Ukrainian Business Leaders take San Diego!
They arrived in San Diego on an afternoon in mid-March. They were greeted by stereotypically perfect San Diego weather, sumptuous accommodation at the Westgate Hotel, and an itinerary packed with networking opportunities and entrepreneurial workshops. And, despite leaving behind loved ones, experiencing displacement, and grappling with the knowledge that their country has been fighting a baseless invasion for more than one year, they were ready to put in the work.
Who are they?
They are 17 representatives of the Ukrainian Business Leaders: Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UBL PIE) Professional Fellows Program.
Who are the Ukrainian Business Leaders?
Sponsored and funded by the U.S. Department of State, and supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education, the UBL PIE program “aims to empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesspersons from across Ukraine with the skills to develop innovative economic, policy, and business solutions”. Generally speaking, the program is structured as a month-long fellowship in the United States, where Ukrainian fellows are given the chance to work alongside their U.S. counterparts.
Participants in the UBL PIE program are leaders in their respective industries, committed to business, entrepreneurship, innovation, and development.
Due to covid-related complications, UBL PIE cohorts for the past several years have undergone virtual experiences. To augment the impact of their virtual fellowship, recent cohorts are participating in study-tour style experiences, visiting several cities in the U.S.; in this instance, Washington, D.C., Austin, and San Diego.
While in San Diego
We are so grateful for the opportunity to host Ukrainian Business Leaders in San Diego, and connect these international visionaries with our local community. Some highlights from the group’s itinerary while in San Diego include:
- A tour of Red Door Interactive, and presentation on emerging market trends with John Faris
- A visit to the Brink Small Business Development Center for an overview of their offerings, and a pitch presentation from one of their startups, Athletiverse
- A discussion with Mira Rubin and other representatives at House of Ukraine
- A workshop exploring design thinking strategies, and how to confront personal bias, with Briana Weisinger
- A pitch training session with Eric Gasser, to hone participant’s talents when approaching investors
… and much, much more!
Connecting with locals at the Global Social Hour
We faced a small hiccup in our plans to host a Global Social Hour in honor of our Ukrainian visitors. With just 48 hours to go until the event, due to weather conditions, we no longer had a venue. We were sorely tempted to declare that the universe was against us and cancel the event. Where were we going to find a new venue, and a suitable caterer, who would pander to our needs for a 100-person event – taking place in just two days?!
By some miracle, our friends at Hera Hub, Felena Hanson and Melissa Lee, stepped in and saved the day, offering the use of their incredible La Jolla co-working space. Additionally, SDDC Program Associate Adrianna Borja’s favorite plant-based restaurant, Veggie Grill, offered a catering turnaround time of just four hours. The event was salvaged!
Thank you to our members and invited guests for the last-minute pivot and event location. Despite the miserable weather and limited notice, we had a great turnout and a contagiously optimistic vibe in the air.
We host Global Social Hour events frequently throughout the year, usually as a chance for an incoming delegation to connect with the San Diego community. Attendance at these events is strictly limited, and only offered to San Diego Diplomacy Council members. If you’re interested in attending future events, we encourage you to become a member today through our pay-what-you-can membership system.
We are so grateful to our community partners for allowing us to gather and celebrate the Ukrainian Business Leaders. Not only are the fellows incredible global leaders cultivating the future of Ukrainian industries, they are living with the unfathomable burden of displacement and war. Most of the participants are not currently living in Ukraine, nor are their businesses able to operate. But they are showing incredible tenacity by not giving up on their county, or on their business. The Ukrainian Business Leaders see a future beyond the war, and came the United States to learn not just how to pick up where they left off, but to grow and become better than ever before.