Career Resources

Columbia College Dinner & Discussion Series


About the Columbia College Dinner & Discussion Series

Picture this: You and a few of your peers having an intimate conversation over dinner with a highly-accomplished alumnus from an industry of interest to you. A chance to have all of your burning questions answered without the pressure of a formal networking event.

The Center for Career Education, in collaboration with the Columbia College Alumni Association, presents the Columbia College Dinner & Discussion Series, where select Columbia College students have the opportunity to interact with Columbia College alumni from different industries in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. This is an ideal setting for students to learn the workings of the industries they are interested in to advance their career exploration.

This program is only open to current Columbia College students and will be limited to a group of 25 students. 

Check back for an updated listing of upcoming sessions, or visit our Events Calendar for complete listings.

Upcoming Columbia College Dinner & Discussion Speakers

March, 28, 2017: Entrepreneurship

Zach Houghton (CC'09)

Zach is the son of a travel-writing father and a wanderlust mother who met on a bus in Guatemala. He is the founder of Passion Passport, a startup which provides inspirational and purpose-driven travel storytelling, develops photo and video content, and designs experiential campaigns for brands and tourism boards. In his work at Passion Passport, Zach has collaborated on creative campaigns with global brands like Amtrak, Cathay Pacific, Adobe, Expedia and Hyatt.  

Zach attended Columbia University and received a Bachelor's degree in Economics with a specialization in foreign languages. In his travels, he has always sought to immerse himself through one of the five languages he speaks. Zach's personal photography work has been featured in international publications and media. 

REGISTER: CC students can register for this event in LionSHARE



Recent Columbia College Dinner & Discussion Speakers

March, 21, 2017: Law

Zila Acosta-Grimes

Join us to hear from Zila Accosta-Grimes (CC'11, CLS'15). Zila Acosta-Grimes grew up in New York City. In 2011 she joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst and joined the board of Columbia College Women, for which she chaired the Scholarship Committee and remains a member. Additionally, she is a member of Columbia College Young Alumni, for which she is president emeritus. In 2012, Acosta-Grimes enrolled in Columbia Law School and as a student represented it as a University senator. A Stone Scholar and an articles editor on the Columbia Law Review, Acosta-Grimes was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s assistant and worked at the Manhattan Times and at the MirRam Group. She also does pro bono immigration work and political fundraising in her free time. She lives with her husband, Brian Grimes CC’11, in New York City.

February 13, 2017: Entrepreneurship

Stephanie Nass (CC'13) developed her passion for entertaining when she was in high school in France. She earned her BA in Art History from Columbia College and a degree in professional culinary arts from the International Culinary Center. Today, Stephanie is known as Chefanie: a professional chef who brings her creative sense to the table. She has thousands of social media followers and shares entertaining tips with major brands from Vogue to Tory Burch. In 2014, she founded Victory Club, a supper club that hosts bi-monthly art-inspired meals all over the world, and following on this success, she launched Chefanie Sheets a pastry decorating supply company. She also consults for food businesses on social media content and strategy.



Stephanie Nass (CC'13)  


November 1, 2016: Marketing

Jenny Fernandez (CC '98) is a North America Marketing Director at Mondelēz International.  She is a highly experienced Marketing business leader with over 11 years of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) experience working on Core Marketing, Innovation, P&L management, and driving all phases of brand equity as well as identifying, developing and retaining high performing talent. Jenny has a strong track record of leading strategic business turnarounds in North America and Asia Pacific, while demonstrating her strengths in building global brands, driving innovation, and developing strategic plans to deliver results. Prior to joining Kraft, Jenny worked in management consulting at Accenture focusing on the Retail and Manufacturing industries with clients such as J. C. Penney, Nordstrom, Toys ‘R Us, Sara Lee Corp., Miller Brewing Co., Big Lots, Pepsi Bottling Group, and Staples. 

Jenny has undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Operations Research from Columbia University and her MBA from Kellogg-Northwestern.  She is a mentor, volunteer and active alumna.  She is originally from New York City and resides there today.

Jenny Fernandez (CC '98)


November 9, 2016: Non-Profit

Join us to hear from Jerelyn Rodriguez (CC'11), Co-Founder and CEO of the The Knowledge House. Rodriguez founded the organization in 2014. Previously, she coordinated STEM after-school programming at Beyond Z and was the Bronx Field Director for Reshma Saujani's 2013 campaign for New York City Public Advocate. In 2011, Jerelyn joined Students for Education Reform (SFER) as the National Program Director, organizing and coaching college students in 35 states to advocate for education reform. Prior to SFER, Jerelyn worked in the public school system, teaching and designing student programs. Jerelyn has recently spoken on panels at SXSW, the New York City Social Innovation Festival and NASA’s SpaceApps Challenge. She is on the leadership council for South Bronx Rising Together, a founding Datanaut at NASA, a fellow at Camelback Ventures, and has recently been honored as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in Education. Jerelyn has a degree in film studies from Columbia University.
 Jerelyn Rodriguez (CC'11)


November 15, 2016: Finance

Join us to hear from Oleg Ilichev (CC 04). Ilichev is the head of investments and business development for Argo Digital, a software development, innovation, and venture capital division of Argo Group, an international publicly traded insurance and reinsurance business. In his role, Oleg is responsible for sourcing and vetting internal and external product and venture investment opportunities in FinTech, as well as outside digital partnerships. Prior to this he was a Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the US Operations of Argo Group and before that a divisional CFO of Argo's Excess & Surplus Lines segment where he was part of a leadership team that repositioned that business over 3 years.  He joined Argo Group as a Director of Corporate Finance, responsible for global corporate finance and corporate development transactions and analysis, including internal financial analysis, add-on M&A activity, business development, and special projects for the CEO and CFO.

Prior to joining Argo Group, Oleg was at Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, a middle-market private equity firm, where he worked on a number of the fund’s growth capital investment opportunities, including coverage of Harbor Point Limited, and before that at Bear Stearns’ Financial Institutions Investment Banking group where he assisted with coverage of Argonaut Group, Argo Group’s predecessor company. 

In 2007, Oleg founded Five Boroughs Foundation of Photography, a non-profit focused on bringing photography education to youth worldwide. A few of his personal VC investments include The Meatball Shop and Storelli Sports. 

Oleg holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Columbia University, an MBA degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and has attended several executive education programs at Harvard Business School. 





Previous Columbia College Dinner & Discussion Speakers

Check out some of the alumni who have recently participated in the Columbia College Dinner & Discussion series:

  • Lisa Carnoy, Head of Global Capital Markets for Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Pei-Sze Cheng, Investigative Reporter at NBC 4 New York
  • Edmund Griffin, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University and Attending Psychiatrist at NY Presbyterian Hospital
  • Poppy Harlow, CNN Correspondent
  • Matt Hill, Senior Vice President of Global Sports and Entertainment Consulting at GMR Marketing
  • Robert Kolker, Contributing Editor at New York magazine and the New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls
  • Emeka Ofodile, Senior Director of Marketing at ESPN
  • Matthew Wang, Director and Deputy COO of Evercore’s investment banking business
  • Sheena Wright, President and CEO of United Way of New York City
  • Mischa Zabotin, Head of International Banking for Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc.