Currently viewing the tag: "Alex"
Three student bloggers will graduate on Sunday, Alex, Aditi, and Ali. They’ve all been particularly great to work with and I’ll miss them! You can expect to see their words of farewell in the coming weeks, after they have graduated and had a chance to process their experience. For today, we have Alex’s Annotated Curriculum for his two years in the MIB program.
Strategy Consultant, Monitor Deloitte in Washington, DC
General Manager, Valsek Nutritional Foods in Addis Ababa
Fields of Study
International Energy Studies (self-designed Field of Study)
International Finance and Banking
The PPA Crutch: The Implications of Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements in New England (Advisor: Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher)
Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Develop business models and financing mechanisms to bring renewable energy to scale in new markets
Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Financial Statement Management
Strategic Management (½ credit, Summer pre-session)
The Arts of Communication
Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy
Managing Operations in Global Companies: How the World’s Best Companies Operate (Audit)
My first semester was all about laying the groundwork for a meaningful time at Fletcher. The core MIB classes, especially Finance, helped our cohort develop the key business skills necessary to be successful at Fletcher and beyond. Perhaps more importantly, taking a few classes as a group really brought the MIB class together, which has been invaluable both academically and personally. I also greatly enjoyed my elective classes like Communication and Clean Energy Policy, as mentioned in previous posts, and the professors have turned into great mentors over time.
International Business Strategy & Operations
Political Economy & Business of the EU
Engineering, Economics, and Regulation of the Electric Power Sector (at MIT)
Global Private Equity: From Money In to Money Out (Audit)
In my second semester, I finished up my MIB requirements and started to delve deeper into my energy concentration. My business classes felt very much like B-School, in terms of the content they covered and the hard skills they built, with one big difference: I was taking them at an international affairs school. As such, my professors and classmates brought an incredible depth and breadth of international experience to bear, and the policy context was always discussed. I also took an enlightening Electric Power Sector class with a bunch of engineers at MIT, which really got me into the nitty-gritty details of how power systems work. Also, Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy sponsored me to go to an energy conference at which I was able to wrangle an internship during the semester at Commonwealth Bay, a wind-energy private equity firm, where I performed market analysis and due diligence on wind projects.
One of my professors introduced me to BlueWave Renewables, a solar-energy developer, where I got an exciting opportunity to apply what I had been learning in my classes and to gain further exposure to the thriving cleantech ecosystem in Boston. As discussed in my previous post, I helped build out a platform for community solar, a new business model designed to bring solar to the three quarters of Americans who cannot own their own solar panels. Thanks to my business and energy classes, I was able to hit the ground running and make an impact in a short period of time.
International Business Transactions
Large Investment and International Project Finance
Petroleum in the Global Economy
Leadership: Building Teams, Organizations, and Shaping Your Path
The Art and Science of Statecraft
The third semester was my first opportunity to truly cast a wide net across the amazing diversity of classes offered at Fletcher. International Business Transactions covered topics such as contract law, which, although it may sound dry, is where “the rubber hits the road” in business; I discovered this when I was starting a business in Ethiopia, and it is one of the reasons I decided to come to Fletcher. Project Finance and Petroleum complemented each other very well, and contributed to my Field of Study requirements. Leadership, which was taught by a great professor on loan from the Harvard Business School, provided a valuable soft-skill counterpoint to more analytical courses I had taken so far. Finally, Statecraft was an interesting foray into the mental models of one of our well-known professors, renowned equally for his colorful analogies and for his direct language. On top of all this, I also worked with the wonderful Fletcher Social Investment Group to lead a team of classmates on a consulting engagement for EverVest, a renewable energy financial analysis software startup.
Energy, Entrepreneurship, and Finance
International Energy Policy
Political Economy and Business Context of Latin America
International Financial Management
Management, Finance, and Regulation of Public Infrastructure in Developing Countries (at Harvard)
My fourth and final semester has been great because the foundation I have built up over the last year and a half has enabled me to engage with the material in a way I could not have done before. My two energy classes are a nice culmination to the thrust of my studies here, and indeed they provide timely input as I wrap up my thesis for the capstone requirement. International Financial Management, affectionately dubbed “Jacques Deux” after the French-American professor who has taught a notorious regimen of finance classes for decades, proved to be as difficult and enlightening as promised. The Infrastructure class at the Harvard Kennedy School has provided another good perspective on the matter, and a chance to meet new like-minded people. Finally, I have supplemented my studies by conducting energy policy research for a Fletcher alumnus at EnergySage, an online marketplace for solar.
I am excited by my prospects post-Fletcher, but know that I will be sad to leave this place. Throughout my two years here, I have had the pleasure to work with supportive professors and a diverse yet cohesive set of classmates. As demonstrated above, Fletcher has also consistently opened doors for me, both at other top-tier schools and at cool companies. I know I will look back fondly on my time here, and now understand more and more why the Fletcher community is so strong.
Fletcher 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.
So, 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.
