Three Alumni On Working During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Three Alumni On Working During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Since the coronavirus pandemic has affected all of our lives, we reached out to three of our alumni to hear how they have adapted their work and how their years at Columbia College Chicago set them up for success.

Andrei Akimov

Degree: Master of Arts Management, 2019

Position: Co-founder of Amba Presents and Events Planner at Howard Brown Health

How have you had to shift your work during the coronavirus pandemic and how did your CCC education prepare you for the challenge?

Right after my graduation, my friend and I founded our own company Amba Presents (a live entertainment and events production company). We successfully produced our first big show in Chicago at the end of 2019, and had grand plans for 2020. I knew that 2020 will be my year and everything should lay out perfectly (what a naïve boy!). While we were working on Amba Presents plans, I was looking for a full-time job. After a few months of constant searching, I was offered a full-time Events Planner position at Howard Brown Health (the largest Midwest LGBTQ Health clinic) at the end of February. I was so happy – what a beautiful way to start a new year. A few weeks later, I was offered a volunteer opportunity as a Stage Manager with BAHHHS camp (one of the biggest LGBTQ camps) at Burning Man 2020. Yes, 2020 is definitely my year!

And then March arrived… I’m not going to add some drama here, you all know what happened. Putting on hold and rescheduling all upcoming shows, starting a new job as Events Planner when all events are cancelling, but not planning. A stay-at-home order obviously wasn’t helpful in getting to know my new colleagues. To say I was stressed out – says it all.  A few weeks later, once the panic stage passed and the nostalgia stage for “old good times” hadn’t arrived yet, I started to realize that all these challenges are here for a reason. It’s time not to take what you have for granted. It’s time not to be afraid. It’s time to start thinking out of the box. It’s time to move forward. A few months later I added to my experience list – virtual events in partnership with Census 2020, a huge virtual two-day Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium, online workshops with a Cirque du Soleil artist for kids, Amba Cares Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary clean-up, and many more virtual events are actively being planned right now, and of course many more in-person events for 2021 are in process as well. Columbia prepared me for one important thing – BELIEVE in yourself – without it, it’s hard to adapt to changes and move forward. 2020 is a beautiful year! 2020 is the year of my personal and professional growth!


Quinton Fairbourn

Degree: Bachelor of Arts Management, 2019

Position: Procurement Specialist, Abbott Laboratories

How have you had to shift your work during the coronavirus pandemic and how did your CCC education prepare you for the challenge?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, I can honestly say I haven’t had a normal day. Around January, Abbott Laboratories began preparing itself in the event that the pandemic would not be contained. As the situation evolved, we recognized the enormous task ahead of us to insure the continuity of business and production. For me, this meant a shift in my duties. In February, senior leadership removed me from my position negotiating global marketing contracts and tasked me with leading sourcing all types of PPE to support our employees and sites globally. The road was daunting, and early on I came to understand that failure to deliver was not an option. Between February and July, I successfully sourced millions of respirators, gloves, protective suiting, and all other forms of PPE. I was given the opportunity to negotiate with suppliers, work with teams across the organization and globe to insure material availability, and develop new partnerships. I even acted as a proxy for a foreign government to broker their national supply of PPE. The confidence boost of being given so much responsibility and delivering is indescribable.

In July, I received a call to move with one weeks notice to Portland, Maine to support the launch and production ramp-up of Abbott’s flagship IDNow and BINAXNow Covid-19 tests. During my three month assignment, I was responsible for sourcing material and managing key supplier relationships, as well as being the ‘eyes and ears’ for my bosses back in Chicago. Abbott received FDA approval for both tests and is on track to produce in excess of fifty million tests per month. I am extremely proud of the work I did and that I was able to contribute to the success of a product the world so desperately needs right now.

Although supply chain management was not my major at Columbia, I was well prepared to tackle the challenges I’ve faced in the past 14 months at Abbott. My incredible instructors instilled a strong foundational business acumen that I have been able to build upon. My exposure to finance, Excel, and contract law are key areas of focus I am required to tap into daily. The curriculum’s emphasis on collaboration and problem solving instilled the confidence in me that I am capable of overcoming any obstacle put before me. I am extremely grateful for my education and the time I spent at Columbia.


Rorie Raimondi

Degree: Bachelor of Arts Management, 2017

Position: Marketing Manager and Content Creator

How have you had to shift your work during the coronavirus pandemic and how did your CCC education prepare you for the challenge?

During the recent pandemic, I had to relearn prioritizing in my job and personal life. Designating time blocks for projects was also super helpful since I couldn’t utilize in office collaboration from my teammates. Columbia taught me a lot about self motivation. If you wanted to learn something or attain a new goal, there were always professors or advisors to point you in the right direction but you had to have the grit to realize and execute your goals.