Currently viewing the tag: "MIB"

In a week when much of my time has been dedicated to newly admitted students, I’d like to turn to one of our 2011 graduates.  Imad Ahmed arrived at Fletcher with a varied set of experiences behind him during the five years after he had completed his undergraduate degree.  While in the MIB program at Fletcher, Imad pursued an exchange semester in Paris, and five years out, he’s continuing his education.

My Fletcher MIB taught me International Finance and International Business and Economic and Law.  Though I had read economics for my undergrad degree at University of California, Berkeley, my five years prior to Fletcher had nothing to do with either of these fields.  I co-ran a successful fundraising office for an unsuccessful U.S. presidential campaign in 2004, documented national and provincial campaigns to encourage women to run for office in Pakistan in 2005, worked as a journalist, and finally worked as an entrepreneur in London, seeking to create jobs in Pakistan.

After Fletcher and my semester at HEC Paris, I returned to London to work in frontier market private equity.  I was excited about the jobs we would and did create.  I was less excited about extracting value from negotiating hard against an African parastatal.  The Rwandan government then recruited me to assist them in negotiating infrastructure with private developers, which I did for four years, as well as serve as a Special Policy Advisor to their Secretary to the Treasury.  I served competently, in large thanks to my Fletcher education and subsequent investment associate training.  Also in large part due to Fletcher, I was never short of friends in Kigali, where I proudly held our flag and congregated our community.  I met 100 Fletcher classmates (sometimes while out dancing after midnight!), student interns and alumni (sometimes on the opposite side of the negotiating table!).

With Fletcher friends Sophia Dawkins and Bart Smit Duijzentkunst for the weekend. All smiles after a self-rescue mission when their kayak disastrously started sinking into Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Bart is an Associate Legal Officer at the UN and Sophia is now pursuing a PhD in political science at Yale.

Besides providing me with new skills and networks, Fletcher reoriented my mindset.  The uber-travelled student body motivated me to double the countries I’d lived in, and to add a fourth continent to match the class average. (With six countries to my name now that I’m five years out, I might have fallen behind!)

The mature students at Fletcher doing their second master’s degrees brought rich tales and richer philosophies.  One of them started work life as a chef, before becoming an international banker.  His words about periodically returning to school to sharpen one’s toolkit and to reflect remained with me, and allowed me to think of my own return later.  (He himself is now a research director and PhD student at Fletcher.)

The consistent theme to my career has been that I’ve operated as a critical idealist, finding gaps in the value of my work.  Following on from my work in Rwanda, I am now pursuing a PhD at University College London.  I am assessing how governments can prioritize infrastructure projects for the purpose of most effectively reducing rural poverty.

Remarking at the Financial Times Africa Infrastructure Summit on how infrastructure provides one of the more concrete paths to development.

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Today I’m happy to share a post from Taji, a first-year MIB student who wanted to contribute to the blog.  I enthusiastically agreed!  I always like to add an extra student voice, and Taji is writing about a special aspect of his experience — that students from Japan in the Boston area are in good company.

Hi everyone!  My name is Daiki Tajima (although most of my friends call me “Taji”) and I am a first-year Master of International Business (MIB) student from Japan.  I would like to share my experience as a Japanese student at Fletcher and in the Boston area.  Being a Japanese student at Fletcher has been very fruitful for me and I would like more Japanese students to come to Fletcher for their graduate studies.

Visiting the orphanage in Mongolia.

Let me tell you about my journey to Fletcher.  As an undergraduate, I participated in a study tour to Mongolia, which included visits to some orphanages.  During a tour, I met an orphan called Bayaraa.  He lost his mother to disease and his father couldn’t care for him.  None of his relatives took him in and he finally came to the orphanage.  I felt angry about this unfairness, but it inspired me to choose international development as my future career.  I initially pursued work in the non-profit sector, but then concluded that business can make a bigger impact.

For two years after my graduation from the University of Tokyo, I worked in Tokyo for Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.  Then I moved to an Indian consulting firm called Corporate Catalyst India, where I liaised between Japanese clients and Indian staff inside the company.  During my three-year stay in India, I was selected as an official coordinator for a Japanese government-related organization, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), where I promoted business matching between Indian SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and Japanese SMEs.  Based on those experiences, I decided to study international development through business, and that brought me to the Fletcher MIB program, which is designed like a dual MBA and international affairs degree, a perfect fit for my academic interests.

