Aspire Academy

Aspire Academy is our emblematic program. It is the only leadership and entrepreneurship academy in Romania with courses taught by top Harvard, Stanford, Wharton professors, successful regional CEOs and entrepreneurs. Dedicated to deeply-motivated and distinctive students, it is specifically designed to encourage participants to pursue their passions and create an energetic, proactive community with common interests and values.

Our eight-day program takes place every July at Ana Hotels in Poiana Brasov and is dedicated to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Each and every one of our 45 participants is an outstanding individual who is either already or well on their way to affecting change in their community and beyond.

Our academy is based on four fundamental pillars:

  1. Leadership – A mix of engaging case studies and interactive sessions with leaders from various professional fields
  2. Personal development – Communication and self-development sessions paired with self-awareness team-based projects which offer participants the opportunity to discover the factors that motivate and drive them
  3. Entrepreneurship – Lectures on how to build a start-up, discussions with the most successful regional entrepreneurs and a business plan competition.
  4. Networking with Aspire alumni – Formal and non-formal networking sessions between the participants themselves, as well as Aspire alumni.

A glimpse of the lectures and workshops led by professors from Harvard and Stanford

  • Authentic Leadership Development
  • Strategic planning
  • Design Thinking
  • Business and ethics

The program also enables the Aspire participants to engage with notable speakers across key sectors and:

  • Discover how to meticulously set goals and create a plan to achieve them
  • Discuss about the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership style, your professional objectives and what it means to build a successful career
  • Understand entrepreneurship and the positive impact you can have in the world

In addition to lectures and workshops, participants have multiple opportunities to connect and form life-long relationships. Below are a few examples: 

    • Understanding the art and science of communication
    • Discovering leadership through Tango
    • Outdoor team-building competitions

Who are we looking for?

    • Undergraduate and postgraduate students, under 25 years old.
    • Demonstrated leadership track: You should be genuinely committed to bringing about positive change in your community, school and respective country, be it through entrepreneurship, policy, student clubs, NGOs, sports, or others.
    • Intellectual maturity and academic excellence: We are not looking for candidates with perfect scores, but for those who can prove that progress, ambition and hard-work are part of their day to day life. Candidates demonstrate a high level of intellectual curiosity, are committed to learning and discovering and show passion for a particular field.
    • Emotional maturity: Candidates must be willing to connect with their peers and open up to discussions, debates, and storytelling. They must demonstrate an ability to purposefully engage with others in ways that help foster a climate of mutual understanding and support.
    • Driven personality: Our students show a willingness to go outside their comfort zone, take risks and learn from them. We seek young people who have demonstrated energy and determination during both individual and group projects and assignments.
    • Last but not least, it is imperative that applicants have a strong command of English, as the program is entirely English-based.

If the above elements seem to describe you, we gladly invite you to apply and become part of our amazing community of alumni!

Our Other Programs

Applications are now closed

The application period for this program will open in February 2020!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the application deadline?
We accept application for the early round that come in until Saturday, February 29 th 2020 at 23:59 GMT+2. We also accept applications for the final round that come in until Wednesday, April 15th 2020 at 23:59 GMT+2.
When will Aspire Academy take place this year?
The official dates for Aspire Academy 2020 are July 22nd – July 29th.
Where are the meetings and courses held?
All events will take place at Ana Hotels in Poiana Brasov, Romania.
What is the cost to attend if I am selected?
The fee for Aspire Academy is 450 euros for early phase applications and 550 euros for regular applications. We also provide full and partial scholarships to a number of participants (more details below). The fee covers room and board – i.e. accommodation in a double, shared room and 3 meals/day for the entire duration of the program, as well as all other program-related costs.
Are there any scholarships that Aspire provides?
Yes – we are doing our best to offer some partial and full scholarships to the participants who prove a real need of financial support. Once you receive an offer from us, you will be able to submit an application for financial support. We will then ask you to send us a few documents and to answer some questions in order to support your motivation for requesting the scholarship. Also, If you are from Ukraine, Armenia, the Republic of Moldova or Georgia, then we have some special scholarships for you that cover travel costs, as well as the participation fee. Make sure to mention in the application your citizenship. While we are trying to accommodate as many scholarship requests as possible, our external funding is limited and so is our capacity to respond positively to all such applications.
Are travel costs also covered by the Aspire scholarship?
Sadly, at this moment we are not able to cover any costs regarding transport. We do help you with transportation from Bucharest to Poiana Brasov, where the programs take place. As for the rest of the travelling costs, you will have to handle them yourself. However, many of our participants have managed to secure some funding from the Career Centres from their universities and other personal development grants awarded by their universities. We therefore encourage you to check with your university.
Will you help me with my visa?
Yes. The Aspire team provides support to all international students in order for them to get their visa in time. Keep in mind that Romania is a European Union member state. If you are an EU citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Romania.
Am I required to attend all sessions?
Yes. We expect our participants to attend all sessions.
What commitments are expected of the alumni?
After the program ends, participants join the ever expanding community of Aspire alumni that is present and active across the globe. Alumni are encouraged to remain involved in the Aspire community in a variety of ways. These include recruiting and mentoring new participants, promoting Aspire and its programs, becoming part of the organizing team and sharing their experiences and knowledge with future generation of alumni. They will also be encouraged to stay connected with each other, and provide support to the projects and initiatives pursued by their fellow “Aspirers”.
Is there an age limit for participants?
Yes. We are selecting undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in higher education, although please note that postgraduates will occupy fewer places on the program and must be at most 25 years old. If you are over 25 years old, then we encourage you to visit our Aspire Professional page. If you are a high school student, then have a look at our Aspire High School program.
I’m interested in the program, but can’t attend this year. How can I receive information about the program in the future?
Please visit our website again when this year’s application period ends. Visit the Home page and follow the instructions to join the notification list!
If I graduated another Aspire program previously, can I apply to another module?
Yes, we encourage you to continue your Aspire journey by following and completing another Aspire program. We believe that the most impactful Aspire journey starts with High School, is followed by Academy and then by Professionals

Aspire Program Current Professors and Speakers


Alain Heureux

Expert in strategy, digital, innovation, marketing and entrepreneurship. MBA Lecturer and serial entrepreneur

Phil Malone

Professor at Stanford, Innovation and Intellectual Property

Sam Potolicchio

Director of Global and Custom Education at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University

Luciana Herman

Lecturer in Public Policy, Stanford University, PhD in the Art of Writing

Steven Jarding

Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Stay tuned to find out!

Aspire Program former Professors and Speakers


Fady Chreih

CEO, Regina Maria

Dan Pascariu

Board President at UniCredit Tiriac Bank

Ismail Radwan

World Bank Public Sector Expert

Don Lothrop

Founder of Romania One

Mariana Gheorghe

CEO of Petrom

Bogdan Georgescu

Founder of Bookster

Andrei Popescu

Master Training, Dale Carnegie

Alis Anagnostakis

Public Speaker and Personal Development Coach

Lucian Mandruta

Media figure

Tim Schigel

Founder and CEO of ShareThis

Steve Schelhammer

CEO of Phytel

Anca Harasim

Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bucharest

Elisabeta Moraru

Country Manager of Google Romania

Nadia Roumani

Lecturer in Design Thinking at Stanford University

Andreea Gorbatai

Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley, PhD Harvard Business School

Matthew Lee

Assistant Professor at INSEAD MBA Singapore, PhD at Harvard