Alumni Spotlight: Irina Yakubenko

Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Irina Yakubenko (CWR’14, Political Science)

Irina Yakubenko is currently Senior Manager of Strategic Planning with luxury jewelry and watchmaker Cartier. In this role, she guides the direction and brand strategy of Cartier North America’s marketing and communications and leads major product and client-oriented initiatives.

Prior to her work at Cartier, Yakubenko served as Head of Brand and Social at IBM Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) where she was the youngest member of the EMEA Marketing leadership team. She began her decade-long career with IBM as an information developer, writing technical documentation with fortune 500 banks.  She later joined the marketing team and served as the communications lead for the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Her marketing work has been published in various press publications.  She has received three Chief Marketing Officer Awards from Adweek for demonstrable impact to IBM, in addition to external press.

Irina studied Political Science and Marketing while at CWRU. After graduation, she was awarded the Eva L. Pancoast Memorial Fellowship to study political culture at the National University of Kyiv.

Spartan Sweethearts

Irina Yakubenko (CWR ‘14) and Scho Wolers (CWR ‘15) met in Clark Hall on the first day of the fall semester in 2010. “I was immediately blown away by his confidence, charm and intelligence and his unique international background and education,” Irina remembers fondly. “We became fast friends, making a habit of dining in Leutner [Commons] together for post-class breakfast.”

Still friends, the two wouldn’t begin dating until junior year as they finished their degrees in political science. Several years later, and after a move to New York, the couple returned to Cleveland to attend a wedding. While in town, they took an afternoon to visit campus and share memories. It was there, back at Clark Hall, with a large vase of flowers in the doorway, that Scho dropped to one knee and proposed.

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