With more than a semester already passed since I enrolled at Fletcher, I would strongly say that studying here has been even better than I expected.  There are several reasons for this, but I will mention three that especially affect Japanese students.

First of all, there are many Japanese students at Fletcher, and they support me in various ways.  In 2016, 22 Japanese students entered the Fletcher School with many different backgrounds, including coming from the Japanese government, military, and private companies.  During a summer course that helped some new students gain academic skills in English, I had a study group with Japanese students where everyone created presentations to share their backgrounds before coming to Fletcher.  It was eye-opening for me to hear the stories of government and military work, since I am from the private sector.  During the first semester, I also joined study groups with Japanese students to help us keep up with fast-paced courses.  The Japanese students at Fletcher have been so cooperative and hardworking, and we encourage each other to succeed.

Second, there are plenty of opportunities for extracurricular activities specifically focusing on Japan.  At Fletcher, there is a Japan Club, which hosts events related to Japan, U.S.-Japan relations, and East Asia.  The club also hosts weekly Japanese Tables at Mugar Café, where students gather to speak/learn Japanese or to discuss topics related to Japan.

In addition, for Fletcher’s Asia Night event, many Japanese students, along with Korean, Taiwanese, American, and Palestinian students, performed “Soranbushi,” a Japanese traditional dance.  “Soranbushi” is originally a dance for fishermen in the northern part of Japan, and Japanese students not only taught the dance but also the backgrounds of each movement (for example pulling the fish net) of the dance.  Further, before the actual performance, there was a video showing the lives of Japanese fishermen, in order to promote cultural understanding.  Performing a Japanese traditional dance with different countries’ students was quite an exciting moment and we got a big round of applause after the performance, which made me feel very emotional.

Finally, in the Boston area, there are lots of Japanese restaurants and some grocery stores that offer foods imported from Japan so I don’t miss my home country’s foods.  One of my favorite Japanese restaurants is “Yume Wo Katare” at Porter Square, not far from campus, which serves ramen noodles with pork broth soup.  “Yume Wo Katare” is a unique restaurant, whose name means “Share Your Dreams.”  Customers have the option to stand up and share their dreams with everyone after eating their ramen noodles.  I was surprised to see that so many of the restaurant’s customers are American, and many people shared dreams when I went there.  I also shared my dream and said, “I would like to contribute to poverty reduction!!”  I hope to achieve my dream through classes, student clubs, networking, and other activities at Fletcher.

Being a Japanese student at Fletcher and in the Boston area has been very valuable for me.  I am now writing about my experiences at Fletcher in a blog in Japanese.  In addition to my own story, I am sharing personal interviews with international students from Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, India and other countries in order to show the diversity of Fletcher’s student body.

Since English is not my mother tongue, writing a blog post in English is quite difficult for me.  However, I would like to keep sharing my experiences at Fletcher with English language readers.  At the same time, I will also keep providing updates on my Fletcher days in my blog for Japanese readers.

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With a semester in their rear-view mirrors, the first-year Student Stories writers are ready to reflect on fall 2016 at Fletcher.  Today, Adi wraps up his first months of graduate study and tells us about the rapid evolution of his career objectives.

Adi, panel2As the clock in Mugar 200 hit 11:30 and I submitted my final exam for Accounting, a realization hit my mind as well: I did it!  My first semester of graduate school was done.  I thought it was special that I began the semester in that exact same classroom.  I reflected back to that first day of my pre-session course in August, a wide-eyed new graduate student attempting to readjust to student life.  I had introduced myself to my classmates as an Indonesian, three years out of undergraduate, looking to identify new ways that the private sector can be involved in development beyond the typical corporate social responsibility programs.  Thinking back to that August day, I also saw how my professional dreams have changed and evolved throughout those five months.

