Originally from the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, Akmaral Omarova first came to this country as a student in a U.S. government-sponsored high school exchange program. She ended up living with a military family for a year in the deserts of New Mexico. “Neither my parents nor I had a means to pay for me to go to college, so my only ticket to higher education in America was a scholarship,” says Omarova. Saint Mary’s gave her that ticket, and she went on to major in business.
At Saint Mary’s, Omarova founded the Student Diversity Board (SDB) to encourage and educate the College community on issues of diversity. “I am very grateful to current and former students for keeping the SDB fire burning,” she says. During her senior year, she also sat on the Board of Trustees as student trustee. “It was an eye-opening experience for me,” she says. “I remember being amazed to see so many highly successful people working on one question—how can we best serve our students?”
Omarova fondly recalls her former business professors. “I defiantly use what they taught me,” she says, referring to both management practices and life lessons. Her career, she says, was influenced by Professor Mary Ann Merryman’s excitement about accounting and Professor Jill Vihtelic’s ability to make corporate finance so interesting. “They played big roles in my pursing a finance career in public accounting.”
After graduating in 2002, Omarova started the Transaction Advisory Services department at Ernst and Young in Kazakhstan. She was only 23 at the time. She is currently a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Moscow and works with the largest Russian companies in financial services, oil and gas, and metals. “My current project is in the Ukraine and I travel there every week,” she says. Omarova is also working on establishing a women’s initiative group at BCG Moscow. Her goal is to plan a program that caters specifically to the needs of women clients and employees. “After all,” she says, “I went to an all-women’s college!”
Omarova is currently applying to MBA programs in the U.S. and hopes to return to the States next year. “Of course I will come back to Saint Mary’s,” she says, “I would not miss an opportunity to enjoy our beautiful campus.”
—Amanda Goetz ‘08