Yesterday’s post may have been my last word on Commencement for 2015, but it isn’t the last word on the lead-up to the event. That will come from Alex who, as a continuing student, would nonetheless have been welcomed for the Dis-Orientation activities organized by the graduating class. Dis-Orientation originated several years ago as the counter-point to the academic-year-starting Orientation program.
Shortly after the year’s last class was attended, the last final exam taken, and the last term paper handed in, it was time for “Dis-O.” As any end of term should be celebrated, Fletcher’s time-honored Dis-Orientation is a week of fun activities, great parties, and even some light “vandalism.”
In an impressive feat of organization, students planned dozens of events spread over the week following the end of the semester; this year there were 45 activities over seven days. These events ranged from movie screenings in Fletcher’s main auditorium, to daylong trips to the beach on Martha’s Vineyard and the battlefields of Lexington and Concord. Athletic activities were also included, such as a softball game and a MALD vs. MIB cricket match, both of which were guaranteed to be a cultural experience for many of the players. Of course, a couple of parties were also in order, ranging from traditional celebrations in one of Fletcher’s “color houses” (e.g., the green house, yellow house, or “Casablanca,” that several students share) to a Hawaiian luau (complete with a dunk tank, of course). Finally, following the Tufts tradition of painting the cannon located in the center of campus, students sneakily painted it a blazing Fletcher-orange in the dark of night. They were disappointed, however, to find it painted over by other “vandals” within hours.
Not only is Dis-O a great way to celebrate the culmination of a successful year with our friends and classmates, I find it to be a fitting representation of what exactly is special about Fletcher’s culture. First, due to The Fletcher School’s long history, traditions like Dis-O (and even individual events within it) have turned into institutions, serving to connect Fletcher students across generations. Second, events like these do not plan themselves, but instead are a product of a student body with impressive leadership capabilities and a tremendous commitment to their fellow classmates. Additionally, the wide range of events demonstrates the diversity of interests across the student body, which has been a wonderful source of mind-opening experiences throughout the year. Finally, Dis-O evinces Fletcher students’ ability to balance work and fun: I bet you would have been just as likely to find people at the cricket match discussing India’s clean energy policy as you would to find them asking what exactly a “wicket” is.
Whether traditions such as Dis-O are the cause or the result of the strong community here, I do not know. Probably a little bit of both. What I do know, however, is that few other schools are as tightly knit as Fletcher, and that I cannot wait to come back next semester.
I always prefer sharing a student perspective on Fletcher life, rather than writing myself. Today I’m sharing a post Alex sent along last week about the new Strategic Plan. When I say “new,” I mean newly completed. It has been in the works for more than a year. Let’s let Alex tell you about it.
Luckily, the administration is thinking a little bit more long-term, and has recently developed a new Strategic Plan for The Fletcher School: To Know the World. The five-year plan’s vision is to go even further to make Fletcher the “premier institution for preparing a highly selective and diverse network of global leaders, whose influence is felt across the public, private and non-profit sectors.”
The plan includes four overarching, mutually reinforcing objectives:
- Relevance: enhance professional and academic preparation of students as problem solvers, future leaders and agents of change;
- Reputation: bolster the School’s reputation by increasing research productivity and impact on decision makers;
- Resources: ensure a robust and more diversified revenue stream to support pursuit of School’s mission;
- “Right Stuff”: maintain a sustainable, diverse and high-quality student body across all our degree programs.
These objectives are supported with myriad initiatives, from strengthening research centers and enabling professors to do more research, to upgrading facilities and leveraging technology to enhance learning. I would highly recommend looking through the plan, to see where Fletcher will be going in the next couple of years.
Of course, I was most curious about what the immediate impacts of the plan will be for current, admitted, and prospective students. How will Fletcher actually be different in the Fall of 2015? So I went right to the source, and met with Dean Stavridis.
The Dean mentioned a number of exciting plans, but a couple stood out. The administration is in the process of hiring a professor with expertise in cyber, to help keep Fletcher on the cutting edge of this growing field. They are also building a television studio on site to help facilitate media appearances by the faculty (Dean Stavridis, alone, has done over 160 in the last 12 months!) and for use in classes such as The Arts of Communication (one of my favorite last semester). Finally, one of the most exciting plans in the works is establishing a strategic partnership with a globally-focused think tank in Washington D.C.; this will provide an opportunity to collaborate on research, participate in exchange programs, obtain internships, and in general serve as a home base for Fletcher in the nation’s capital.
At a school known for producing exceptional strategic thinkers, it is fitting that Fletcher should have such a stellar Strategic Plan. I look forward to seeing it in action.
My first semester at The Fletcher School was quite an experience: immersing myself in my business and energy classes, getting to know my accomplished and passionate classmates, and participating in events with Nobel laureates.
First and foremost, I have been struck by the immediate and tangible benefits of being a part of such a small, tightly knit school. Let me give you a couple examples of these benefits from my experience so far:
Small Classes, Meaningful Discussions
Many of my classes were quite small, facilitating open and deep discussions, as well as fostering much more meaningful relationships with professors.
