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

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

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Returning to the Class of 2016, sometimes an update on a Fletcher graduate also captures information on one of our programs.  Although it’s a tiny percentage of graduates who find a post-student life here, some do.  And one of those is Matthew Merighi, F16, who for the past year has been the Assistant Director of Maritime Studies at Fletcher.

I never expected to end up working with Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program (MSP).  My original plan was to attend Fletcher and use my degree to go back into the U.S. federal government.  But obviously, Fletcher had an effect on me.

Before coming to Fletcher, I was a civilian employee in the U.S. Air Force’s International Affairs Office.  I worked as a liaison with other air forces, as an executive officer for a one-star general, and a tradeshow director for a member of the Senior Executive Service.  I came to Fletcher planning to study security studies to deepen my knowledge of the field before going back into public service.

The breakthrough came when taking Professor (now Emeritus) John Perry’s Maritime History and Globalization course in the fall of 2014.  No one who took a course with Professor Perry has ever forgotten it.  He was a fantastic lecturer and he presented the maritime domain in such a compelling way that I was hooked.  I worked for him as a research assistant and continued to take courses under Professor Rocky Weitz, F02, F08, MSP’s current director, when he came back to Fletcher in 2015.

MSP’s real strength is its interdisciplinary approach, linking security, business, environment, and law.  It added a salt-water perspective to how I view the world and forced me to think about international issues in a holistic way.  As an example, the introductory course in the field, Global Maritime Affairs, touches on a broad array of topics ranging from military buildups in the South China Sea to the ecological threats facing global fisheries and the economics of the shipping industry.  To be an effective maritime policy expert, you need to be literate in all of the dimensions of those challenges, rather than narrowly focused on a single specialty.

For my part, I feel very fortunate to be where I am.  Maritime studies as a field is quickly going from a niche topic to a cornerstone of policy and business.  Whether it is understanding the Arctic, climate change, or global trade patterns, having a maritime perspective is a key distinguisher for would-be practitioners.  MSP is also working on original research into cutting-edge maritime security issues, expanding its offerings of both academic and professional events, and supporting student projects in all maritime fields.  Outside of Fletcher, I also am building a nonprofit startup, Blue Water Metrics, to crowdsource data-gathering on ocean health as part of a Fletcher co-founding team.  Being a part of a new venture, alongside my work with MSP’s efforts to train the next generation of maritime leaders, is truly an honor.

(The video below is Matthew’s talk from the Fletcher Ideas Exchange.)

I’m a little late in sharing updates from the Class of 2016, but there’s no time like the present to run the first of the posts from alumni who have completed one year post-Fletcher.  We’ll hear today from Miranda Bogen, and it doesn’t surprise me that Miranda was the first to answer my call for updates.  Our first interaction was when she contacted me, only weeks after arriving at Fletcher, to ask if I’d be interested in a post that she wrote with her new classmate Aditi (who then went on to write for the blog for two years).  And Miranda didn’t just start her Fletcher experience busy — she stayed busy throughout her two years.  So let’s let her tell us what she’s doing now.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I spell-checked my capstone for the seventeenth time, powered through my last final, and bid farewell to Medford to join the flock of migratory Fletcherites making our way southward to the other epicenter of the Fletcher Community — Washington, DC! 

I came to Fletcher to study how technology impacts international affairs; I was inspired by the waves of digital activism bubbling up across the Middle East during the Arab Spring, and curious how online platforms like Google and Facebook were navigating constraints and demands of oppressive governments while simultaneously rooting for the protesters, who were exercising exactly the sort of free expression that these companies endorsed.  Like many “career-switchers” who come to Fletcher for a professional pivot, I was nervous about the prospect of trying to break into a new field without directly relevant work experience.

