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Anna Bakunts (MBA ’11): A Transformative Educational Journey With AUA

4 min read

GLENDALE, California — Anna Bakunts (MBA ’11) embarked on a profound educational journey that diverged from the conventional path to higher learning. Her university education began in Los Angeles, after which she was drawn to her ancestral homeland to study at the American University of Armenia (AUA). This decision not only shaped her academic and professional career, but also ignited in her a special connection with Armenia. 

Bakunts was born in Yerevan, Armenia and immigrated to Los Angeles, California with her family at the age of 16. “My parents worked as neurologists in their respective hospitals in Yerevan, and placed utmost importance on education. They wanted to ensure the best opportunities for my sister and me, and they raised us to place great value on our education, integrity, ethics, and patriotism. I honor them for their dedication and sacrifice.”

In 2009, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Irvine. Subsequently, she attended Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge in England. Recounting what compelled her to pursue graduate studies at AUA, she praises her parents’ guidance and the judicious advice of one of her favorite professors. 

“My parents always spoke fondly of their university years, where they had formed lifelong friendships and experienced a sense of camaraderie that left a lasting mark in their lives. Their experience was rather different when compared to the education system in the United States, where such deep connections seem elusive. Their stories planted the seed of curiosity in me, but it was my Economics professor at the University of Cambridge who steered me toward a different path. Instead of pursuing an MBA at Cambridge, he advised me to seek a school that offered not just quality education but an experience that would shape my character and life perspective. Without any hesitation, the American University of Armenia was my choice.”

Throughout her MBA studies at AUA, Bakunts asserts, the knowledge and skills she acquired shaped in her a unique mindset that set her apart throughout her career and life beyond the classroom. She reflects on how the University’s academic rigor challenged her to strive for knowledge, growing her intellectual curiosity and encouraging her to think critically, conduct independent research, and articulate her ideas effectively. “These skills have been invaluable in embracing challenges with confidence and creativity. AUA’s multidisciplinary approach also broadened my horizons, allowing me to connect seemingly unrelated fields,” she expounds. 

HR Lab logoCurrently, Bakunts is the Executive Director at HR Lab Los Angeles, a consulting and advisory firm she founded in 2020. HR Lab Los Angeles specializes in human resource compliance, counseling small and medium-sized businesses in the greater Los Angeles area. Alongside her team of professionals from different backgrounds, she strives to serve as a go-to resource for her clients, invariably utilizing a multicultural stance to meet the diverse needs of her customers. 

Bakunts credits AUA for equipping her with an interdisciplinary perspective that has provided her with significant career advantages, enabling her to tackle complex problems with innovative approaches and devise creative solutions. “AUA emphasized communication and teamwork through group projects, presentations, and interactive discussions. These skills are indispensable in today’s workplace, where collaboration and effective communication are key to competitive advantage and success. AUA’s global perspective and emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving have consistently made me a valuable asset to employers and colleagues alike,” she expounds. In addition to personal growth, AUA has instilled in her a strong sense of social responsibility that made her aware of the importance of making a positive impact on society. “This sense of purpose has guided my career choices and motivated me to seek opportunities for meaningful change.”

Anna Bakunts holding a cup of coffeeIn 2022, Bakunts attended AUA’s 30th anniversary event in Los Angeles, which was co-sponsored by HR Lab Los Angeles. The celebration was dedicated to mustering support for the Build a Better Future With AUA capital campaign. As a donor herself to the campaign in the category of “Builder,” Bakunts has exemplified the alumni spirit of gratitude and expressed belief in AUA’s role in higher education. “HR Lab sponsored the event because we recognize that we give each other wings by giving back and sharing what we know. Times have changed, and it’s more about spreading what you know than keeping it to yourself and worrying about competing with others. This way, you are continuously improving while giving back at the same time,” Bakunts explains.

In her view, the University must embrace physical as well as programmatic growth to enable increased rates of acceptance of local students and applicants from abroad. She adds, “The more educated our coming generation, the stronger our country. AUA students play a significant role in this because they are part of Armenia’s top talent. By receiving phenomenal education, they can continue building a better future for generations to come. Their success is our success.”

Recently, Bakunts was featured as a special guest at an event hosted by Golden State Bank to welcome Dr. Bruce Boghosian as the new AUA president. Recounting the years she spent at AUA and the impact that had on her, she underscores the imperative of conveying one’s regard and appreciation as an AUA alumna: “Being an AUA alumna means being part of a growing and supportive alumni network, providing mentorship to current students, and collaborating with the University and other alumni to benefit development initiatives. This network reinforces the idea that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Anna Bakunts at an AUA event hosted by Golden State Bank, September 2023

Anna Bakunts at an AUA event hosted by Golden State Bank, September 2023

Recounting her transformative AUA journey, Bakunts wishes for others to have the same experience, highly recommending the same opportunity to other students, especially to fellow Diasporan Armenians. “It’s not just about gaining knowledge; it’s about connecting with your heritage, immersing yourself in our rich culture, and forming lifelong friendships. Studying at AUA is a unique opportunity to deepen your understanding of our roots. It’s a chance to continue the legacy of our ancestors and contribute to the advancement of our homeland. AUA offers not just an education but an experience that will profoundly shape your character and perspective.”

From AUA students to alumni to donors, each is an indispensable constituent for building a strong foundation for the future of Armenia.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. AUA’s Office of Development stewards the University’s philanthropic efforts exclusively for educational purposes.