Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

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Alumna leads through service

Alumna leads through service

Iliana Alvarenga in South Africa on a volunteer trip with UNICEF.

By Monica Sather | Student reporter

At Loyola, alumna Iliana Alvarenga (BBA '14, BA '14) honed her business skills—and found a passion for giving back at the global level.

Here, Alvarenga discusses her career advancement since graduation, her volunteer work with the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and how Quinlan has prepared her for her professional and volunteer work. 

Tell me about your new position.

I just accepted a new job opportunity at JPMorgan Chase, an investment bank and financial services company, where I am a competitive intelligence senior associate. I focus on supporting the business in understanding emerging consumer behavior trends, the changing payments landscape, digital and mobile initiatives in financial services, and new developments in financial technology.

Before that, I was a trends analyst for North America for Mintel, a market intelligence agency. I did consumer behavior research, and I was constantly monitoring what was happening across all categories, from health and consumer packaged goods (CPG) to financial services and technology.

My role at Mintel certainly prepared me for my new position at JP Morgan Chase. I look forward to taking my professional experience to the next level.

Tell me about your volunteering with UNICEF.

I’m the Chicago chair of UNICEF's Next Generation initiative. UNICEF is the largest humanitarian organization in the world. It works to protect and save children in over 190 different countries. The Next Generation initiative that I’m a part of brings together young professionals across the world to further UNICEF’s efforts, whether that’s through fundraising, advocacy, or community engagement.

I got started with UNICEF as a freshman at Loyola. When I was a senior, I was part of the UNICEF National Council, which is where you serve as a liaison with UNICEF USA in New York and manage different campus clubs across the nation.

Then, this year, I went to South Africa with UNICEF with a team of eight to experience UNICEF's work on the ground. UNICEF South Africa wanted to talk with my Next Generation colleagues and me about how they can leverage technology to help with programs to stop illness through increased handwashing, help girls excel in STEM-based careers, and more. They asked for our insight with different technologies that we use in the U.S., and how that could apply to their different programing.

The best thing about UNICEF is that even as a volunteer, you feel like you are a part of the organization. There are so many different projects and things to be working on.

How has Quinlan helped prepare you for your work?

When you’re a student at Loyola, you always hear that the education is based on service and service leadership, which I think is at the heart of my work for UNICEF. It was at Loyola that I strengthened my love for giving back.

I remember that in every Quinlan class, there was always this real-world aspect. I truly felt that every professor, instead of just going by the textbook, took a step back and helped us understand how what they were teaching us was going to impact us in our learning outside of the classroom.

There are so many different projects and presentations that I did in my time at Loyola that I still like to reference or think back on, and apply some of those concepts to what I am doing now.

For me, Quinlan strengthened a foundation of being strategic, but also encouraged us to always keep in mind what’s good for our communities.