2018 Best & Brightest: Kayvon Asemani, Wharton School

Kayvon Asemani

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

The best at making mistakes, the worst at being perfect, and average at being average.”

Fun fact about yourself: I love being competitive at sports that I’m not good at.  It makes the experience a lot more fun and it leads people to laugh at my lack of skill instead of taking the activity too seriously.

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

High School: Milton Hershey School

Major: Economics with a concentration in Management

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Organizational Behavior with Adam Grant

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities:

Financial Literacy Community Project, Head Teacher

  • Teach financial literacy at underserved Philadelphia high schools to help close the wealth gap in America’s poorest communities

Wharton Council, Member

  • Provide funding for clubs, recognize achievement, and plan activities for Wharton student body consisting of over 2,000 students

Wharton Cohorts, Freshman and Sophomore Representative

  • Planned activities within and across separate Wharton cohorts so that students could come together to foster a stronger community within the student body

Honors & Awards

Civic Scholar (15 students selected among student body consisting of 2,500 students, focuses on social justice awareness and practice)

Annexstad Leaders for Tomorrow Scholar (Scholarship awarded to students from humble beginnings, focused on developing leadership

Penn Impact Lab Fellow (Fellowship for students actively making or striving to make greater social impact through their entrepreneurial business ventures)

Turner Social Impact Society (Organization that recruits students interested in entering social impact throughout their careers)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Accenture Strategy, New York, NY, Summer Analyst

Viacom Media Networks, New York, NY, International Research Intern

Hershey Trust Company, Hershey, PA, Real Estate & Private Equity Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Facebook, Menlo Park, CA, Rotational Product Manager (RPM)

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I loved the way that it supported me in my own entrepreneurial endeavors.  At Wharton, you get a rigorous education of key business concepts such as finance, accounting, marketing, statistics, decision-making, etc.  In addition to providing the educational content, it also exposed us to the biggest names in each of those fields by having them teach us the concepts. Those professors are also available for office hours to provide guidance and mentorship. The school also recruits very driven and intelligent students, creating a very strong learning environment. Combining all of these together, one can get all the theoretical knowledge necessary to start their own business and understand how it all works in practice. That’s what I did with Kayvon Enterprises, my holding company that manages my music, clothing, and technology businesses. The school and environment provided me with the tools to get started, the playing ground to experiment with success and failure, and the constant opportunity to continue improving. My entrepreneurship was an extension of the classroom, and that’s why I learned so much.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…music theory. I make music and have been lucky enough to tour across the country and reach hundreds of thousands of streams online, but that has been largely a product of the skills I’ve learned in business school that have helped me grow my brand. If I wasn’t focusing so much on the business side of the music, I’d focus on the theory behind making the music so that I could convey my messaging more clearly and use the music to move people in deeper ways.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Many people think that doing good for business and doing well for the world can’t be done together. That doesn’t make sense to me.  Yes, there are corrupt individuals and organizations in business; those people are everywhere. But if the right people are in charge, they can use their businesses to drive positive scalable change in the world, and that’s exciting. That shouldn’t be a surprise.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? My proudest moment is actually something that I can’t take credit for, but that I take great pride in.  It’s when two of my mentees from my high school got into Penn.  I was so proud of them, and there’s a deep reason why. I went to the Milton Hershey School, a boarding school for underprivileged kids.  I’m an orphan. My father attempted to kill my mother when I was just 9 years old, leaving her in a vegetative state and making me an orphan to this day. Most people from my high school also have very traumatic backstories, and that background has permeating effects, making it very tough for students to bounce back.  I was the first student from my high school to make it to Wharton since 1975, and the first to make it to Penn in a very long time.  When I got in, it was a very big deal to everyone in my community, but I didn’t want to be the exception.  I didn’t want to be the only one to be able to achieve this feat from my background.  I didn’t want this to be an unlikely scenario.  All the kids with rough backgrounds like mine deserve a chance.

So after I got accepted, I made sure to mentor a lot of kids from my high school so that they can learn from my mistakes and use my success as a launch-pad for them to do even better.  Three years later, one of them got accepted into Wharton straight out of high school and the other transferred into Penn for her sophomore year.

Clearly, they earned this success on their own, and it’s never something I would take credit for.  They put the work in and they made it happen.  But I do take pride in the fact that achieving excellence is becoming a norm for people who come from rough backgrounds like mine, because it shows that we’re all worthy of a chance at success in this world.  Even though I was playing the mentor role, they’ve truly taught me so much over the years, and I’m just so proud of them.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? I would eliminate the curve.  There’s no reason for us to be competing over grades.  We’re in business school together – we should be working together.  A rigorous but collaborative learning process would make us learn the material better while also building community, and those factors should matter the most.

Which classmate do you most admire? I admire Emily Goldman.  She’s an incredible student, awesome leader of one of the organizations we’re in together, unbelievable support with job recruiting, and awesome friend.  She stays on top of her work while never losing track of her responsibilities as a leader, and she has helped so many people, including myself, have success in our recruiting processes.  Most importantly, she always has my back as a friend.  Despite how busy she is, she always makes time for me during my best and worst times, and all times in between.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d thank my mom.  I lost her when I was 9 years old, and before she was gone, I was the biggest momma’s boy.  She always believed that I could do great things in this life, and she was the one who taught me the importance of living to make the world a better place. Even though I lost her at such a young age, she’s always been a part of my life and she’s been my biggest inspiration. My positivity, energy, and compassion comes from her. I don’t know where I’d be without her influence in my life.

What would your theme song be? One of my own songs called “Rayz.”  It’s all about focusing on the journey and not the destination. It’s about loving one another and being there for each other.  That’s the story of my life.  I don’t care where I end up, as long as I helped the world around me become a better place along the way.

Link to the music video: Here

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Skydiving and scuba diving.

Favorite book: Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

Favorite movie: The Pursuit of Happyness

Favorite vacation spot: Dominican Republic

What are your hobbies? Making music, working out with friends, cooking, eating, watching sports

What made Kayvon such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“Kayvon’s story is inspiring. He has made a tremendous impact on the Wharton Undergraduate student body through his story, his music, his passion, and his genuine interest in helping others. He is one the most respected and inspiring students that I have worked with in my almost 20 years in higher education.

From the moment Kayvon stepped on campus to the current day, Kayvon strives to make a positive impact on his classmates, the School, and the community. He is well-regarded among his peers, the faculty, and staff and truly anyone that he meets. Kayvon was a student on two programs that I oversee, the Wharton International Program, a half-credit international course and the Wharton Industry Exploration Program, a half-credit domestic course focusing on a particular industry, and this case, the entertainment industry. In both of these classes, Kayvon was the ultimate ambassador for the School. He left a positive impression with everyone he came across during the two courses. Kayvon cares deeply about creating a lasting impact and he has accomplished this in his co-curricular involvement through the Wharton Council and our undergraduate cohort system. In both of these organizations, Kayvon has mentored countless students and had made every effort to improve the student community here. I am extremely proud of all of Kayvon’s accomplishments and I can’t wait to see his next chapter as an alumnus. He truly is one of our best and brightest.”

Lee Kramer
Director of Student Life
Wharton Undergraduate Division


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