Within the first week of my pre-session, I remember attending two discussion talks by two different faculty members at Fletcher, Professor Kim Wilson and Professor Patrick Schena.  Professor Wilson talked about financial inclusion through the lens of her research into how underserved communities in Jordan were enabled by money-transfer technologies, allowing them to take part in the market economy cycle.  Listening to this talk, I was intrigued by the idea and started thinking about the possibility of bringing the financial inclusion model back to Indonesia after I finish my Fletcher education (or, if the model already exists, to find ways to further develop it).  Here, my interest had already evolved beyond my first-day introduction.  I thought about how I was not attached to the idea of the private sector being involved in development.  I was more interested in looking at a private-sector model being utilized in the development setting.  This is where my interest in Professor Wilson’s talk originated.  Financial inclusion as an way to provide a platform for the targeted community to obtain capital resources, as opposed to simply giving them development aid, is a much more sustainable model.

A couple of days later I attended Professor Schena’s talk on the sovereign wealth fund (SWF) model.  Using the example of the Norwegian SWF, Professor Schena discussed how the Norwegian government’s annual budget for national spending was significantly affected by the return the SWF generated that year.  During this discussion, he introduced the idea of impact investing.  A relatively new idea, impact investing has been gaining traction within the investment management sphere.  More and more investment managers are pressured by their investors to allocate a significant portion of their portfolio to securities that have social impact.  Prior to Fletcher, I had no exposure to or understanding of the investment management space, let alone impact investing.  Nonetheless, I found the idea to be fascinating.  Thus, after this talk, I thought about how to incorporate impact investing into my career aspirations.  Understanding that I would first need to be familiar with investment management before jumping into impact investing, I ended up enrolling in Professor Schena’s Global Investment Management class.

Adi, batikOrientation came and went, and the fall semester began.  I met my new classmates, both first years and second years, exchanging information on what we did before Fletcher as well as what we wanted to do after graduation.  Despite the wide range of interests and backgrounds, I noticed that most Fletcher students wanted to have an impact, be it through non-profits, diplomacy, government, international organizations, entrepreneurship, or the private sector.  It was thus fascinating to hear about different ways that impact can be created.  Personally, I collected these ideas to continue to clarify my personal goals, as well as to see which ideas I could bring back and implement in Indonesia.  Nonetheless, for a while during the semester, my career planning continued to focus on finding ways to implement financial inclusion (through financial technology) and impact investing in the development context.  Then I talked to Professor Alnoor Ebrahim.

Professor Ebrahim introduced me to the idea of social impact bonds.  As a professor of social change, Professor Ebrahim was very familiar with the idea of a market approach to development, as well as the evolution of public-private partnership models.  At that point in the semester, I was pretty deep into my Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Investment Management classes, and I was familiar with bonds.  Nonetheless, I had never heard of the social impact bond model.  As it turns out, it was a model that brought together non-profits, government, and corporations (in the form of investors).  The idea was that non-profits would run a program to answer a particular social need in the society.  This program would be attached to a bond with a set of metrics defining what constitutes success.  An investor would purchase this bond, and should the program reach its success metric, the investor would be paid interest by the government.  Prior to Fletcher, my work was building partnerships between non-profits, governments agencies, and corporations in the health sector in Indonesia.  Thus, this social impact bond model was thoroughly fascinating to me.  The way I thought about my career developed again.  This model was how I would combine my developing interest in financial inclusion with impact investing.  This was the model that I was going to research further to see if it could be implemented in Indonesia.

Looking back, my first five months at Fletcher have been amazing.  The courses, the student organizations, the activities, and the discussions have provided me with incredible insights into what is possible out there.  I came into Fletcher thinking I had a solid grasp of what I wanted to do after graduation.  Yet, as I conclude the winter break at the end of my first semester, I have realized how much my goals have been evolving.  With every new discussion with a professor, lunch talk with a classmate, or simply another session for a required course such as Corporate Finance, I have learned new specific ways my goals can be adjusted.  I am extremely happy that I had this much needed winter break, following the enormous effort it took to complete the first semester.  Nonetheless, seeing how much my aspirations have evolved in these first five months, I personally cannot wait to see what the next three semesters at Fletcher will have to offer.

