I struggle every year to capture much of what’s going on at Fletcher.  My primary mission is to focus on admissions updates, and there are other sources for Fletcher in the news, but realistically, how much time can any of us spend chasing down current information?  So I try to give blog readers a sense of what’s happening with occasional updates.

In that context, I was happy to find the 2016-2017 annual report from the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in my inbox.  In addition to the basics, the annual report provides a great snapshot of an active center and opportunities for students.  From conducting research to attending international climate talks, students from all degree programs who focus on environment issues have great options to broaden their learning, and gain skills and experience that goes beyond the classroom.

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Time to take a minute to focus on those folks who will apply by October 15 for January 2018 enrollment.  I fear that this group ends up receiving a little less care from us than they deserve, as October 15 is squooshed in between the rush of the semester’s start and the busy build-up to the following September’s enrollment process.

So, my prospective Januarian friends. What does it mean to start your Fletcher degree in January, rather than September?  First, let’s note that only the MALD, MA, and MIB programs allow January enrollment.  And then I’ll say that there’s effectively no curricular difference whether you start in January or September.  Sure, the MIB pre-session would end up being “pre” your second semester, rather than your first, and there are a few other sequencing differences.  But on the whole, the programs play out the same way whether you start in the spring semester or the fall.  Plus, by joining an already-in-progress student community, you’ll soon be swept in with the crowd and you’ll look like a pro.

One significant difference between January and September enrollment is that Januarians have two summers to work with.  Some students will pursue internships in both summers, while others might use one for research or language study.  For career changers, this can be very useful indeed.

As for the application itself, what should you be thinking about now?  With a little less than a month to go before the deadline, ideally you already have a master plan — testing is done (or at least scheduled), recommendations have been requested, and essays have been outlined.  If you’re not quite at that point, then get going on the test dates and recommendations.  You can always push yourself, but you can’t hurry former supervisors or professors.  And you certainly can’t make a test date appear where none exists.

If you’re planning to participate in an evaluative interview, remember that you should schedule your appointment for before the application deadline.  Check the schedule and find a time that works for you.  The interview program kicks off next Monday (September 25) and next week is nearly booked up already.  There are still plenty of appointments available in the following week, but don’t dawdle — grab your preferred time!

There.  That should get our prospective Januarians going.  But for anyone on the fence about when to apply, I’ll mention that while the spring semester starts with a little less hoopla than the fall, there’s something special about jumping into Fletcher alongside a smaller group of fellow students.  Most Januarian classes stay close throughout their Fletcher experience, even as they melt into the student community.

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I have two more posts to share from the Class of 2016 before I move on to last May’s graduating class.  Today, Nathalie Hudson tells us about her experience since completing the MIB program 15 months ago, much of her time apparently having been spent on an airplane.

My year since Fletcher can mostly be described as an international one — I’ve accumulated over 50,000 airmiles (yes, I realize my carbon footprint it terrible…) and visited 16 countries.  The year started with an MIB wedding in Japan, and my one-year milestone since moving to Addis Ababa with Dalberg Global Development Advisors is going to be marked with a training in Bangkok and a music festival in Uganda.  In between I’ve danced to Bollywood music at Dalberg’s global retreat in India, had tea with pineapple farmers in Guinea, hiked up mountains and celebrated a wedding with some Fletcher favorites in Argentina, and helped organize a 100-person Iftar dinner in Tanzania.  All this while adjusting to life in Ethiopia, and contributing to growing our Dalberg Addis office from three people to 10 people.  It’s been an exciting and challenging year, with a new city, a new job and a lot of new responsibilities.

The mobility of this year has not just been linked to my location, it’s also in the nature of the work, with no two weeks ever being the same.  My first project was in Conakry, Guinea, establishing the strategy for the Prime Minister’s new Delivery Unit, specifically its agriculture project.  We were tasked with choosing which sector to work in, and then developing a plan for how to grow the sector in the coming two years.  Our interviews with the Ministry of Agriculture and data analysis of agricultural production led us to discover the once large but now dwindling pineapple industry of Guinea.  We then went out to the fields of Kindia to speak with pineapple farmers, and even visited the Prime Minister’s office to discuss our project.  Having spoken to distinguished guests and officials at Fletcher certainly helped in my preparation, but nothing quite prepares you for having to answer a Prime Minister’s questions directly!