One example was my Managing the Global Corporation course taught by Prof. Thoman, F67, whose accomplishments and accolades include being the CEO of Xerox and Nabisco, the CFO of IBM, and a recipient of the French Legion d’Honneur. Instead of just teaching us analytical frameworks pulled from textbooks or reviewing business cases of other people’s experiences, Prof. Thoman helped us understand how decisions are actually made in the C-suite, based on examples from his own extraordinary career. This class only had a dozen students.
Another example was my Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy class taught by Prof. Kates-Garnick, F84, who was the Undersecretary of Energy for Massachusetts. As Massachusetts has one of the most advanced and successful clean energy policies in the U.S., Prof. Kates-Garnick is precisely the type of person you want to learn about energy policy from. Instead of simply discussing theoretical policies, she put us in the decision-maker’s seat and had us consider the tough trade-offs associated with different options. This class only had seven students.
The opportunity to take courses sitting around such a small table with industry forerunners and policy makers with real-world experience reaffirmed that this school is not just teaching us theory; Fletcher truly is a school for practitioners, taught by practitioners.
Exclusive Conferences, Valuable Insights
As part of this focus on staying connected to the real world outside the halls of academia, Fletcher encourages us to attend the plethora of conferences hosted in Boston. A great thing about Fletcher, however, is that it can help you get into the ones that actually matter.
For example, Prof. Kates-Garnick invited me to a small private conference held jointly by The Fletcher School and the Harvard Kennedy School for one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world. The meeting, attended by the top energy minds of the two schools and the top executives of this global firm, was an eye-opening experience on how corporations inform and conduct their highest-level strategic planning process. I was impressed by the executives’ grasp of international affairs (it came as little surprise that some were Fletcher graduates), and was reminded of the value of the Master of International Business (MIB) degree I am pursuing.
I was also able to attend a cleantech conference with the leading businessmen and women in Boston thanks to a generous grant from Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy. Just about every other person at the conference was a president or CEO, while I was one of only three students able to attend, due to the cost. Access to the event proved invaluable, however, both in terms of the content of the panel discussions and the contacts I established; I left with an internship for the next semester doing research for a private equity fund acquiring wind farms across North America.
Not only are these types of conferences interesting, they provide access to the fields students are interested in, and to the people who shape those fields. If it had not been for Fletcher, I would not have been able to attend, or even have heard of, these conferences.
Fletcher is a small school that delivers monumental output. The professors and events students have access to are but a couple of the benefits of attending a small school. It is these types of opportunities that ensures that students are at the leading edge of their fields, and that The Fletcher School stays at the forefront of the world’s most pressing issues.
Next up among our first-year student bloggers is Alex, who introduces himself here. He has spent eight years abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from The College of William and Mary.
Hi everyone, my name is Alex Schulte, and I look forward to contributing to the Fletcher Admissions Blog during my next two years here. Let me tell you a little bit about myself, and why I’m so excited to be at Fletcher.
My passion is finding creative solutions to difficult problems. Specifically, I am interested in figuring out how to bring clean energy technology to commercial scale in order to help address three of the biggest and broadest issues we face today: 1) running our economy more efficiently and productively; 2) easing geopolitical tensions that arise from securing and allocating conventional energy resources; and 3) maintaining a sustainable environment for future generations. I believe that clean technology represents one of the 21st century’s greatest opportunities to create a more prosperous and inclusive world.
The energy sector is complex and global, and requires a very firm grasp of both international business and policy. Before Fletcher, I was already working to develop the experience and skills necessary to operate effectively in this area, including:
- Consulting at Monitor Deloitte for emerging-market and defense clients, which exposed me to world-class strategic planning and data analysis skills.
- Managing the start-up of a multi-million dollar nutritional food production business in Ethiopia, which taught me the tactical side of entrepreneurship in a difficult environment.
- Working at a Chinese nuclear energy joint venture in Beijing, which gave me experience analyzing a novel clean energy technology and its competitive situation.
I learned a lot from these experiences. Most importantly, I discovered that I still have a lot to learn. This is why I am excited to be starting at The Fletcher School’s Master of International Business (MIB) program, focusing on finance and energy.
On the finance side, I recognized my need for further education in financial matters when I was confronted with the challenge of securing a $5 million loan for my business in Ethiopia. Since starting at Fletcher, I have already learned concepts in my Corporate Finance class that are directly applicable to this experience. Furthermore, I look forward to learning even more from the International Financial Management and International Business Transactions classes I will take next semester.
On the energy side, I realized that a more structured and comprehensive understanding of the energy landscape would have been useful when I was conducting market analyses for the Chinese nuclear energy firm. The insights I have gained from my Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy class are invaluable, and I look forward to taking International Energy Policy next semester. Already, the MIB program has provided me with the broader contextual intelligence that I need, and the intellectual rigor that I crave, to be successful in a sector as complex as energy.
Possibly even more important than the content of my education are the relationships I am forming. At Fletcher, I am surrounded by a community of peers and professors who are also interested in the intersection of business and international affairs, and crosscutting solutions to solving global problems. I am honored and excited to have joined the Fletcher community, and to attend one of the foremost international affairs schools in the world. I look forward to taking you with me on my journey through the MIB program.
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