Adi, class

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Today, let’s meet Adi, a first-year student in the MIB program who will be writing for the Student Stories feature during his two years at Fletcher.  Adi has roots in both the U.S. and Indonesia and has spent long stretches of time in each.

Adi, 2To be honest, I had never considered Fletcher as my destination for graduate school.  I had barely heard of Fletcher in the social circles I normally operate around.  And yet, here I am, three months into my academic journey as a Master of International Business (MIB) candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and it could not have been any better.

I left my previous job in Indonesia looking for new ways I could bridge the private sector’s involvement in development efforts, beyond the usual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) donations.  Thus, in choosing my graduate school program, I looked into either a Master of Public Policy, where I could design the regulatory environment for business involvement, or a Master of Business Administration, diving right into the innovation system within corporate organizations.  I was even considering a joint MBA-MPP degree.  In the MIB at Fletcher, I found the ability to do both, and so much more.  My daily classes are filled with learning as much about corporate financing and risk of investments as about the political risk of being in a foreign environment.  I haven’t even gotten to the full range of courses that Fletcher has to offer.

MIB pool

The 2018 MIB class

I have attempted to immerse myself in the Fletcher spirit by joining the Fletcher Social Impact Group, advising a start-up team with their market entry strategy into Boston.  I am organizing two separate conferences scheduled for the beginning of 2017, with themes from innovations in international affairs to populism as a political risk.  And, by attending lectures and events, I have interacted with senior managers from Boeing, Deloitte, GAP, and BCG, as well start-up founders.  Sometimes, there are so many events happening that I simply cannot decide which I wish to attend.  The relatively small but tight-knit community, the flexibility of the curriculum, and the wealth of event options have made the past three months very exciting, stressful, and colorful, all at the same time.

All of this excitement has made me wonder, as I reflect back to how I managed to get here: how had I never heard about Fletcher before I actually started applying?  At first, I thought it was a lack of outreach from the School in Indonesia.  Then, I looked at the profile of Indonesian alumni, and I saw former ministers of foreign affairs, heads of national planning, and directors from multi-national banks.  I realized, there must be a Fletcher presence in Indonesia, and a pretty strong one at that.  The alumni network in Indonesia, though small, actually holds key positions and are very influential.  And the best part is that they, too, are proudly part of the Fletcher community.

The strength of the alumni network amazes me.  I have heard about how most universities take pride in the diversity and success of their alumni, but I had never before heard, let alone experienced, how strong this alumni connection can be.  Email any Fletcher graduate whose background you might be interested in, and you will very likely get a quick reply asking how they can help.  In the three months I have been here, I probably have reached out to more than 50 alumni, and they all have responded, even if we needed to work around their schedules.  And the more I am embedded in this community, the more I realize that this culture is not exclusive to alumni, but also current students, staff, and the faculty.

Indonesian students

With Indonesian friends, including one other Fletcher student.

Quite simply, I feel that coming to Fletcher is one of the best decisions I have made.  I cannot wait to see how the rest of my Fletcher journey will turn out.  I can’t claim that I have gotten the full insight into what Fletcher has to offer, but I am definitely excited to see what else is out there.

I know that many Indonesians back home would be interested in joining this community, and will have a lot to add.  And I know that many will benefit from the Fletcher experience, with the flexibility, the events, and the resources, to graduate ready to contribute back to the country.  So here I am, hoping to ensure that people hear more about Fletcher.  Here I am, to ensure that more Indonesians will make Fletcher their next stop.

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In the first of the Student Stories posts for 2016-2017, McKenzie reports on her internship in Johannesburg, South Africa this past summer.

Howzit future Fletchies!  It was great to return to town after three months in South Africa this summer (or winter, as it happened to be in the southern hemisphere).

Living in Johannesburg, I worked at Edge Growth to expand the 10X-entrepreneur (10X-e) program for scale-up or growth-stage startups across South Africa.  Through my job, I helped develop materials for 10X-e bootcamps and facilitated one-on-one growth strategy and execution workshops for portfolio companies of Edge’s flagship impact fund, the Vumela Fund.  I also got to support the Vumela Fund directly, helping strategize pipeline development and deal sourcing efforts and contributing to the due diligence of a prospective investment.