Luckily, Fletcher provided exactly the springboard I needed.  The interdisciplinary curriculum let me take courses ranging from cybersecurity to international business law, and together with a group of fellow students interested in technology, I launched the Tech@Fletcher student group to explore technology in the realms of diplomacy, development, innovation, and business.  I was thrilled to be selected as a Google Policy Fellow during the summer between my first and second years, an internship that brought me to DC to coordinate educational programs on Capitol Hill for Congressional staff to learn about such topics as Internet governance and drone policy (and simultaneously exposed me to the range of organizations and companies engaged in technology policy conversations, a huge help during my job search!).

Aided by a connection I’d forged during my first semester with a Fletcher alum (who I found via LinkedIn and who responded to my initial cold email within 15 minutes with an offer to help), I was lucky to secure a job several months before graduating as the fifth member of a small public interest consulting firm that focuses on the intersection of technology and civil rights.  The hybrid consulting/policy job seemed to require the exact set of skills I learned at Fletcher through course like Field Studies in Global Consulting and Writing to Influence Policy and the Global Debate, and while I was initially hesitant to join such a young organization (coming from a scrappy nonprofit, I thought working for a larger company would be a valuable next step), several people I admire recommended I give it a chance — and the decision to take that leap has turned out even better than I could have imagined. 

In my job, I get to work on cutting edge issues like algorithmic decisions, big data ethics, and online hate speech with some of the leading civil rights organizations and foundations in the country.  We work with advocacy groups like the ACLU and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, as well as companies like Google, Facebook, and AirBnB, to address issues of discrimination in online platforms.  Plus, I frequently find myself in meetings with the very same people who I studied while I was at Fletcher.  No pressure!

The advice I always give prospective students is that starting graduate studies with a solid idea of the career you want will help immensely in choosing courses, prioritizing extracurriculars, and picking a capstone topic, and I stand by that advice.  But on the other hand, you never know when something you do for fun or to fulfill a requirement will come in handy: It turns out the the Environmental Economics class I squeezed into my final semester has been surprisingly relevant to Internet policy issues.  Who’d have thought?

Other work I did at Fletcher has also popped up in unexpected and gratifying ways.  A few months after graduating, I converted part of my capstone (which explored how technology companies make foreign policy decisions) into a longform article about the geopolitical quagmires of Google Maps.  Mostly, I wanted at least some of what I’d spent months working on to see the light of day — and then, out of the blue, my piece was picked up by Newsweek!  Perhaps even better, the history of corporate social responsibility that I researched and the analytical framework that I developed for my capstone have helped me on a daily basis as I interface with the tech companies that I analyzed.

I couldn’t be happier to be pursuing my dream career and living in Washington.  For those choosing between graduate programs in DC and Fletcher, I wholeheartedly endorse studying in the Boston area: From the speakers and opportunities at Fletcher, Harvard, and MIT to the independent coffee shops in Davis Square where I wrote all of my papers, to the bonds I formed while holed up in Blakeley Hall during the epic winter of ‘15, Fletcher gave me so much more than just a degree.  I constantly look back on my two years in Medford and know with absolute certainty that I would not have gotten so far so quickly after graduate school had I studied anywhere else. 

One of my favorite parts of my Fletcher experience was procrastinating on my reading in order to weave all of my classmates’ international adventures into the yearly video tradition, “Where the Hell is Fletcher.” While we had a blast watching this and other videos together in ASEAN as we closed out our final semester with the infamous Fletcher Follies, my brilliant Fletcher friends are again scattered all over the world as development economists, diplomats, bankers, and business strategists — and I can’t wait to follow their adventures!

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I just rediscovered a note to myself from last November and, even half a year later, I’d like to highlight this interesting alumni news item.  A Fletcher 2003 graduate, Adam Hinds, was elected last fall to the Massachusetts Senate.  He won handily and, with about ten years of experience with the United Nations on his résumé, brings an unusual background to a state legislature.  As with most things, you can follow his work on Facebook.

