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Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation is a field that has grown dramatically at Fletcher in recent years.  Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church kindly offered this run-down on a conference she attended recently that served as a Fletcher reunion.

A highlight of my professional calendar is the American Evaluation Association (AEA) annual conference.  As the preeminent professional event for the global evaluation community, this 4000+ attendee conference shows the innovation, diversity, and scale of the profession.  In addition to the professional development opportunities, the event is a highlight because of the opportunity to reconnect with the Fletcher Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DME) community through the annual Fletcher lunch.  Learning what former students are doing, along with their challenges and accomplishments, is always a rewarding experience.

This year, an extraordinary 29 Fletcher alumni and students attended the AEA conference in Chicago.  A few fun facts:

  • Two alumni flew from Turkey where they work in humanitarian M&E.
  • One alumna was from my very first year of teaching at Fletcher (nine years ago).
  • Twenty-six attended the Fletcher lunch, of whom only one was male.  (He took the picture below!)
  • One alumna is the head of an AEA Topical Interest Group.
  • Approximately six alumni did presentations, and some did more than one.
  • Approximately five alumni work for funders.
  • Seven current students attended, of whom one was a first-year student.
  • One recent graduate returned to Rwanda to continue her role in development M&E.
  • At least nine nationalities were represented.

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Time to return to the first-year students who I hope will be two-year bloggers, sharing their Fletcher stories with you.  Today we’ll meet McKenzie, who describes her path to the MIB program and her first two-plus months in it.

McKenzieHi everyone!  My name is McKenzie Smith.  I’m thrilled that I will be sharing my experiences in the Master of International Business (MIB) program over the next two years.  To get started, let me share a bit about where I come from, where I’m going, and how I plan to use my time at Fletcher — the things I imagine you’re considering yourself.  In short, I’m here at Fletcher to explore the growth and adoption of impact investment that helps develop emerging markets.  In particular, I’m interested in the role that capital flows can play in encouraging businesses to consider their environmental, social, and governance impacts on society in the course of their operations.

Before Fletcher, I spent four years as a consultant helping public- and private-sector clients solve complex challenges related to strategy and operational efficiency, organizational design, and large-scale program management.  I also supported business development efforts for multiple projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Indonesia.  Prior to that, I taught kindergarten in Colorado after studying international development and international politics at Georgetown University.  One thing I’ve learned from my varied experience is that tackling multi-dimensional challenges necessitates interdisciplinary solutions.  Leveraging finance to build vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems and promote economic transformation requires a complex set of actors, from investors to academics, NGOs to businesses, who must work in a coordinated manner to enable citizens and businesses to create economic value.  Achieving this through a lens of social impact can be even more challenging as investors and entrepreneurs seek to create social value that does not cause a loss of financial returns.

Yet, while facilitating the growth and adoption of impact (or “socially responsible,” or “Environmental, Social, and Governance/ESG”) investing is fraught with obstacles, I find myself saying, “Challenge accepted!”  In fact, individuals around the world can and are finding innovative ways to blend social value with financial returns.  A growing number of investors from the millennial generation are demanding it, and more and more institutions are devoting resources to research and fund development that creates opportunities for investors to “put their money where there values are.”

I could keep going, but I’ll jump to the question you’re likely asking at this point: in light of these goals, why Fletcher?  In short, I came to Fletcher to focus on international finance and social enterprise in emerging markets because Fletcher offers the right mix of rigorous MBA-type skills and an understanding of the multiple social, political, and economic issues inherent in conducting business around the world.

In terms of core business and finance skills, this semester alone I’m taking courses in corporate finance, global investment management, and financial statement management.  I’m building concrete skills in valuation, financial analysis, portfolio construction, and strategic decision making.