Fletcher students use their internship to accomplish a number of different goals.  Some use it to “test out” a new career field or to gain practical skills in a specific area, others to explore a new region of the world, and still others to conduct research for capstones.  Through my internship, I reaffirmed my interest in pursuing a career in impact investing and gained experience working alongside a fund investing in growth-stage companies in an emerging market setting.

McKenzieBut summer internships aren’t only for professional growth — I took the opportunity to travel and see as much as possible of South Africa over weekends and public holidays.  I attended braais (like barbeques), where I feasted with friends on grilled meats and braaibroodjes (pretty much a grilled cheese sandwich with onions and tomato), while discussing local politics and the municipal elections that were to take place in August.  I attended my first-ever rugby match to watch South Africa’s beloved Springboks take on the Irish (and win!).  I explored food markets in the reviving central business district of Jo’burg.  I visited the sobering apartheid museum to steep myself in the rich yet horrifying past, and did yoga on Constitution Hill (a former prison and now the site of South Africa’s Constitutional Court), in honor of Mandela Day.

I was also able to travel to both Cape Town and Durban in the course of my work, and spent time hiking Table Mountain and Lion’s Head or dipping my toes in the Indian Ocean after facilitating workshops for some of Vumela Fund’s portfolio companies.  Finally, while in Tanzania for a separate project with an Omidyar Network portfolio company, I met up with a classmate working in Arusha to take a short safari in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed my summer and was able to find the perfect mix of professional experience and personal growth.  While I was sad to leave a country I was only just beginning to know, I’m excited to be back at Fletcher and kicking off my second year.  At the same time, I know that each semester goes by in the blink of an eye and I am trying to savor every day.  For those of you looking to begin grad school this time next year, remember to enjoy the next eight-to-ten months, in between drafting your personal statements and updating your résumé.  The time will be gone before you know it!

The photo is from my favorite hike in South Africa (so far — I hope I’ll get back for more one day…).  It shows me halfway up the India Venster trail on Table Mountain, with a view of Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean in the background among the mist and clouds.

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Fletcher couples are just the best.  I can’t keep up with all of them, but I love when I’m lucky enough to hear about their weddings.  Recently, Liz told me about a newly married MIB couple.  Fumi, F16, and Ryota, F15, met during her first year and his second year in the program.  Ryota came to Fletcher from the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, to which he has since returned.  After graduating just last May, Fumi has joined the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.  Both Ryota and Fumi were very active members of the Fletcher community, as you might guess from their Fletcher flag cake.

Naturally, Kristen (who, among the Admissions staff, works most closely with MIB applicants and students) takes full credit for bringing them together and their subsequent love story.  The rest of the Admissions Staff simply wishes them all the best in their life together!

Fumi and Ryota

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Yes, it’s July, but we’re still catching up with the students who are sharing their stories on the blog.  Today, let’s read McKenzie’s summary of the first half of her experience in the MIB program.

Wow – what a year!  I can’t believe that this time last year I was telling my former company that I’d be leaving to pursue graduate studies.  I had no idea of the types of adventures I was embarking upon when I accepted my offer here.  As it is for most of us transitioning out of the work world and back into an academic setting, the fall semester was a bit of an adjustment period for me.  I had to calibrate how I would prioritize my time between academics, Fletcher friends, my “pre-Fletcher life,” and family.

Fletcher prom

McKenzie (second from left) and friends before the Diplomat’s Ball.

It seems Fletcher students are up at all hours pursuing all manner of endeavors — from starting businesses to competing in case competitions; from working one, two, and sometimes three jobs or internships in between classes, to traveling abroad to conduct research as part of a capstone project; or from organizing Fletcher’s famed Culture Nights to planning and participating in many other school traditions.  It is tempting to jump in and sign up for all of these things at once.  I didn’t go quite that far, but I did spend the fall semester enrolled in five courses, leading an advisory project for the Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG), competing as a member of a team in a public equity research challenge, working part-time, researching target firms for my summer internship, and attending the numerous great events that happen at Fletcher.  I did this while traveling on weekends for a friend’s bachelorette party and wedding, visiting friends and family back home, attending a career trip in New York, and building new friendships with some of my classmates here at Fletcher.  Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time winter break rolled around.

