Student Spotlight: Martha Czernuszenko and her experience at Forbes Under 30 Summit

Martha Czernuszenko Headshot

Martha Czernuszenko

Today we feature a student who displays all the characteristics of a mover and a shaker. Well on her way to be one of tomorrow’s leaders and now a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, Canfield BHPeer Martha Czernuszenko talks to us about her experience at the Forbes Under 30 Summit last October in Detroit. The Forbes Under 30 Scholars Program joins the best young leaders, founders, and creators to connect, learn, teach and build – a life-changing professional experience for any student selected to attend and participate.


Read on to learn about her experience and how to apply.

Tell us about your experience, the events that led up to it and after. Did you learn anything from it? What can others do to strive towards this opportunity?

If you’ve had a class with me, chances are you’ve seen me lugging a suitcase into the room. The McCombs School of Business is filled with amazing opportunities such as Texas Convergent (UT’s first Business and Computer Science organization) and a case-based/project curriculum. However, I’ve always wondered how various concepts I’ve learned at The University of Texas could be applied outside of the Forty Acres, and that led me to apply to the Forbes 30 Under 30 program.

Martha posing for a photo with her colleaguesI applied in Summer 2019 through an online application. A month later, I was accepted. Although the scholar program covered some expenses, this trip would not have been possible without the Canfield Business Honors Program sponsoring the rest of my trip. 

While I expected the conference to be very corporate and standardized, it turned out to be more of a “Choose your own adventure!” experience. There were various content tracks to select from AgTech, Artificial Intelligence, Art & Style, Cannabis Capitalism, Cloud & CyberSecurity, CMO Next, Finance & Investing, Fintech & Blockchain, Food & Drink, Gaming, Impact, Innovation, Law & Policy, Manufacturing & Robotics, Media & Environment, Mobility, Retail, Science & Healthcare, Sports, Founders’ Forum, and Women & Wellness. There were also plenty of activities outside of the conference talks such as company experiences, food festivals, investor speed-pitching, self-driving car showcases. 

Some highlights:

  • Serena Williams telling me to never share my money with any man (opting for separate accounts versus joint accounts during a marriage)
  • Reuniting with a few of my coworkers and other conference friends 
  • Meeting so many people across the United States
  • Learning about Olivia Munn’s investing strategies and later meeting her at the food festival
  • Hearing from the founders of products I’ve used (Postmates, Squarespace, etc.)
  • Listening to founders of iconic brands such as Postmates, Squarespace, and Museum of Ice Cream – YES Maryellis Bunn!!!)
  • Meeting Detroit locals and entrepreneurs at the official bar crawl with Nicole (Plan II, Business Honors, and Management’20) and Pooja (Bioengineering’20)
  • Exploring Startup Simulation Fair and talking with founders from Braxley Bands to VX Tours in Nepal
  • Accidently venturing into a VIP lounge and eating very fancy chocolate with Pooja and Luca (Electrical Engineering ‘20)
  • Exploring the city and its rooftops
  • Analyzing pitches from top startups pitching for thousands of dollars
  • Enjoying a free concert by Normani, 21 Savage, and The Chainsmokers 
  • The autumn leaves that changed colors daily on our walk to the conference
  • Trying out fig tarts at a local bakery after a food keynote speech with Antoni Porowski

Photo of panel at Forbes Under 30 Summit via Martha CzernuszenkoWhile I learned many lessons and heard inspirational advice, two things stood out. First, the concept that changing minds is a lot harder than building technology. Although my studies are combined between technical and soft classes, I found this concept intriguing as it is often skimmed over. Second, develop non-negotiables while you raise money – if your morals are being broken during raising rounds, your morals aren’t working. Apply this framework in your personal and professional life as well. While I expected to mostly focus on concepts like these during the conference, it was also refreshing to take a personalized path through the conference to attend workshops on topics I have never dived into, such as sustainability and transportation.

A huge thank you again to the Canfield Business Honors Program!!! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! You can apply to attend next year’s program typically in June/July 2020!

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