 

The final Five-Year Update for the Class of 2011 comes from Jacqui Deelstra.  Jacqui had pursued a variety of professional experiences before she started at Fletcher, but she created a clear path for her post-graduate school career, with ICT4D the link that connects her work.

For me, the choice to go to Fletcher was pretty clear.  I wanted to increase my skills and expertise for a career in international development, and my sister had paved the way to Medford by going to Tufts herself as an undergraduate.  So when I when analyzed choices for grad school, I could not imagine a better option than to continue the “Jumbo” family tradition.

My path to Fletcher

As I was finishing up my degree in international relations and journalism at the University of Southern California, I found myself looking for opportunities to get practical experience overseas.  Through some connections I heard about Tostan, an NGO based in Senegal that focuses on women and girls’ health and human rights.  Working with Tostan on communications and donor relations, and visiting communities throughout Senegal, gave me my first exposure to the field of international development.

Over the next few years, before making my way to Fletcher, I spent two years back in Seattle, WA, my hometown, working on local youth-mentoring programs with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and spent a year in Loja, Ecuador teaching English and volunteering through the WorldTeach program.

During and after Fletcher: Finding a niche in ICT4D

As an undergraduate, while I double-majored in international relations and print journalism, my primary focus was on communications and journalism.  That passion for understanding how people access and consume information, and how it impacts their lives, has always stuck with me.  While at Fletcher I discovered the budding field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D).  I was fascinated in thinking about how mobile devices, social media and other communication technologies were changing people’s ability to participate in government, get information on health topics, and access training and capacity building.  I focused my Fletcher thesis on how ICT was being used for government accountability and transparency programs in East Africa through field research in Tanzania and Kenya during the summer between my two years at Fletcher.

Thanks to the experience I gained with ICT4D while at Fletcher, I landed a short-term consultancy with Plan International as an ICT4D consultant.  Right after Fletcher graduation, I headed to Benin where I spent two months working with the local staff on evaluating and planning the expanded roll-out of an SMS-based pilot project.

After I returned from Benin, I joined Creative Associates, a DC-based USAID implementing partner.  At that time in September 2011, Creative had just established a Technology for Development team focused on designing and implementing ICT solutions for projects in sectors such as education, elections, and governance and civil society.  I spent five years with Creative helping to grow the Technology for Development practice, which is now known as the Creative Development Lab.  My work at Creative took me to Zambia to work on mobile solutions to support early-grade reading and to Haiti to support civil society organizations with technology for collecting and mapping electoral security data.

In February 2017, I accepted an exciting opportunity to work with the Digital Health Solutions team at PATH.  PATH is a leader in innovation in Global Health and my new position is giving me the great chance to continue to grow my career in ICT4D and to put down roots back in Seattle.

Today I balance my work in ICT4D with my family.  I have an almost two-year-old son named Elliott.  I also still benefit tremendously from the relationships I developed at Fletcher.  With my closest Fletcher friends, who are scattered all over the world, we have maintained a Skype book club, where we spend little time discussing the book, but instead have lengthy discussions on topics ranging from career challenges and successes to wedding planning.  Looking back and considering my life today, I could not be happier with my choice to follow in my sister’s footsteps and become a Tufts Jumbo by studying at Fletcher.

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This week I’m going to share two updates from the Class of 2011, with my apologies to the writers for neglecting to publish their posts earlier in the spring.  Kimberly came to Fletcher from Jamaica, which given the country’s relatively small size, immediately made her stand out my mind.

Every so often I have a flashback to Commencement day — huddling together for group photos, and then each of my friends, with cautious optimism, sharing plans for our new lives that would begin in just a matter of days.  Was that really five and a half years ago?  So much has happened.  Our class has accomplished so much.

In high school I’d made up my mind that I wouldn’t be contained by the borders of my small island; I was one of those people that Dean Bosworth spoke about at our orientation, looking to “lead an international life.”

