSR.”

When discussing social responsibility and equality, three words come to mind in the business landscape today – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Policymakers, either government or private businesses, have all recognized the prevailing underrepresentation of women leaders. Many strides are ongoing to close the gender parity gaps across the board and the world in unison. Organizations reap the benefit of diverse perspectives and aptitude by eliminating systemic inequalities by reforming their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies, Human resource directives, and brand identity.
To underline these areas with a more refreshed perspective, we engaged with one of our associate Alumni, Xenia Rojdestvenskaya Nicastro. She had achieved great markers of success in and outside of UNIGE while advancing in her EMBA program. Xenia, with a clear sense of achievement in all her paths in life, gives us a stirring insight into her journey.

Charting Towards Knowledge and Connectivity
After progressing eight years into her career, Xenia followed her path towards a strong desire to continue learning, pursuing an Executive MBA (EMBA) degree with the University of Geneva (UNIGE). She started her career in Demand Management, and Sales and Operations Planning but lacked connectivity with her original academic background in Economic and Social History, and International Relations. She was therefore striving to better understand the corporate world through Marketing, Human Resources, Accounting, Sales, Supply Chain Management, Finance and Strategy. Xenia’s prior successful undergraduate and postgraduate experience at the University of Geneva, convenience of access and a good cost/benefit ratio made it easy for Xenia to choose UNIGE. 

Transformation through the EMBA Experience
The experience of the EMBA program was academically rewarding for Xenia, providing her insights into diverse fields that spanned her understanding quite invaluably. Xenia expressed, From an academic perspective it was fantastic. We had great professors teaching in the EMBA program and it allowed us to get a good understanding of HR, Marketing, Strategy, Finance, you name it. I reached several personal goals at that point of my life thanks to this program: learning, getting a theoretical framework of how one runs a business, understanding whether I wanted to pursue my career in a different direction or stay in Supply Chain Management.” She added, “However, I consider that the most important thing that I have gotten from the EMBA is the connections to people: a couple of teachers I’m still in touch with, but mostly other students who shared the struggles, late night group assignments, tight deadlines, no proper vacations for two years, juggling work, family and the program.”

Steering Empowerment and Advocacy
Despite structural challenges faced by women, and working mothers in particular, in Western societies, Xenia never left sight of her career trajectory. Xenia discussed the need for representation by expressing, Women in various spheres, mainly in leadership and decision-making roles have been recognized to be underrepresented due to inequality and fair opportunities.
Her ambition sparked the founding of The Sorority Network, a Geneva not-for-profit organization focusing on empowering and supporting women through networking to encourage gender equity. Set up in the Geneva-lake area during her EMBA to respond to active women’s growing need to connect, support one-another, learn and share, the organization grew to more than 130 members, and organized a great variety of free workshops and events to allow its members to shine beyond their normal professional and personal circles.

The EMBA and its Impact on Business and Society
At a pivotal point, the EMBA for Xenia was the catalyst that forged her understanding of business compartmentalization, spurred her professional and personal growth, expanded her network, and stimulated a desire to help building a more gender-equal and sustainable future. She illuminated, “the EMBA allowed me to grow academically, personally and professionally, forge connections, and opened new perspectives in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and in CSR”. Xenia expanded,in addition to having created “The Sorority Network” and running its operations, I began volunteering in local charities and undertook Caterpillar Geneva Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Resource Group’s Presidency leadership role, leveraged my network, and built on synergies to bring forward positive change in the community.


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