Currently viewing the tag: "MIB"

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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This week is April vacation week for Massachusetts school children, and I’m going to use that as my explanation for turning the clock back to the March spring break for Fletcher students.  Student bloggers McKenzie and Tatsuo will each describe their travels far from campus.  First, McKenzie writes about the trip she planned with friends.

Hey all,

I’m back from a brief blog hiatus these past few months and want to share an update from an amazing spring break trip I took at the end of March.  Along with five other Fletcher friends, I traveled to New Delhi, India for what was one of the more action-packed yet wonderful spring breaks I’ve had.

Before @ Holi

McKenzie, third from left, and Fletcher friends with their host.

After 22 hours of travel, our crew arrived in hazy New Delhi at roughly 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Unsure of the time and date, we hopped in a car sent by a classmate of ours who grew up in the city and we sped toward her family’s home, where we were greeted with hot showers and a wonderful, homemade breakfast.

Soon we loaded back in a car and headed just outside the south side of Delhi to a garment factory in Faridabad.  A classmate on our trip who previously worked at Gap arranged the visit, as the factory was the first in Gap Inc.’s network to launch the PACE (Personal Advancement & Career Achievement) program, designed to empower women working in the factory and and to provide leadership development to enhance their careers and build confidence.  After learning about the program’s origins, we met with some of the women who had attended the program and since advanced to line management positions.  Then, we got to tour the factory and see the production first-hand.  The experience overall was a lot to take in, but it was truly a Fletcher-esque opportunity.

Following the factory visit, we returned to our friend’s home in time to change and head to her cousin’s house to watch what we learned was a very important cricket match.  If my understanding is correct, India-Pakistan cricket matches of the type and level we got to watch are not very frequent, which meant the celebration was on par with some of the better Super Bowl parties I’ve heard about back in the States.  At around 11:00 p.m. that night, we returned home for some much-needed sleep.  And that was just the first day.

Group @ Taj MahalOver the next few days, we traveled to Agra and Jaipur to see several famous monuments, treat ourselves to some fabulous Indian food, and browse Jaipur’s famous fabric and other markets.  On Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to New Delhi in time for one of the greatest national holidays I’ve had the privilege to experience: Holi.

Holi is a Hindu religious festival that, from what I was told, celebrates the conquering of good over evil and the coming of spring.  The night before Holi, many people light a bonfire, which signifies the burning of Holika.  Our hosts also tossed wheat chaffs into the fire as a symbol of thanks for the impending harvest.

The next day, we had the opportunity to “play Holi” with our friend’s extended family, which consisted first of a short Hindu ceremony with all the family present.  The ceremony ends with some tame additions of colored powder to the foreheads of those present, after which the family moves to an outdoor courtyard and the fun really begins.  While you start the day in pristinely clean clothes, you end up covered in pink, blue, green, yellow, red, and orange dye – in your clothes, in your hair, on your face, and in my case even in your contact lenses (one of mine was bright yellow!).  Fletcher does HoliEverywhere.  I promise, it’s a great time.  The most wonderful part of Holi is that truly everyone participates.  Young and old, men and women, everyone joins in and plays.  The kids of the family even developed a full attack plan complete with code words: they hoped to distract us by shouting “hamburger!” then lure us “with words” to be subsequently doused by water balloons and water guns.  I suppose they have a few more years to learn the finer points of diplomacy and international affairs…

Holi traditions - dye barrelThe day culminated in what has to be a family-specific tradition: each of us in turn was dunked in a barrel drum of homemade, bright yellow flower dye.  Even three weeks after Holi, there were still minor tints of that yellow in my hair.  It was a great reminder of a wonderful trip, and is a great example of the many ways that Fletcher students contrive to fill their time with enriching yet adventurous trips during their time away from school.

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Throughout their time at Fletcher, the Admissions Blog’s student writers primarily discuss their extracurricular lives, whether through student activities, internships, or the job hunt.  But I have been asking all the second-year bloggers to provide an overview of their academic work by creating an “annotated curriculum.”  As you’ll see from Ali‘s notes below, a lot of thought went into her course selections for the MIB program and, in the context of her other posts, I hope it will paint a picture of her curricular life.  (Note that (1) MIB students take an “overload” of five credits in two of their four semesters, and (2) Ali switched programs directly before starting her first semester.)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Fields of Study
Strategic Management and International Consultancy
International Business and Economic Law

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility

Curriculum Overview

I came to Fletcher to learn how to promote private-sector investments in international social and environmental initiatives.  As I prepare to leave, I’m confident I’ll be able to use my new corporate finance vocabulary and arsenal of corporate responsibility strategies, gleaned from the classes below, to do just that.

