CEO & Co-Founder
Steven, an energetic, slightly over-caffeinated American who moved to Cape Town in 2002 with his South African wife and Russian cat, launched Connect-123 in South Africa after ten years of starting and running various businesses in Moscow, London and San Francisco.
While working in finance and venture capital in Cape Town, Steven realized that thousands of local organizations could use the help of skilled, international students and that thousands of students and professionals could benefit from real, hands-on, international work experience. Together with Lea, he developed Connect-123’s experiential learning programs to help students build their international work experience while simultaneously earning university credit. Steven, who now lives in Barcelona, holds a BA in Political Science from Cornell University and an MBA from London Business School.
Program Director & Co-founder
Lea, who studied Fine Arts at the University of Stellenbosch, started her career as a game lodge manager in the Sabi Sands. After being offered an internship in Moscow with a top PR and communications consulting firm, she packed her winter coat and ended up working in Russia for three years with top international FMCG brands. During this time of newfound capitalism and opportunity, she also discovered her skills as a networker! However, her love for South Africa led her home, where she worked in marketing, advertising, and trend forecasting, prior to co-founding Connect-123. Lea, who has a natural ability to understand and match organizations’ needs with applicants’ skills, is based in Barcelona.
Born and bred porteña (from Buenos Aires, Argentina), Anahí has studied many things in her academic career: English, Psychology, Literature, and Communications. She was so curious to learn about people and cultures that she traveled around South America, New Zealand, and China. Thinking that that was a great model for personal discovery and growth, she decided to help other people do the same.
Now she’s been working for study and work abroad programs for over 10 years, in both large organizations and with different universities. She has helped many students fulfill their dreams by being their trusted advisor, tour guide, program coordinator and/or support person. She knows well that each student is unique and tries her best to help them achieve their goals.
Recently she realized that there’s a bit of a hobbit in her so she moved to New Zealand to always have a second breakfast with no shame. From there she’s coordinating Buenos Aires and Sydney sites.
Program Coordinator, South Africa
Carla graduated with a Diploma in Events Management. She has always loved putting a smile on people’s faces and making a positive difference in their lives. She previously worked for Woolworths Educational Programmes, where she helped educate learners at schools and residents of multiple communities on healthy living and the environment. She hopes to further make a difference at Connect-123, where she assists in helping others pursue their passions. She hasn’t yet traveled, but aims to visit Thailand soon!
Program Coordinator, South Africa
Kate is no stranger to international internships and studying abroad. After submitting her Honours thesis in French socio-linguistics and literature in 2003, she completed a program abroad in Reunion, where she learnt a lot about litchis, island-style living and French. She returned home with two degrees – one in journalism and one in French – and decided on a career in media. Fast-forward some 15 years later and Kate has enjoyed a few career highlights: She’s edited a number of consumer and trade magazine titles, she’s worked with some of the most influential international brands looking to save the planet, and she’s run a full-house digital marketing agency in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Today Kate works as Program Coordinator and Marketing Manager for Connect-123 in Cape Town, which means she gets to share great stories about the excellent work we do every day.
Program Coordinator, China
Kailin loves traveling and exploring Asia’s diverse cultures. While studying at the College of the Holy Cross, she spent a year living in Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming, where she became fluent in Mandarin Chinese, worked in migrant schools, and participated in self-designed immersion trips to China’s ethnic minority communities. After graduating with a degree in international relations and Chinese studies, she returned to China to participate in a research program in Harbin aimed at the relationship between ethical tourism, culture preservation, and China’s ethnic minorities. She later earned her graduate certificate from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American studies in Nanjing, China and worked in a rural Bai ethnic minority village near Dali, Yunnan. Going on her fourth year in China, Kailin continues to explore China’s provinces and neighboring Asian countries and is actively involved in Shanghai and Nanjing’s communities through participating in numerous running groups, co-organizing a women’s group in Nanjing, writing for a domestic violence aid program, and fostering rescued animals. Through Connect-123, she’s excited to help students experience unique opportunities in China that she was able to experience as a student herself.
Lisa studied Marketing Management and has spent the last 10 years in the Project Management field. While this has been her main focus, her love for the outdoors and community upliftment led her to work on nature reserves in South Africa and orphanages in Lesotho in her spare time. With a passion for travel, she has visited countries across Europe like Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK to name a few. And let’s not forget that wedding she ventured off to in Mexico. After spending a very cold winter in Berlin for 3 months, the sunshine, beaches, and Table Mountain called her back to Cape Town where she is now based. Knowing the challenges that come with traveling overseas, particularly alone, she decided to use her passion for helping others combined with her previous work experience to apply for a position at Connect-123 where she can give back and make a difference.
Macarena (Maca) realized the impact of international experience on professional development after attending an English language training program in New York City. Being able to follow her chosen career path, while getting an opportunity to meet new people from different cultures at the same time, is what motivated her the most during her time abroad.
After developing an interest in international organizations, gender studies, culture, and economic development, Macarena won a scholarship to study abroad in Europe, where she chose the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain. In the old continent, she discovered her passion for art history and is currently obsessed with avant-garde art movements.
She is in her final year at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, where she is about to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences with orientation in Communication Planning and Policies.
Maca was born and raised in Buenos Aires, and having been a foreign student herself, she is more than happy to help Connect-123 interns with their own experience working abroad in Argentina.
Marianna was born with a travel bug in her genes and considers herself a Greek explorer. She started exploring the world at a very young age and has now visited 31 countries! Her goal was 30 countries in under 30 years, and she made it! Living abroad is not new to her. She has lived in Italy, Portugal, Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa for studies, work and volunteer programs. She is based in Cape Town, and is fluent in English, Greek, Italian and right now she is mastering her French. She is a marketing professional who has had the chance to work across multiple sectors in e-commerce, digital currency, venture capital funds, AR mobile games, charity organizations, technology, and hospitality. She is very excited to be part of the Connect-123 family, as she is a firm believer that giving yourself the chance to live, work and volunteer abroad while studying, is the best thing you can gift yourself!
Program Coordinator, Spain
Zuzana discovered her passion for traveling and international educational projects during her studies in the Czech Republic and Ireland. She participated in several volunteer programmes in the Ukraine and in Greece and, since she missed the international environment back home, she also organised cross-cultural projects at her university. After graduating with an Arts Studies degree she was offered an internship in Oxford and ended up living in the magical Harry Potter-like town for a few years. Here she worked with international students from all over the globe and helped them make the most out of their time in the UK. Her interest in learning new languages and a very serious need of sunshine lead her to Spain, where she has lived for over a year now. On the weekends Zuzana can (not) be found on and around the nearest mountains, hiking and enjoying the early mornings in nature accompanied by her close friends and, of course, some delicious Spanish food!