Regular readers recently learned a bit about the Fletcher Educational Enrichment Fund (FEEF), a small grant program that helps students pursue experiential learning opportunities such as professional and scholarly conferences and independent research projects. Second-year MALD student Kevin recently used FEEF support to make a flash weekend visit to Hong Kong – that’s right, Hong Kong, in a weekend – for the annual conference of the Society of Interdisciplinary Business Research:
One of the most important aspects of attending graduate school is having the opportunity to expand your professional portfolio and brand. While most Fletcher students are incredibly accomplished in their own right, many of us are unable to travel very far to attend conferences and present our work to interested parties. I recently had the chance to attend the 2018 SIBR Conference on Interdisciplinary Business & Economic Research in Hong Kong. The conference addressed business and economic issues with the goal of enacting new solutions for the global community. In all, the conference had a wide spectrum of delegates with 116 attendees from 21 countries. As far as I am aware, I was the only attendee from the United States.
The conference was both theoretical and academic in practice, with experts from a wide variety of background and nationalities. As one of a handful of Masters candidates in attendance, I found it very interesting to mingle among students and professionals from varying international backgrounds who enjoyed sharing their insight on business and its role in their respective societies. While the conference was a bit more policy focused than I had anticipated, my topic covering the potential decline of the United Arab Emirates as a “tax haven” was well received and will be hopefully published in post-conference journals. Many of my colleagues approached me after I spoke to ask questions and discuss the role of Islam in finance. One topic that we unpacked was how Islamic finance and tax legislation are becoming more intertwined as economies look to cut costs but also to gain revenue, which served as a particular interest for the Malaysian attendees where Islamic finance is popular.
Albeit short, my experience in Hong Kong has motivated me to continue my research studying the role of religion in business and finance within the Arabian Gulf. I have already taken a course at Fletcher on Islamic Finance, and will perhaps look into a cross-registered course at the Harvard Business School for future study. In just my short time at Fletcher, I have been fortunate enough to present at other conferences in Montreal, Canada, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Santa Barbara, California, each covering my topics of interest including the role of groupthink in the decision-making process of the Arabian Gulf states, and lone actor terrorism. I find that while Fletcher has so many internal opportunities during a given semester, sometimes the idea of presenting at conferences gets missed by students, yet these presentations are very important for professional development and tend to stand out on a resume. I also want to address the financial aspect of attendance, which is a major factor student participation, as we are ultimately full-time students. I was lucky enough to receive a grant from the Fletcher Educational Enrichment Fund (FEEF) to assist with my participation in the 2018 SIBR Conference on Interdisciplinary Business & Economic Research in Hong Kong, and I also received assistance from other departments around Tufts. Personally, I have noticed Fletcher is starting to strongly encourage student conference attendance, with new sources of funding starting to arise around campus. For all students considering Fletcher, I hope that my experience in Hong Kong is just a small snapshot of what could be available to you if you join the Fletcher Mafia!