At some point after submitting my last final exam on a cold, December morning, I realized that I was running through grad school without fully and completely appreciating the opportunities around me.  Over the subsequent weeks, I spent time prioritizing the activities and experiences I wanted to be sure to savor in my two years here and returned to campus in January with a plan to pare down certain commitments to fully value the benefits of others.

As I reflect back on the spring semester, I’m happy to report that I was really satisfied with the new balance I found.  Ironically, I was able to feel as though I was doing more by doing less.  In January, I took a break from all things academic to go north on the Fletcher ski trip.  In February, I went to DC for a two-week intensive training on impact investment and social enterprise management.  In March, I began transitioning into my now current role as CEO of FSIG and traveled to India with five close friends from school.  In April, I spent more time on the weekends exploring the sights and opportunities offered by Boston.  And in May, I survived yet another round of finals, attended the Diplomat’s Ball, and played bubble soccer during “Dis-Orientation” week, which is a collection of activities and events between the end of finals and commencement weekend dedicated to celebrating the end of school for second years.

Bubbles, 2016-05-16 at 5.01.38 PMThis leads me to an important aspect of this school that makes it so great, yet can also make it challenging: there is a tremendous diversity of opportunity at Fletcher.  The hardest (and most rewarding) task for students is to identify the two to three opportunities that best fit with their career and personal goals.  I’ve managed to pare down and focus on those that are most important to me, and it’s been interesting to see my classmates go through a similar process.  The most exciting aspect, however, is that even as I have defined the activities I would benefit from or enjoy the most, I have friends at Fletcher whose interests led them to entirely different opportunities.  While we’re each invested in our own “flavor” of Fletcher activities, it’s always interesting to learn about the events and happenings of friends studying completely different areas.

With that, my concluding piece of advice for incoming and prospective students is two-fold.  First, in addition to the myriad courses that you are undoubtedly considering, know that beyond the classroom are tremendous opportunities to build practical skills and experience in the area of your choice through student activities and clubs.  The second is perhaps lost on every generation of ambitious, enthusiastic incoming first years, but to the extent possible, you should prioritize the opportunities most important to you.  This is tremendously difficult at Fletcher, but the rewards from focusing on the most essential elements across your classes, activities, jobs, family, and social obligations will make your time at Fletcher that much more special.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts for now.  Over the summer, I’m heading to South Africa to work with the portfolio companies of a small firm in Johannesburg, helping them to scale up proven business models and transition from small, unstructured startup teams to more developed, growth-oriented companies.  I’ve never been to South Africa, but I am excited to dive in and learn as much as possible about the people and history of one of Africa’s largest economies.  For those of you joining us next year, enjoy the summer and we’ll see you in the fall.  For the rest of you, thanks for sharing in my experiences here at Fletcher — I look forward to checking back in September!

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Recently graduated student bloggers Ali, Alex, and Aditi are wrapping up their stories for the blog.  First to report on the conclusion of her Fletcher experience is Ali.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was writing to you with excitement about the end of first year and my summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Today, I write with even more enthusiasm about the completion of my degree and my return to that same place.

Ali, final postFletcher has been a wonderful two years for me.  I’ve made new friends and colleagues; gained the knowledge and experience I need to transition to the private sector; accepted a fantastic job in my hometown; and completed a capstone project that took me back to Brussels, where my professional journey began.

It was interesting to end my Fletcher career back in Belgium, thanks to capstone research funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context.  During my spring break there, terrorist attacks at the airport and local metro station made international news that showed me Belgium is not the same place I lived before.  Its quirky citizens and hidden, lively bars have become more exposed to worldly cares.  Belgian companies are being acquired by international competitors; family brewers are innovating to stay relevant amongst microbrewers; and ISIS is launching a full assault on the country.  Just like the little country I love, I have changed and become more exposed to the world, too.  While many students at Fletcher dedicate their lives to careers abroad, I can’t imagine not using my new travels and knowledge to return home and create change from there.