At first, the dream manifested as a desire to join Jamaica’s foreign service, and I was fortunate to receive very clear advice from two of Jamaica’s top diplomatic professionals.  They told me that if I was serious about the foreign service, there was only one graduate school for me.  And so, before I had even decided where I would pursue my undergraduate studies, I had accepted my mission: The Fletcher School.  Though it was probably obvious, I didn’t realize at the time that they were both Fletcher grads.

One bachelor’s degree and an embassy internship later, I was heading to Medford.  I had put all my grad school eggs in the Fletcher basket and it had paid off.

By the time I arrived in the Hall of Flags, my interests had shifted.  I’d spent a year in the Ministry of Finance, working on Jamaica’s program with the multilateral banks, and I had a new mission: I was going to work at the World Bank.

I never forgot about that mission, but it lay in the back of my mind while I was busy soaking up the whirlwind awesomeness that is the Fletcher School.  This update is my love song to Blakeley Hall, Fletcher Follies, Los Fletcheros, the annual Ski Trip, and so much more.  To Professor Block, who was a stellar advisor, and to Professor Moomaw and all of CIERP.

Kimberly notes, “When a project has been a success, it makes people happy, sometimes happy enough to plant trees named after you.”

It is five and half years later, and a lot has happened.  I’ve been to several Fletcher weddings, including my own, and I ended up at the World Bank, though in a different sector than I anticipated.  In the Global Water Practice, I work on policy, planning, and capacity building related to water resources infrastructure.  Given the scale of the global water and energy challenges, I can scarcely think of a sector I would rather be working in.

While I didn’t expect my job to take me to so many construction sites, the experience has been both exciting and rewarding.  There is, at the end of the day, something special about seeing a major project coming up out of the ground and knowing you had even the smallest hand in bringing it to fruition.  When I arrive at a client’s office and someone hands me a hard hat, I know it’s going to be a good day.

If I have one misgiving, though, it is that none of my projects to date have taken me anywhere close to Jamaica.  I won’t lie; it tugs at my heartstrings to spend most of my days trying to solve problems everywhere else but there.  I tell myself that there is time for that.

In the meantime, I am enjoying all the incredible Fletcher friendships I made during those two years and the ones I continue to make.  The Fletcher family is real, so real.  It can be hard to stay in touch with folks splintered all over the globe, but nearly everywhere I go, there’s at least one familiar face and it makes all the difference.

I haven’t decided yet what my next mission will be…but I think I’m starting to get some ideas.

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What a beautiful Commencement weekend!  Two fabulous sunny days tucked between the Boston area’s first heat wave and a dreary rainy Monday — what more could we ask for?  As planned, I arrived yesterday in time to snag folks as they moved from the all-University graduation to the Fletcher ceremony.  I didn’t catch everyone (sadly) but, among others, I was happy to see student bloggers Adnan, Tatsuo, and McKenzie.  (Adnan and Tatsuo both apologized for delays in sending their final posts.  I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon.)  McKenzie was honored on Saturday with a prize for academic achievement and community involvement by a graduating student.  Any of the finalists for the award would have been worthy — being selected is truly a big honor.  Congratulations, McKenzie!

Then, once the processions were complete, we all settled down for speeches and the distribution of diplomas.  The Fletcher website offers quick summaries of both Commencement and Class Day, and the Tufts website offers details and photos from the all-University ceremony (also called Phase I).  Here’s an example:

I had a great view of the proceedings, but one that was frequently interrupted by photographers, so I’ll let the websites do the talking.  But I still want to share two photos that represent a special joy.  There are a good number of children who started life while a parent was a Fletcher student.  Two examples from among our PhD graduates are Rizwan (adorable daughter) and Avner (adorable twin boys), who are receiving their PhD “hoods”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reaction of the “graduating kids” from all degree programs was priceless.  Many weren’t sure what was going on, but there was one lovely little girl in her own gown who totally owned the stage!

