Speaking from the Heart
Penny Metchev was born in Australia to Bulgarian parents. She watched her parents build the “Australian dream” creating a successful family business as first generation immigrants. This early exposure sparked her interest in business and pursuing lofty goals.
During her senior year in high school, Penny won the Sydney division of the Lion's Club Youth of the Year competition and consequently was invited to speak at the Australian Citizenship Ceremony. The youngest person ever to be a featured speaker at an Australian Citizenship Ceremony, Penny talked of her father’s immigration from Bulgaria to Australia and of his resolute escape from communism in the 1970s with only four dollars in his pocket. “My father told me that hearing his daughter speak about what it means to be Australian was the proudest moment of his life.”
Upon admission to Penn, Penny was selected to be a 2012 Penn World Scholar, an honor offered to a handful of international students each year for their global leadership potential. She was also granted a scholarship established by Wharton alumnus and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip D. Murphy and his family. Four years later, as a senior at Penn, she was selected as one of two featured speakers at the 2011 Fall Scholarship Reception where she spoke to 500 Penn donors and scholarship recipients. Penny shared once more the story of her family’s past living under the stringent rule of Communism, her father’s quest for freedom and, despite his dream to live in America, his ultimate emigration to Australia. Reflecting upon the four years of college and the opportunities she has received at Penn, she noted that while the story is her father’s, it would be she who writes the next chapter.
Penny values the inter-disciplinary nature of the Huntsman Program curriculum. “The Australian university system is like the British system,” Penny says, explaining that high school seniors must select a narrow academic path to follow as university undergraduates. “There is really no such thing as liberal arts,” she says. In her home, she says, “there was a strong hope that my area of study would be law or medicine.” But Penny always loved learning new languages at school, experiencing different cultures, as well as aquiring the operational knowledge required to work in the family's retail business. She applied to the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business since it offered the perfect confluence of all her interests.
Being accepted to the Huntsman Program, as the 2nd ever Australian, allowed Penny to focus on finance, advanced language training and liberal arts. As part of the Huntsman curriculum, Penny spent a semester abroad in Munich, Germany at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. While in Germany, she conducted research on the Holocaust in Bulgaria, which also formed the research topic of her Senior Thesis.
During her junior summer, Penny interned at UBS Bank in the securities division in Stamford, Connecticut – home to the world’s largest trading floor. During her time there, she had the privilege to introduce legendary investor and Wharton alumnus, Howard Marks, at the UBS Best & Brightest Speaker Event. In her sophomore summer, she interned at CNBC in Sydney, Australia.
After graduation in May 2012, Penny intends to remain in the United States, working at the Boston Consulting Group in Chicago. She is eager to join the BCG team and learn from its committed professionals.
Commitment Across the Board
One of the things that Penny will miss most about the Huntsman Program is the community of students with a diverse set of interests and passions. Her fellow peers have inspired her to devote her spare time to furthering the Penn community. Penny was the Wharton Chair of the 2012 Class Board for all four years and more recently one of the co-founders of the undergraduate Wharton Europe club. Previously she held positions as a regional editor in the student-run magazine International Business Review, President of Beyond the Bottom Line (a club promoting corporate responsibility) and Philanthropy Chair of Kappa Alpha Theta.
She has also been involved with the Wharton Management 100 program, first as a student and then as a Team Advisor for several teams. As a Management 240 Teaching Assistant under Professor Friedman, she helped develop the syllabus for the course and coached MGMT 100 TA’s on group dynamics and facilitation. “Oddly enough, teaching other students in an academic setting has enriched my own education. I have found that giving back to one’s community is the best way to learn and become a leader within it.”
As a Huntsman student, she values the potential for leadership and global impact offered throughout her four years at Penn.