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Summer Zhao

Summer Zhao

Vanderbilt Accelerator 2012

Senior Consultant at Navigant

Saving Trees through Chopsticks

Zhao invents eco-friendly utensils before summer at Owen

By most standards, Summer Zhao already had a jump-start on her business career even before completing the Accelerator program at Vanderbilt.

In her native China, she had received a patent for environmentally friendly disposable chopsticks that are sterilized by ozone and can be reused. And while at Washington University in St. Louis, she took a semester off to complete an internship in China with the Brookings Institution.

Yet even with this impressive head start, Summer, who has been accepted by two graduate schools and is pondering a consulting career, found Accelerator a valuable business boost.

In particular, Summer credits the program with helping improve her time management, teamwork, leadership, presentation and analytical abilities. “I actually thought I was very good at teamwork,” says the native of Tsientin, China, “but here I got to see the dynamics of how a team works and what it’s like to work with different people. I think my teamwork skills have definitely improved.

“Accelerator is a great place to challenge yourself. It’s a great place to dip into the water of the business world and explore what you want to do in the future. It’s a good support to test what you like or don’t like. It’s just a great place for you to launch your career.”