In terms of social enterprise in emerging markets, I’m taking a course called “Emerging Africa,” which examines the role of capitalism, entrepreneurship, and the private sector in African economies’ transformations.  This course is unique at Fletcher, especially for MIBs.  While many of us considered traditional MBAs and could have found similar courses in those programs, we would not have had the chance to take these courses alongside friends focused on human security, development economics, negotiation and conflict resolution, security studies, or environmental and energy policy.  Because the growth of entrepreneurship in emerging markets is intimately intertwined with an in-depth understanding of many of these issues, the Fletcher experience for students interested in international business cannot be beat.

As before, I could certainly go on.  In some ways, it’s hard to believe I’ve only just arrived!  At the same time, already in the second half of my first semester at Fletcher, it’s hard to believe how quickly time flies.  I can’t wait to share the rest of my experiences with you as the year progresses.

Until next time,

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I’ve been keeping an eye on the digest version that I receive of the Fletcher Social List, and I’m planning to share a day’s listing that best captures the scope of student community discussion.  I haven’t found it yet, but on a more amusing note, I thought I’d share the ten messages that were sent between 4:00 p.m. on Friday and 3:59 p.m. on Saturday.  This must be a record low email rate for the academic year, but the Halloween theme came through nice and strong.  The topics:

SEEKING: Brown Sandals Size 11 or 12

SEEKING: Halloween costume ideas (two messages on this topic)

SEEKING: Yellow Hat

SEEKING: Red Bow Tie

SEEKING: Black feather boa

Free food in Hall of Flags (courtesy of Saturday’s Religion, Law, and Diplomacy conference)

SEEKING: Hard hat to borrow

SEEKING: Straw Hat

PSA: Set your clocks back tonight

I’ll be back soon with a run-down of Social List content that reflects a more typical day, but this is the wonder of the List — it’s whatever students need/want it to be.

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Organizers of an upcoming conference asked me to share information with blog readers who are welcome to attend!

The first-ever Fletcher School Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Conference is just around the corner on Saturday, October 31, 2015.  The conference will bring together academics, practitioners, and religious leaders to demonstrate the role that religion plays across myriad issues, spanning security, conflict resolution, human rights, and civic engagement.  The three conference panels — Security and Conflict, Rights and the State, and Politics and Identity — will provide a forum to discuss how religion affects these spheres and how an understanding of religious influences improves policy-making.

For anyone interested in attending, registration is free.  Please visit the conference website to register in advance.  This is one of two new student-led conferences this fall, along with the upcoming forum on Gender and International Affairs.


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Today, I’m happy to introduce the first post from one of the new students who will report on their Fletcher experience in the Student Stories feature.  Tatsuo and I met last summer when he had recently arrived on campus, and I’m very excited to be able to highlight the experience of a student from Japan.  Fletcher benefits every year from the perspective of Japanese students, many of whom, like Tatsuo, have been sponsored by the organizations for which they work.  I’ll let Tatsuo supply the details.

TatsuoHello!  I am Tatsuo Sakai, a first-year MALD student.  I feel very happy to have the opportunity to share with you my future tough, but surely enjoyable, days at Fletcher, by posting in the Admissions blog.

My first-priority interest at Fletcher is international development.  I’d like to study theories and practical implications of development today.  I think there is a lot of room to pursue interdisciplinary work examining development studies for developing countries and regional development policies in well-developed countries.  I believe such integrated studies can contribute to both the less developed countries and to disadvantaged areas in well-developed countries.

Additionally, I am also interested in security studies.  As I will explain later, a position in homeland security is one of my future possible jobs.

Before Fletcher, I worked in the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), as a legal officer in three areas:

1) The city planning division
2) The international affairs office for Civil Aviation, and
3) The road administration division.

During my five years in MLIT, I worked on planning policies for reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011; negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other economic partnership agreements; reform of public road policies, including the introduction of private funding into public infrastructure projects; and promoting disaster response capabilities.

As a ministry official who was assigned to study abroad with a Japanese government long-term fellowship, I had some options for my graduate studies, from the west coast to the east coast, and including public policy schools or design/planning schools.  Finally, I decided to study at Fletcher for three reasons.

