Meeting him, you’d never guess Carlvin Sylvain Dorvilier was a shy child. The outgoing LinkedIn client solutions manager is the youngest of three boys born to Haitian parents, who spent his first 12 years of life close to home in southern Florida. According to him, meals, school, and church were the staples of life, and his only friends were his immediate family.

Self-conscious because of a speech impediment, Dorvilier says he lived in the shadows and struggled to find his place until he accidentally discovered a love for football in middle school.

“It was the last day of sixth grade, and a classmate called me over to play football because the team was short a guy,” he says. “I wasn’t an athlete, so I found myself starting to sweat. I walked over to the quarterback and asked him politely not to throw the ball to me.”

The score was tied at 14, and it was the final play. As the quarterback yelled, “Hike,” Dorvilier ran down the field to suddenly find the football spiraling toward him.

“It slammed into my body,” he says. “I hugged that pigskin for dear life and ran as fast as I could. I, miraculously, scored the winning touchdown.”

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That touchdown was a turning point for Dorvilier. As he developed his football skills and his confidence grew, he dreamed of being like his idol Randy Moss and playing for the National Football League one day.

His teen years brought new challenges, as his parents split up and his mother and brothers moved around a lot. When he was 16, he got a devastating blow when his mother passed away within months of being diagnosed with AIDS. Dorvilier and his older brother, Richard, were determined to keep their three-bedroom apartment, so he mowed lawns and got jobs at the local movie theater and a nearby nursing home to contribute to household expenses and start saving for college.

In 11th grade, he gave up football and switched to running.

“I stopped playing football when, one day, a classmate blurted out, ‘Black people can't run cross country, especially those on the football team.’”

The comment ignited his competitive spirit, and he vowed to beat that classmate’s track records. He became a key contributor on the cross-country team, and he and his teammates set the school record in the 4 x 800 meters relay.

After achieving athletic success, confronting his fears became a way of life for Dorvilier. He set out to overcome his speech impediment by enrolling in a public speaking class. Remarkably, it became his favorite subject, and he started to think about college and pursuing a customer-facing career.

Challenging himself again, Dorvilier chose a college in a state where he knew no one—Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan—where he ran track and majored in advertising and integrated marketing communications. He self-funded his college education and participated in a study abroad program in South Korea, encouraged by his adviser and mentor, Ferris Chief Diversity Officer Dr. David Pilgrim, a public speaker and expert on multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations.

“Dr. Pilgrim encouraged me to travel abroad to experience different cultures and force me out of my comfort zone,” he says. “His department offered to fund my trip, and it was an experience of a lifetime.”

After college, Dorvilier began his career in advertising sales and client service in New York City with sports publisher, Rodale. After nearly three years, he realized he wanted to transition his career to the technology industry. To help him make the change, he searched for a suitable business program and discovered Harvard Business School Online’s CORe program and enrolled in 2015.

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“CORe gave me the confidence and the network to help me make that leap from publishing to tech,” he says. “Having the massive network from my CORe classmates and the Harvard name on my resume opened doors and helped me find positions I was interested in pursuing.”

He adds, “CORe, and specifically the case method, allowed me to develop the problem-solving skills tech companies look for. It taught me there isn’t a formula for solving real-world issues, but there’s a foundational framework that can be backed by data to help form an intelligent conclusion.”

After a stint at blogging and social networking site Tumblr, he returned to Rodale to take a national account manager role for Runner’s World magazine. Less than a year later, Dorvilier landed a client solutions manager role at LinkedIn and has since moved into a technology-specific position.

Other than his satisfying job at LinkedIn, Dorvilier continues to run and stay in shape, partly motivated by meeting Usain Bolt and other world-famous athletes when he served as a volunteer at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

With a successful career well underway, Dorvilier says he may go to graduate school, but he’s happy now where he is.

“CORe has changed the trajectory of my career,” he says. “If you had asked me where I would see myself in five years, five years ago, I couldn’t even imagine working alongside some of the brightest minds in the industry.”

If you’re interested in evolving your career and are seeking a foundation in business, explore CORe and other learner stories to discover how the program can help you advance your career.

Dorvilier was previously featured in a student story. His story was updated on May 21, 2020, to capture his career since completing CORe in 2015.

Michele Reynolds

About the Author

Michele Reynolds handles brand marketing and PR for Harvard Business School Online. Prior to HBS Online, she led communications for TripAdvisor and Gazelle and has been widely quoted in national media outlets, including CBS News, Reuters, and The New York Times. Michele earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University. Outside work, she spends time with her teenage daughter, plays tennis, and visits her enormous extended family.