At YUM! Brands, I’ll be working to explore the material impact of extra-financial environmental, social, and governance issues and to improve the company’s performance and transparency around them.  I’ll communicate proactively with key stakeholders, like investors, and use their feedback to drive internal change, as well.

Fletcher isn’t just a place for students desiring careers in governments and non-profits abroad.  It’s also a great training ground for people looking to transform the world of business right here in America.

See everyone back in Kentucky soon!
Ali

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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.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
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

Capstone Topic
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

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Financial Statement Management
Strategic Management (½ credit, Summer pre-session)
Managerial Economics
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.

Semester Two

International Business Strategy & Operations
Marketing Management
Macroeconomics
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.

Summer Internship
BlueWave Renewables

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.

Semester Three

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.

Semester Four

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.

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As we’re rapidly approaching the end of their sixth year since graduating, let’s return to the Class of 2010, whose updates I have collected throughout the year following their five-year reunion.  Today we’ll hear from Eric Sullivan, a member of the very first MIB class.

Pre-Fletcher Experience

Eric - TeresopolisPrior to joining Fletcher as a member of the inaugural MIB class in 2008, I was one of many whose paths were shaped by the September 11th terrorist attacks and the ensuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I was an Air Force ROTC cadet studying business and Russian at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill on that fateful day.  A little over five years later, I was a newly-minted first lieutenant supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom out of the former Baathist headquarters at the old Iraqi Air Force Academy.  That experience, along with an eye-opening study abroad experience in Russia, raised my interest in international affairs and set me on the path to Fletcher.

At Fletcher

I chose Fletcher because of the MIB program and the opportunity it offered to merge two core interests: business and international affairs.  Although the MIB program was new, the Fletcher School itself was both well-established and well-regarded.  I was particularly impressed by the School’s breadth of offerings, its reputation within the international affairs community, the success of its alumni, and the caliber of my future classmates whom I met at the Open House for newly admitted students.  I had a truly enriching experience at Fletcher.  What I appreciated the most was the ability to pursue my specific academic interests both in and outside of the classroom, with the benefit of a wide array of resources at my disposal through Fletcher and the wider Tufts community.

For example, in fulfillment of my thesis requirement, I wanted to find a way to connect my interests in social enterprise and human trafficking.  With invaluable help and guidance from my advisor, Professor Nathalie Lydler-Kylander, I developed a business case study on Made By Survivors, an NGO that uses the power of social enterprise to empower and liberate survivors of human trafficking.  With the aid of an EMPOWER social enterprise grant from Tufts Institute for Global Leadership, I traveled to India and Nepal to conduct research on several social enterprises employing survivors of trafficking and vulnerable populations.  That trip resulted in a successful case study recognized among the winners of the NextBillion 2010 Case Writing Competition and used subsequently at both Fletcher and Harvard Business School.  The wide web of support and unique opportunities available through Fletcher made such an outcome possible.

Post Fletcher

After graduation, I accepted a position as a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, serving as a contract specialist at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center and spending some priceless time with family.  In early 2013, I embarked on my dream job in the U.S. Foreign Service.  My first assignment was to Moscow, Russia as a consular officer, where I adjudicated nonimmigrant and immigrant visas, and managed a portfolio with national security implications and numerous public diplomacy events ranging from a radio interview on a popular Moscow station to a roundtable discussion with future Russian diplomats and foreign affairs professionals.  I also had the opportunity to support the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine during the landmark presidential elections of 2014.  Though only a short two years in duration, set against the backdrop of momentous events in Ukraine, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the imposition of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions, and the granting of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, it made for a very interesting first tour.

Following my assignment in Moscow, I was ready for a drastic change of scenery and climate.  I completed six months of Portuguese language training and I’m now assigned as a Consular Officer to the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I’m currently working in the nonimmigrant visas section, conducting interviews for Brazilians who wish to travel to the U.S. for tourism, business, academics, and exchanges.  Later this year, I will have the opportunity to work as a special assistant to the Consul General.  The Summer Olympics is just around the corner, while Brazil is passing through a challenging period both politically and economically.  My second tour in the Foreign Service seems destined to be just as interesting as the first.

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