Once the PhD graduates had all been recognized, the ceremony concluded and everyone moved off to a reception.  The end of another academic year!  A few graduates have said they’ll stop by this week, which will ease our transition to the very quiet summer.  For a few days, though, we’ll enjoy the glow of having launched the newest members of the Fletcher alumni family!

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I just saw a Fletcher Features story about Barbara Bodine, F71, a career Foreign Service Officer who recently visited the school.  I thought I would point you toward the story, paired with a previous report on a visit by Roberta Jacobson, F86, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.  Click on their photos for each story.

 

Note that Ambassador Jacobson is standing in front of a plaque in her honor, next to one for Ambassador Bodine.  Nice coincidence, right?  They were both recipients of the Class of 1947 Memorial Award.

And here are the plaques for all the previous recipients, as best I was able to capture them in the Hall of Flags.

 

An unusual post for the Admissions Blog today.  I was in contact last week with Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, and she told me that two alumni had written a post for the Corruption in Fragile States blog series that she runs.  I’m happy to share the post, to highlight the work that Fletcher alumni are doing.

About the alumni writers:

Héctor Portillo, F16, is involved in a variety of peacebuilding programs in Guerrero and Michoacán, two of the most violent states in Mexico. He has a BA in Political Science from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and a master’s degree from The Fletcher School, where he focused his studies on the intersections of gender and conflict resolution. Previously, he worked in different positions for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Public Education. He is currently Project Coordinator for Catholic Relief Services Mexico.

 

Sebastián Molano, F12, is an international development worker from Colombia. He holds a master’s degree in NGO Management and Human Security from The Fletcher School. Sebastián has worked for over 11 years on development issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. His experience ranges from providing humanitarian response in Haiti, development work in Central America to participating in 20 political and electoral observation missions across the continent. As a gender specialist, Sebastián has developed an expertise in gender and masculinities and how to engage purposefully men and boys to enable gender equality. He is the founder of Defying Gender Roles an advocacy initiative that seeks to openly challenge harmful gender roles, gender norms, and traditional notions of masculinity. You can learn more about his work on his TEDx talk. Currently, Sebastián is a Gender Advisor for Oxfam America.

And here is their blog post from the Corruption in Fragile States blog.

Approaching corruption through the lens of masculinities

Héctor Portillo and Sebastián Molano propose three ways in which the expectations, pressures, and privileges of “being a man” may shed light on male attitudes towards corruption.

Although corruption is not by any means our field of study, we both grew up in countries where corruption is normalized to the point where not engaging in it is not only considered rare but naïve. Coincidentally, both of our countries of origin, Mexico and Colombia, also have a deeply embedded culture of sexism and machismo. Our personal experiences with sexism, masculinities, and corruption motivated us to explore how the expectations, pressures, and privileges of “being a man” can encourage or deter an individual’s engagement in corruption.

Masculinities and Toxic Masculinity

The ideals men and boys are expected to live up to are called “masculinities.” Masculinities are socially constructed and reinforced, they vary by time, place, and community, and have hierarchies – “some forms are prized as being more valuable for men and boys to aspire than others.” These expectations “often put men under pressure to conform to prevailing masculine ideals, which may or may not be what individual men would otherwise aspire to.”

Some of the expectations of what it means to be a man may translate into violent and/or self-destructive behaviors. The Good Men Project calls those expectations ‘toxic masculinities,’ and defines them as those where manhood is formed by a cocktail of “violence, sex, status and aggression.” They are often associated with risky behaviors (e.g., higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse) and proneness to engage in violence (e.g. sexual violence, violent crime). Others, like Michael Kimmel, have argued that these expressions of manhood become socialized — that is, they are not just internalized by the individual, but also replicated by society. (Kimmel, Michael, “Masculinities and Gun Violence: The Personal Meets the Political,” Paper prepared for a session at the UN on “Men, Women and Gun Violence,” July 14, 2005.)