After six weeks in Guinea I went back to Addis, moving from agriculture supply chain strategies to developing a business plan for an infant nutrition and women’s empowerment program in Ethiopia.  As this project ended, I packed my bag again to go to Denmark, creating an emerging market strategy for a large corporate client.  My most recent project was based in Kenya, working with a large pan-African bank to review some of its strategies and partnerships through expert interviews with new and innovate start-ups, and data analysis to understand the biggest opportunities.  In between projects I’ve attended conferences, organized a private-sector business development week in Tanzania, relaunched Dalberg’s inclusive business practice area, and helped set up our Ethiopian office.  The learning curve starts over again after every project, so the pace of change is challenging, but it’s certainly never boring.

These different projects and experiences are informed by either the classes I took or the people I met at Fletcher.  When I first arrived in Guinea I was reading a paper on Guinean agriculture that I realized had been written by a classmate.  When I kicked off our work on emerging market strategy for the Danish company and looked through their annual report, I pulled out my accounting class notes.  And as I do all of these projects while reading through the news coming out of Europe and the U.S. on a daily basis, I go back to my Historian’s Art class memories to ensure my reactions are informed and measured.

My past year has not only been informed by Fletcher, but was also made possible by Fletcher.  My path into Dalberg, after applying four times previously, was through a Fletcher alum who generously gave me his time for an informational interview 18 months ago, and has now become my boss.  My adjustment to Dalberg was made, and continues to be made, much easier with two Fletcher alums becoming buddies/advisors and answering all of my questions and concerns.

And while packing a suitcase and traveling constantly may sound glamorous, life on a plane (especially when traveling through African airports) is not always fun.  My travels around the world have been made all the more enjoyable because I often have a Fletcher person to have coffee with or host me.  And of course, Fletcher weddings have been a great excuse for adventures and reunions.  Being located next to a hub airport in Addis has also meant I’ve had a few Fletcher visitors myself.

My faith in humanity also continues thanks to ongoing conversations with my classmates, over coffee or on social media.  With the world going a bit mad these days, the presence of Fletcher folks in my Twitter feed continues to give me hope that we’re not doomed just yet.  Professor Khan also gave his time this year, in between writing his latest book, to help me and other alums organize a Historian’s Art Alumni Discussion where we discussed The Trump Presidency as Contemporary History.  It was an incredible way to reconnect with former classmates, and feel the Fletcher vibe again, albeit this time via WebEx while sitting on the shores of Lake Kivu with a dodgy internet connection!

Fletcher prepared me for my new career as a consultant by encouraging me to think critically and with empathy.  It equipped me with lessons in corporate finance, business strategy, financial inclusion, and history, that I use daily (although I still wish I’d paid more attention in Corporate Finance).  It has also given me a network of friends and classmates around the world who are generous with their time and inspiring with their stories.  Last week I made Gold Status on Ethiopian Airlines, a fitting one-year milestone that shows how far I’ve traveled both literally and figuratively in my year since Fletcher.

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Tucked in the corner of a grand room at the Council on Foreign Relations, I enjoyed the APSIA graduate school fair on Tuesday.  With the curtains behind us, we looked pretty fancy.  Most of the evening is a non-stop talk-fest, but there were a few moments when I could chat a little longer with visitors.  I had two alumni with me, Justin, who worked in the Admissions Office for two years, and Atanas, who was a two-year student member of the Admissions Committee and who has sent me occasional updates since he graduated.  They’re both well settled in their post-Fletcher careers and lives, which is great to see.

Before the fair, I had a spare hour and I also met up with my friend and Fletcher alum, Charlie Scott, F94.  We caught up on general life stuff, but I also got the details on his upcoming crazy shenanigans.  (One of his past trips described here.)  He and his “Team See Possibilities” pals will be participating in a run/kayak (or was it run/bike/kayak) endurance challenge at and near the Great Wall in China.  I’ll share details in November when I have them.