1) Fletcher’s broad and flexible curriculum

I am a person who cannot narrow my interests into a certain area.  Thus, in my work, I was in charge of broad fields, from very domestic policy, such as city planning legislation, to global negotiations with foreign counterparts, for example for the TPP.  I may even be assigned to be a Coast Guard officer in the future.  I am curious about and able to enjoy everything I encounter.  In this, my first semester at Fletcher, I am taking four courses — Law and Development, Development Economics: Policy Analysis, Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance, and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies.  The classes are very diverse, from law to economics to security studies.  Fletcher has courses and professors with expertise in many different areas, and we can take any courses we want within the program’s flexible requirements.

2) The community

Fletcher is well known, even in Japan, for its strong community.  After other Japanese students and I received our admission decisions from Fletcher, one of Fletcher’s alumni, the Pakistani ambassador in Japan, held a welcome party at his official residence.  We met many alumni from various government sections and countries.  I also feel the strength of the Fletcher community as a student here.  It’s my first time living in a foreign country, but I enjoy and relax with friendly support from classmates, even in an unfamiliar environment and with a tough workload.  I surely believe that the tight bonds in the community will contribute to our success around the world.

3) Fletcher’s reputation in international affairs

As you know, Fletcher is the oldest graduate school for international relations in the world.  We have a lot of successful alumni who have built a great reputation for the School in the United Nations, World Bank, or other international organizations, and of course, governments and the private sector.  The reputation prevails even where I didn’t expect it.  When I traveled to a rural town in Montana this summer, I wore a sweatshirt with a Fletcher logo.  An old couple asked me, “Are you a Fletcher student?”  I said yes, and then, they said, “You can save the world!  Please do it!”  I was surprised and really proud at that moment.

I have nearly completed my second month at Fletcher.  I’m looking forward to experiencing many strange, curious, surprising, and enjoyable events during my two years.  I hope you will enjoy sharing my experience at Fletcher through my posts in the blog!

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Time to wrap up the reports on summer internships.  Today, Ali tells us about her summer at YUM! Brands, a major multinational company that just happens to be located in her home town of Louisville, Kentucky.

When’s the last time you looked at a utility bill?  What about 20,000 utility bills?  That’s what I was doing this summer at YUM! Brands — the parent company for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.

Ali and the ColonelIt may sound mind-numbing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the task.  It cut across key departments and supported answers to questions, including:

  • What is the role of a for-profit company in addressing global climate change and water scarcity?
  • How do we communicate with franchisees about sustainability and cost tradeoffs in the supply chain?
  • What’s the best way to collect and manage CSR (corporate social responsibility) data from places like the U.S., China, and Australia?  Are we only responsible for equity markets, or are we responsible for franchisee markets, too?
  • What do investors care about, and how does sustainability affect YUM!’s stock price?
  • Should investors and governments encourage utilities to standardize units, billing cycles, and other statement features, as they increase their corporate water and greenhouse gas accounting requests, too?

Under the guidance of the Chief Sustainability Officer and YUM!’s Global Sustainability team, I collaborated with employees from government affairs, foundation, supply chain, IT, investor relations, and more, to author the company’s WDP (water disclosure project) report; develop its water stewardship strategy; select a new data management system; and engage employees, investors, and ESG (Environmental, Social And Governance) research agencies, around YUM!’s sustainability efforts and their connection to its stock price.

I enjoyed my time at YUM!, and this semester, I’m continuing my work from there through my involvement with Net Impact and my internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors, where I’m learning about sustainability from the fixed income investor’s perspective.

Breckinridge actively recruits Fletcher students, and I’m grateful that coming here for my degree gives me the opportunity to shift my career focus and intern in different settings than I’ve worked in before.

I’m looking forward to reporting more about the great and final year ahead!

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The second of our returning student bloggers to report this semester is Aditi, who spent her summer in Rwanda, where her experience taught her some lessons that she hadn’t anticipated.