[To our best knowledge, there is no research (yet) on the links between toxic masculinities and corruption. If you know of any, please send us examples through the comments section below!]

Three Mechanisms of Interaction

We believe that male attitudes towards corruption can be analyzed through three mechanisms. We have presented them as separate for conceptual clarity, but we believe they interact with and possibly reinforce each other:

  1. Corruption as a male privilege;
  2. Corruption as a male performance of power and domination; and
  3. Corruption as a pathway for men to fulfill society’s expectation of them to ‘provide’

Corruption as male privilege

Let’s start with the proposition that gender inequality exists in most societies, and that this translates into men wielding more/most power –especially, “entrusted power” (i.e. political/policy power) – than women. Thus, men hold most of the resources and networks that maintain and give access to power.  Most women, then, do not engage in corruption because they are unable to tap into the structures and networks that men have access to. In this sense corruption, “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain,” presents itself as a male privilege.

Corruption as a male performance of power and domination

The social definitions of what being a man looks (and feels) like are frequently correlated to power. If what we understand to be “manly” is toxic (i.e. toxic masculinities) and what we understand as “power” is also thought of as “manly”, then the toxicity may permeate to power as well. Corruption, then, would be more likely where men are expected (and rewarded) for using their power over others; it would be a consequence and a symptom of toxic understandings of what it means to be a man, for men would understand corruption as another way to prove their manliness through power.

Corruption as a pathway for men to fulfill society’s expectation of them to ‘provide’

Our final proposed mechanism stems from the assumption that men are expected to provide for their families, and that their notion of value is assessed on the fulfillment of this role. However, as is the case in most of the world, only a small proportion of the population can meet all their needs. Although this pressure is true for both men and women, the expected role of provider (and sometimes sole provider) is often masculine.

Studies have shown that, in extreme situations of poverty and/or conflict, when men are unable to fill the role of provider (a role they consider quintessential to their identity as men) they are likelier to engage in self-destructive behaviors or to join criminal or armed groups. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to imagine that some men in positions of relative power (lower-level public officials, for example) might engage in corruption to fulfill their role as providers. In some contexts, engaging in corruption practices can be a coping mechanism for individuals who are part of a power structure.

Of course, there is nothing new in the notion that one of the reasons for some individuals to engage in corruption is economic distress or need. However, understanding how the economic pressures are gendered (i.e. different for men and women) may help understand how the mechanisms through which these pressures lead to corruption are themselves gendered.

However, it is also common to see men in high-level positions of power engaging in corruption practices. In their case, the power attached to the positions they hold, the social networks they belong to or their last names, cover them with a veil of protection against the law. Thus, different hierarchies of power among men when engaging in corruptive practices differ in the scope and magnitude but the effects are the same: mistrust, impunity, and undermine of democracy.

Interactions across mechanisms

As we have written above, the three mechanisms we have proposed interact with each other:

  1. Access to positions of relative power or influence from which men can engage in corruption is an extension of their male privileges.
  2. The way men use (and abuse) said power for their private gain will be informed by a (masculinized and possibly toxic) understanding of how they ought to wield power.
  3. Corruption is a possible pathway for individuals holding positions of relative power to earn additional income and/or solidify their positions and networks of power, allowing them to provide more resources for their families.

Can Gender Equality Decrease Corruption?

This brief exploration introduces a more nuanced question. Can gender equality decrease corruption? Although this requires much further research, our analysis suggests that as social understandings of power and (toxic) masculinities become dissociated from each other, corruption’s appeal as a (male) performance of power will diminish. Likewise, as men’s identity is less associated with the role of provider, pressures to engage in corruption may diminish.

Gender Equality is not Enough

Gender equality may reduce men’s use of corruption as a mechanism to display power and domination over women, but it won’t necessarily reduce men’s (and women’s) use of corruption as a mechanism to display power and domination over people. As gender equality advances, corruption will stop being a male privilege and become available for both men and women with power.

