ASU Thunderbird graduate aims to empower communities for more democratic world

Victor Oleynik will graduate this spring with a Master of Global Management with a concentration in Global Digital Transformation from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

Victor Oleynik is the recipient of the Barton Kyle Yount Graduate Student Award, Thunderbird’s highest student honor.


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Victor Oleynik has always been passionate about international business and politics, which led him to study at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Originally from Ukraine but having spent most of his life in Moscow, Oleynik knew that he needed to broaden his perspective and build cross-border connections through a degree program that would equip him with a global mindset.

After completing his undergraduate degree in business with a specialization in global politics from the W. P. Carey School of Business, Oleynik chose to pursue a Master of Global Management (MGM) specializing in global digital transformation from Thunderbird.

"Thunderbird was an obvious choice for me. The school's reputation for attracting students from all over the world and its emphasis on cross-cultural understanding and international business made it the perfect fit for my goals and aspirations," said Oleynik, a recipient of Thunderbird’s Dean's Circle Award. "Thunderbird helps foster a sense of community and belonging among students from diverse backgrounds and prepares us to be effective global leaders who can navigate the complexities of an interconnected world."

With a focus on international trade, digital transformation and global political economy, Oleynik plans to pursue a career in international politics and business after graduation. Currently, he is the co-chair of Astraea, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting civil society in northern Eurasia. Oleynik's ultimate goal is to expand the reach of Astraea and advance the culture of the rule of law in the region, which is vital for regional, global, political and economic security.

Oleynik believes that investing in organizations and institutions that promote critical thinking, media literacy and civil resources can enable individuals and communities to resist these threats to free speech and democratic values.

"By empowering individuals and communities to speak out and engage in meaningful dialogue, we can help build a world that is more tolerant, compassionate and democratic," he said.

Oleynik is also the recipient of the spring 2023 Barton Kyle Yount Graduate Student Award, Thunderbird’s highest student honor.

Question: What do you like about being a T-bird?

Answer: I was struck by the curiosity and openness that Thunderbird students bring to the table. Whether it's through participating in cultural festivals, attending guest lectures or simply engaging in conversations with classmates from around the world, T-birds are always eager to learn about other cultures and share their own experiences. This willingness to engage with different perspectives and embrace new ideas is truly unique, and it is what makes Thunderbird such a special place.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at Thunderbird?

A: I am thankful to numerous professors who have imparted crucial lessons and knowledge to me, but I would like to give special recognition to Professor Euvin Naidoo and Professor Kannan Ramaswamy for teaching me about the significance of asking the right questions and thoroughly examining the fundamental reasons behind problems. 

Q: What advice would you give to a student just starting a program at Thunderbird?

A: What costs you a small effort during school years will turn into a heavy lift down the road. It is important to set priorities and maintain discipline and consistency. Explore the resources you have access to early and take advantage. Take as many calculated risks as you can, and fail fast. Build your own authentic journey, and do not try to copy someone else's. 

Q: For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

A: I am grateful for my parents. While we cannot meet for extended periods of time, they do everything to support and show their love to me. I am grateful to the people of Arizona State University, specifically the Educational Outreach and Student Services teams and the Luminosity Lab, for their help and guidance. I am incredibly grateful to President Michael Crow, Dr. James Rund and Mark Naufel. Without their support, I would not have had the opportunity to realize my full potential. Furthermore, I am grateful for the support and guidance of my friends and mentors, including Anne and Terry Guerrant, who have always been there to share their knowledge and wisdom with me. I am grateful to the faculty and staff who have supported me throughout my time at Thunderbird and helped me develop my leadership skills.

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