Aditi_Patel JPGThanks to the Leir Fellowship that supports Fletcher student internships, I was able to work in Rwanda over the past summer.  It was my first experience traveling to Africa, but having spent time in India, the U.S., and South America, I felt as though I was well-prepared for what the experience might throw my way.  In some ways, I was right: I wasn’t overwhelmed by the crowds, or paralyzed by the sight of poverty, or surprised at the presence of expensive restaurants and a thriving nightlife with international music playing at every club.  In several other ways, however, I found that the experience was new in ways I had not anticipated.

The organization I was working with, Manos de Madres Rwanda, works in partnership with a local clinic that has worked in Kigali for over a decade.  The patients are women and children living with HIV/AIDS. Several grew up orphaned, and most are desperately poor.  The clinic provides its patients with physical and psychological care, and Manos de Madres offered to partner with the clinic to provide the women with livelihoods and skills training.  The organization has a program manager, a marketing manager who I helped hire during my time there, and three young “Cooperative Agents” who are part-time staff and also patients of the clinic.  This team runs a number of different programs with various cooperatives of women: an organic market garden called Baho; a screen-printing business called Dutete; a jewelry-making cooperative called Ejo Hazaza; and a microloan program for young mothers.

My day-to-day work consisted of visiting each of the cooperatives and participating in their meetings, followed by team meetings with the Manos staff. Although I was originally hired to start work on Manos’ monitoring and evaluation of its programs, it quickly became clear that the need of the organization was improved general management. I had to be responsive to the needs of the organization, and although I wanted to test my newly-minted monitoring and evaluation skills, I realized that it would be a far more impactful contribution to help the team with its daily management and putting in place systems and processes. I spent a lot of my time conducting trainings with the team—on business plan creation, so they could work better with the cooperatives; on reporting; and on using Excel. I created a new reporting structure for the Manos team to use and trained them on how to fill out and submit reports.

KigaliLiving and working in Kigali was a mixed experience for me.  It was my first time living in a country where I was absolutely unable to communicate with most people around me, and before this summer, I definitely underestimated the impact this would have on me.  Being unable to communicate with the women we worked with was incredibly frustrating, as I always had to request translation or else be left out of the conversation.  It made me deeply uncomfortable, and it has made me question the effectiveness of working in a country for which I have no local language or context skills.  It will make me think twice about future career decisions, and tread carefully and think through my own assumptions before embarking on a career living or working in an environment where I do not speak the language.

Aside from the personal growth and thoughts about how I would like to shape my career, I had the opportunity to see a lot of the country.  I hiked up a volcano to see a crater lake at the top, and went on my first African safari at Akagera National Park.  The country was phenomenally beautiful, with the bus rides being more than enough of a treat to justify a disappointing destination, had there actually been one!

I was also very interested to see how Rwanda is changing its national image from a country scarred by genocide, to one that is increasingly a tourist and investment destination.  The process of building this new identity while remembering and memorializing the genocide is a tricky balance, and one that I am curious to learn more about.

Professionally and personally, this summer in Rwanda has helped me solidify how I want to build my life and career post Fletcher — it was a perfect way to tie together my first and second year at Fletcher.

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At the Admissions Office, we LVE our student interns.  While we all do our share of application updating, email answering, mail opening, etc., we would need to do ever so much more of it if our interns weren’t here to help.  Plus, they connect us to the wider student community, so that we’re not the last people at Fletcher to hear what’s going on!  But, as much as we appreciate out student staffers, they’re even more important to our applicants.  Most likely, the person answering the phone when you call, or your email when you write, is a current Fletcher student.  Thus, without further explanation, let’s have them introduce themselves, so you’ll know who is running the show in the Admissions back office.

AshleyAshley: Hello future Fletcherites!  I am a first-year MALD student, pursuing International Business Relations and a self-designed Field of Study.  Building on undergraduate degrees in both international affairs and photography, I am exploring the strategic use and impact of visual communication tools (i.e. photo and video) in the global context.  This has broad application across a variety of sectors and initiatives, all of which I happily have the opportunity to tap into here on campus.  For instance, I recently joined Fletcher’s oldest student-run foreign policy journal, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, and am also engaged with groups such as Tech@Fletcher and the International Business Club.