Programs that address corruption or gender equality ought to consider the way these two subjects interplay with each other. Existing and future programming on masculinities could be adjusted to incorporate notions of power and the construction of masculinity as a strategy to better engage with anti-corruption work. To the best of our knowledge, this has not yet been done in a purposeful, measurable manner. We hope this brief post will inspire researchers and practitioners to ask how work on masculinities and on corruption better complement each other.

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Our next Five-Year Update comes from Vincent Fennell, whom I recall spent quite a bit of time around the Admissions Office during his two years in the MIB program.  I recently caught up with him at an event, and I was reminded why it was so delightful to see him regularly.

I admit there’s a certain irony in writing an update about “life since Fletcher” when I’m currently only 30 minutes away from the Fletcher campus.  However, it’s more a case of things coming full circle, rather than sitting still.  Let me explain.

Before Fletcher:

Before I joined the Fletcher MIB class of 2011, I worked at State Street Corporation in Boston.  I decided to pursue an MIB as a way of developing my passion for international business.  I had seen during my time at State Street that no business happens in a vacuum.  There are so many “non-business” variables to an internationally successful business that I felt these were best addressed in an International Affairs School.  I had already lived a pretty international life — albeit tame by Fletcher standards — but I wanted an education that could help me try to make sense of it all, help me become, in the words of the late Dean Bosworth, “culturally fluent.”

After Fletcher:

After I graduated from Fletcher in 2011, my wife, daughter, and I moved to England where I started a job at the Strategy Office for Hitachi Ltd. in their European Headquarters.  This job came as a direct result of the internship I had in Tokyo with Hitachi the summer before.  In what might be a Fletcher first, I was an Irishman who got a job in London while living in Boston after an internship in Tokyo.

Working for Hitachi was a dream post-Fletcher job for me.  Each and every week felt like an applied session of the courses I had taken at Fletcher.  Some weeks I was involved in Smart City discussions with the Japanese Ministry for Economy in Spain, while other times I was helping lay the foundations for a renewable hydrogen energy storage system at the Nissan test facility at their factory in Sunderland.  At Fletcher I had taken a course on Petroleum in the Global Economy.  This proved to be an invaluable foundation in energy discussions that I referred to constantly.

If I wasn’t focused on Smart Cities, I was helping negotiate the terms of a first of its kind Smart Energy Grid demonstration project in the UK or speaking with the Istanbul municipality about about municipal water network management systems.  This is where I gained a whole new appreciation for my negotiation course and the importance of frameworks and BATNAs (Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement).

Toward the end of my tenure at Hitachi, I was asked to undertake a market analysis on the nascent “Industry 4.0” or Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Industry 4.0, simply put, is a catch-all for the automation of factories.  Through this research and by meeting with a wide variety of software companies and manufacturing companies, I found the catalyst for the next step in my career: digitization.

Digitization and Industry 4.0 were not topics I had really explored in great detail while at Fletcher.  I had taken courses in Innovation and even explored an internship with a few tech startups, but I always thought that I wasn’t “techie” enough.  I’m not a software engineer and didn’t know anything about coding.  What I experienced after Fletcher is the understanding of the critical need for both clear communication and lateral thinking in the technology arena.

Midway through 2015 I was offered a chance to move back to the U.S. and work with my former team at State Street, where I currently lead various internal digitization initiatives.  My role is to help make State Street a market leader in the financial services industry.  Digitization is rapidly changing the realm of possibilities within the financial services sector and the business is significantly different than when I left in 2011.  It’s really exciting to be at the frontier of a changing global industry.

The last thing I want to say is about the Fletcher community.  When I was at Fletcher everyone always talked about the Fletcher family as an invaluable resource.  While I was at Tufts, this was always tangible in the form of people to reach out to with career-related questions.  It wasn’t until I left Fletcher that I realized the true value of this global community.  I feel inspired, fortunate, and proud to be a member of this unique and wonderful tribe.

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