I hear that the Washington, DC APSIA fair was also super busy for Liz.  Besides the opportunity to meet folks, the fairs give us a sense of what prospective students know about Fletcher at this point in their application year.  That’s useful for me as blogger — I’ll try to cover some key topics as September and October roll on.

My next fair will be Boston Idealist.  That’s a big one, and I won’t have as grand a setting for the Fletcher table, but I’ll look forward to meeting prospective students from the local area.

 

We’re kicking off our fall travel schedule this week!  By the end of the weekend, Liz, Dan, Kristen, and I will all have gone somewhere, whether for a day or for a more extended trip.  For an overview, check out our travel calendar.

As I write, I’m about to grab my bag and head for the T (subway) to South Station, where I’ll start my trip to the New York APSIA Graduate School Fair.  If you’ll be there, please be sure to say hi.  I have two alumni booked in to help and I’m looking forward to catching up with them as well as meeting future students.

 

As a service to our applicants, as well as to my Admissions pals, I want to encourage you to select an email address that you will use in corresponding with us, and then stick with that address.  Our application management system files all materials on the basis of your address; if you use multiple addresses, messages and materials that you send to us can be lost.

If you’re thinking that it isn’t your responsibility to worry about our filing system, you’re absolutely right!  But if you don’t worry about it, then you may find us pestering you for some item that you have emailed to us.  We can search for it when it disappears into the void, but it’s easiest to keep it from going in that direction in the first place.  I should mention that this is true for many other graduate schools that are using the same application system.  Sticking to one email address will be a good policy for your correspondence with all your graduate schools.

This is one of the first Admissions Tips blog posts of the new application cycle, but there are plenty more to come.  Stay tuned!

 

Every now and then, a student, graduate, or professor asks to provide a blog post.  This past summer, Professor Jeswald Salacuse offered to describe how he came to write his newest bookProfessor Salacuse is Fletcher’s first Tufts Distinguished Professor and Braker Professor of Law, and he teaches and researches on international negotiation, law and development, and international investment law.  Also worth noting — Professor Salacuse was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria in the mid-1960s.  You can also read about him from his Faculty Spotlight profile.

My new book, Real Leaders Negotiate! – Gaining, Using, and Keeping the Power to Lead Through Negotiation, published in August by Palgrave Macmillan, grew out of the disconnect that I saw between standard leadership literature and my own experience as a leader.  Conventional wisdom holds that leaders command to achieve their goals and that the effectiveness of their commands depends on their “vision,” “charisma,” “presence” or other mystical qualities that management scholars may dream up.  Having served as a leader of various organizations over the last thirty-five years, including two graduate schools (one being Fletcher), several professional and academic associations, international tribunals, and corporate boards, little of what I read in the literature seemed to apply to the leadership positions I had held.  What I did in those roles was to negotiate — constantly.  So for me, to lead is to negotiate.

That insight became the basis of my book as I explored the way leaders used negotiation to achieve their goals, both organizational and personal — an exploration that led me to focus on two important facets of leadership: 1) leadership tasks and 2) the leadership lifecycle.  Both require skillful negotiation.

Negotiating Leadership Tasks

Leadership scholars tend to focus on what leaders give to their organizations.  In short, they look at leadership from the supply side.  It is equally, if not more, important to examine leadership from the demand side, to ask what organizations and groups need from their leaders.  Real Leaders Negotiate! concludes that organizations look to their leaders to negotiate the following seven daily tasks of leadership:

  1. Every organization, large and small, needs its leader to help establish its goals.  That does not mean that the leader simply declares a vision for the organization and then commands its members to follow it.  The process of goal setting in a complex organization with diverse members is usually a complicated, lengthy, and elaborate multilateral negotiation that requires skillful coalition building.
  2. All organizations want their leaders to cause their members, each with individual wills and often competing interests, to work for the common good.  Through the art of negotiation, skillful leaders seek to integrate the persons they lead into a single organization, team, or community, an essential requirement for achieving its goals.
  3. Conflict management.  Conflict is inevitable within organizations, and their members look to their leaders to resolve conflicts before they become destructive, a task that requires resorting to negotiation and mediation.
  4. Effective leaders educate, coach, guide, and advise the people they lead and thus give them the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out the jobs of the organization.  Arriving at the right educational process often requires the leader to engage in negotiation.
  5. Organizational members turn to their leaders for motivation and encouragement.  To determine which incentives will best motivate employees, leaders usually engage widely in negotiation throughout the organization.
  6. Leaders are constantly representing the organizations they lead to the outside world, whether they are negotiating a labor contract or attending a reception given by a customer, persuading the company’s board of directors to improve the bonus system, or seeking to arrange a merger with another corporation.  Representation is essentially all negotiation.
  7. Trust creation.  Without the trust of organizational members, a leader will be unable to perform the other leadership tasks effectively and thus to lead.  Leaders can build trust through negotiation, specifically by finding ways to meet other parties’ interests and demonstrating their ability to follow through on their promises.

Negotiating the Leadership Lifecycle

An individual’s leadership has a lifecycle that passes through three phases: birth, life, and ultimately death.  What gives life to leadership is power, a quality that one may define as the ability to influence other persons in desired ways.  The three phases of leadership are about negotiating leadership power.  Phase One is leadership attainment, in which a person negotiates to obtain the power to lead, a phase that concerns not just achieving a desired leadership position on the organization chart but also the necessary leadership role, that is, the ability and resources to carry out the duties of that position in a desired way.  Phase Two is leadership action, in which an individual uses leadership power to advance the interests of the organization, as well as those of the leader.  As we saw, negotiation is fundamental for effective exercise of those leadership powers by accomplishing the necessary leadership tasks.

Phase Three of the leadership lifecycle is leadership preservation and loss.  A leader’s position is never permanent.  As a backbench MP in the House of Commons once shouted out in a debate to unseat the Conservative Party’s leader, “Leadership is a leasehold, not a freehold.”  No matter the circumstances, a person’s leadership always faces challenges and threats.  Sometimes a leader can withstand them; in other instances, he or she must yield leadership powers to another person willingly or only after severe struggle.  In either case, the challenged leader will invariably employ negotiation techniques and strategies to hold on to a leadership position or, when that is not possible, exit leadership under the most advantageous conditions possible.  Every wise leader should know when to stop — good advice not only for leaders, but also for writers of leadership blogs.

 

I’m running late in preparing a blog post for today, but I hope you’ll enjoy this video that was shared by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  Geoff and Claire are Fletcher grads who met while they were students and have gone forward to create both careers and a family.  Even if, like me, you don’t speak Arabic, this is a cute story!

You can find the original video on the Embassy’s Facebook page, in their Meet a Diplomat series.

 

Welcome back to the Admissions Blog everyone!  It’s exciting to start a new academic year, though also a bit daunting as the pace of life has picked up dramatically since the sleepy August days of last week.  Already we’re turning our attention to travel and on-campus visitor activities.  Students, new and returning, are meandering through the building, pursuing a special Shopping Day schedule, before the official start of classes tomorrow.  It’s all happening!

An important marker of the start of the new academic year is Convocation, which will take place on Friday.  Those who can’t attend can still participate virtually through the live broadcast on the Fletcher Facebook page.  Tune in Friday at 2:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4) to hear remarks from Dean Stavridis and Reeta Roy, F89, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, an organization that has partnered with Fletcher in the past.

Between now and Friday, students will nail down their course selections for the semester and enjoy a few days when they are completely caught up with assignments.  We in Admissions will continue booking flights and hotels and contacting alumni to help out during our visits.  On my own to-do list for today is to ship materials for the New York APSIA fair on Tuesday.  If you’re planning to be there, be sure to say hi!

The new year is underway and we look forward to meeting you here at Fletcher or on the road!

 

I had the honor and pleasure yesterday to attend the dissertation defense of one of our PhD students.  I can’t always make it to these milestone events, but when I can, I do.  Even when the subject matter is completely outside of anything I’ve ever known, it’s inspiring to celebrate the result of so many years of intense research and study.

On another note, new videos have been added to a collection answering the question “Why Fletcher?”  Here’s one, from an alumna at the World Bank (where, I hear, you can bump into a Fletcher grad around any corner).

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