Prior to arriving in Medford/Somerville, I spent four and a half years in Washington, DC, with a non-profit organization focused on global leadership and U.S. public diplomacy.  I worked primarily with the external affairs team on public programming, fundraising, and communications.  I also had the opportunity to help develop strategic initiatives with the European Union, India, and Turkey.  Then and now, I love travel, film, and tennis.  I look forward to connecting with you and sharing the latest news from Fletcher!

AuyonAuyon: Hi!  I am a first-year MIB student concentrating on Strategic Management and International Consultancy as well as International Business and Economic Law.  I am from Dhaka, Bangladesh and grew up there before completing my undergraduate studies in economics at Macalester College — an institution also known for its international focus — in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I also lived in Manchester, UK for five years when I was a child.

After completing my bachelor’s in 2008, I moved back to Bangladesh where I started working at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector division of the World Bank Group, for nearly five years.  I worked in the Access to Finance department and my responsibilities involved managing private sector development projects in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and Australia for clients that included commercial banks, non-banking financial institutions, microfinance institutions, and regulatory authorities.  This experience provided me with invaluable skills in budget analysis and management, project management, client relationship management, drafting fund-raising proposals with international donors and liaising with IFC’s global product experts.

Prior to joining Fletcher, I spent several months traveling in Malaysia, Singapore, and Europe and playing music in Bangladesh.  I also worked for a year at a research university where I conducted research on enterprise and societal development in Bangladesh.

Aside from classes at Fletcher, I enjoy spending time with my wife, cooking, playing soccer with the Fletcher Fútbol club and exploring the Boston area.

DavidDavid: Hi everyone!  I am a second-year MALD focusing on Democratization and Human Security.  This is my second year working in the Admissions Office.  I am particularly interested in transitional governments, former communist countries, and authoritarianism.  I am a first-generation American, born and raised in Wheaton, IL.  I attended DePauw University for my undergraduate studies and majored in political science and Spanish.  Prior to Fletcher, I taught English in the Czech Republic as part of my Fulbright Grant, organized service immersion trips to Latin America, and worked for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  I spent this past summer working in the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, and I hope to join the Foreign Service after Fletcher.

During my first year at Fletcher, I was a researcher on a joint Fletcher-ICRC study on conflict migration in the Sahel, volunteered with the Tufts Refugee Assistance program, and I am currently one of the co-presidents of the European Club.  Outside the classroom, I love hanging out with other Fletcher students, exploring Boston, and venturing out to find new restaurants and breweries in the area.  I look forward to hearing from you in the Admissions Office this year!

DristyDristy: Namaste!  I am a first-year MALD student from Kathmandu, Nepal.  I received an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the American West in New Mexico, and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont with a major in psychology and double minor in economics and Spanish.  As a native of a developing country, I have always been very interested in understanding and tackling the challenges of development.  After my undergrad, I spent a few years working for various actors in international development in areas ranging from entrepreneurship, to local governance, social accountability, social protection, and capacity building.  Immediately before coming to Fletcher, I worked for AmeriCares, an emergency response and global health international organization, helping them set up in Nepal and supporting their efforts in response to the massive earthquakes that devastated the country in April.  At Fletcher, I am focusing on International Development, and Public and NGO Management.  I love dancing and plan on participating in as many cultural shows as possible in my time at Fletcher.

I am excited to be a part of this team at the Office of Admissions and look forward to answering any questions you may have, to help you navigate through the graduate school research and application process.

Monica: Hello there!  I am a second-year MALD student focusing on International Security Studies and International Negotiation/ Conflict Resolution, with a particular interest in European Affairs.  Originally from Ecuador, I was raised in Florida and attended Florida International University, where I majored in public relations and minored in international studies, a minor I completed abroad at the Tianjin University of Commerce in China.  Prior to my studies at Fletcher, I worked for U.S. Southern Command, a military regional combatant command, as a Public Private Coordinator in the Joint-9 Partnering Directorate.  I also spent a year in South Korea teaching English and tutoring university students in the Spanish language.

