“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What’s in a name?

I grew up in Skopje, the capital of present-day North Macedonia, a small country in the Balkans. I say “present-day”, because during my childhood, we called ourselves Macedonian, half of the world referred to us as former-Yugoslav, and many, in the neighboring countries, publicly debated our ethnicity and right to self-determine.

My national identity has been questioned and negated. Scornful customs officers scoffed at the name on my passport. Kids I met in the region kept telling me my country shouldn’t exist. And along that road I emerged—more eager than ever to define and express my own personal, multifaceted identity. And my identity—a dedication to mentorship that evolved from my traditional Balkan upbringing, and a passion for innovation spawned from my childhood curiosity—has guided my actions since. It is portable; it boarded planes with me to Harvard for college, New York and Toronto for work, and then onward to HBS and beyond.

A lot is in a name; for starters, the right to be and exist as you see yourself. I dedicate my life and career to helping others find their authentic voice and shape an identity that anchors them.

— Ana Kotevska Tracey