This past summer, I was in Washington, DC working for the European Parliament Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress, covering their defense and security portfolio.  Outside of the classroom, I enjoy being involved and staying active in the Fletcher community.  I am one of the co-presidents of the European Club and value the opportunity of playing an active role at the Office of Admissions — first as a volunteer student interviewer and now as an Admissions Intern.  I look forward to meeting you all soon and hopefully welcoming you to the Fletcher community!

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Launching the Student Stories feature for 2015-16 is second-year MIB student, Alex, who is reporting on his summer internship in the Boston area.

Alex SFletcher is not the type of school where everyone hopes to spend the summer as a consultant or banker in New York.  Ask a dozen people here what they did for their summer internship, and I bet you will get a dozen completely different answers.  With people scattered across the world doing everything under the sun, it would be quite difficult for me to describe the average Fletcher internship.  Instead, I can at least provide you with one data point by telling you about my summer, spent in the most unlikely of places for a Fletcher student: Boston.

My internship was with a rapidly growing solar energy project development company in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, which I secured with the help of one of my professors.  I worked to build out their “Community Solar” offering, which is the hot new thing in the industry: instead of mounting panels on their roofs, anyone can subscribe to centralized solar installations, effectively opening up the market for the 80% of people who could not go solar previously.  As you may remember from earlier blog posts, I am interested in innovative business models and financing mechanisms for clean energy infrastructure, so this was right up my alley.  Furthermore, working on the development side provided a good experiential addition to my internship with the wind energy private equity firm last semester; now I know both the money side and the project side of the deal.

Actually getting to build out a new product offering, with all the requisite business processes, was a great opportunity as well.  In my previous role as a strategy consultant, I was generally looking at the bigger picture instead of tackling all the nitty-gritty pieces of building something new.  It was an eye-opening experience, which brought some concreteness to my thinking.

The size of the company was another aspect I enjoyed: at 45 employees, it was much smaller than Monitor Deloitte and much bigger than some of the start-ups I have worked with in the past.  At this size, a company has the expertise and basic processes in place, but does not yet have the silos that beset many larger organizations.  I felt empowered to reach across the organization, make decisions, and execute as I saw fit, which I greatly enjoyed.  Also, I was excited to be surrounded by experts in all aspects of building our energy sources of the future.

Internship mapSo, while I have to admit I was jealous at first of all my friends jetting off to cool and exotic places for their summers, I ended up being happy that I kept mine local.  One of the great perks was my commute, which included biking along charming Charles Street in Beacon Hill, through the verdant Public Gardens, and then down bustling Newbury Street in Back Bay.  I feel lucky that I was one of the few who got to stay in Boston, and appreciate the opportunities and beauty of the great city in which we live.

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One of my favorite aspects of overseeing the Fletcher Admissions Blog is working with students and alumni to share their stories with future students/alumni.  I’m happy to say that tomorrow’s post will be from one of our returning Student Stories writers, Alex.  This is the fourth year of the Student Stories feature and applicants tell me that reading about the student writers’ paths is especially helpful as they chart their own.

My instructions for the Student Stories writers are relatively loose.  They agree to write four posts each year, divided roughly into the two semesters (though some slipping into the winter or summer break is o.k.).  Whatever topics are interesting or important to them are fine with me, too.  I should note that the student writers are volunteers, and I hugely appreciate the time and effort they put into their writing.

I’m still working with the new student volunteers, but the three returning students, Ali, Alex, and Aditi have all agreed to keep writing this year.  Ali is an MIB student who applied to Fletcher through the Map Your Future pathway.  Alex is also an MIB student, and Aditi is a MALD student, originally from India.  Tomorrow, Alex will share details from his summer internship.

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