Semester One (5 credits)

Registering for Fletcher’s Strategic Management summer pre-session course was one of the best decisions of my Fletcher career.  Coming from Belgium’s public sector, I wanted to introduce myself to basic business concepts and arrive early to campus to give myself time to adjust.  I enjoyed the course material and MIB students so much that, by the time the Fall semester started, I switched from the MALD to the MIB program myself!  The Admissions team made the application/transition process easy, and my decision resulted in a more structured curriculum with the opportunity to take more credits overall.  I slowly strengthened my quantitative skills in the Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Managerial Economics courses similar to those found at most business schools, and supplemented them with two electives in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to familiarize myself with the field.  These courses gave me the confidence I needed to assume leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club and begin networking with corporate responsibility professionals from Coke, Southwest Airlines, and other leading companies at the network’s 2015 annual conference.

Semester Two (5 Credits)

The second semester of my first year was full of more MIB requirements – marketing, regional studies, macroeconomics, and stats.  My regional EU studies course was particularly insightful because Professor Laurent Jacques is an EU citizen and provided a firsthand perspective of the political and business environment there.  Luckily, I still had room for two electives since this course and marketing were only half credits, so I took International Business Strategy & Operations and Lean Six Sigma, for which I cross registered at Tufts University’s Gordon Institute.  International Business Strategy & Operations was one of my favorite classes at Fletcher – I enjoyed working with classmates to make recommendations about where to invest in sovereign bonds, and I used the class paper I wrote about Brown-Forman’s internationalization opportunities as an incubator for my capstone project this year.  Lean Six Sigma is such a practical skill to have, and the Gordon Institute offered me a certificate for completion of the course.  Being able to cross-register between schools like that is an oft-overlooked Fletcher benefit.  Overall, I recommend taking five credits each semester the first year for MIB students because – even though it was stressful with internship hunting – I’m even busier spring semester this year!

Summer Internship
Global Sustainability, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), Louisville, KY

I was blessed with a wonderful summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Thanks to some networking and hard work, I landed a position on the Global Sustainability team, where I reported directly to the Chief Sustainability Officer on water stewardship and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Investor Relations strategies.  You can read more about my internship here, so I’ll spare the details.  What’s worth noting is: I was able to transition to the private sector; after living abroad for two and a half years, I really enjoyed working at home; and I received my internship offer only a few weeks before the semester ended.  People spend most of spring semester at Fletcher worrying themselves away about internships.  Overall lesson: don’t do that to yourself!  It all works out in the end.

Semester Three (4 Credits)

Ah, the last year of graduate school.  It was time to take it easier with four credits so that I could pursue a part-time job.  I ended up obtaining a great position as an intern ESG analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors – a $22 billion investment advisor in downtown Boston.  You can read about how much I enjoyed breaking out of the Fletcher “bubble” to commute downtown and try my hand at investment management here.  I would definitely suggest waiting until second year to pursue a significant internship, though it was hard to balance with the intense set of Corporate Law classes listed above.  I was pleased with the classes used to fill my International Business & Economic Law concentration – especially Mergers & Acquisitions – but it was probably too much to enroll in them all at once.  Spread them out!  By my third semester, I was also winding down my leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club, as well, so I recommend throwing yourself into club activities and leadership roles in the first year while you can.

Semester Four (4 Credits)

In my final semester, I’ve chosen to enroll in a lighter course load with a capstone-based independent study course to give myself the time I need to continue interning at Breckinridge, apply for jobs, and complete a really awesome capstone project and report.  My internship at Breckinridge lets me solidify my new learning from graduate school, and applying for jobs has been a full-time job in itself!  Soon, I hope to return to my hometown in Kentucky to work for a company in the corporate responsibility or investor relations space.  My activities at Fletcher continue to keep me in touch with companies I’d like to work for – my colleagues from my internship at YUM! Brands will come to Boston in February for a Net Impact Career Summit I’ve helped plan — and my capstone project will send me back to Brussels and Amsterdam this month to do field research for my Brown-Forman business proposal.  It’s all coming to an end so fast.  I’m excited for what’s ahead, and I hope to finish the semester strong!

Ali, ski trip

Ali, second from right, on January’s student-organized ski trip.

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New students (the 2016 group of “Januarians”) have been participating in their Orientation this week, and continuing students will return on Tuesday.  Today, let’s hear from Ali about her extremely busy fall semester.

As winter break comes to an end, it’s hard to believe that I have only one semester left!  The fall was a whirlwind of finding balance between strengthening last year’s skills and pursuing new growth ahead.

My internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors — mentioned in my last post — was definitely something new.  I expanded my terminology within fixed income investing; experienced work in a medium-sized enterprise; and familiarized myself with downtown Boston, which I’m sad to say that I (and many of my peers) didn’t do in my first year.  It was overwhelming to balance school with work three days a week, but I’m glad I made time to do the internship.  I’m constantly reminded that this is the last time in my life when I’ll be encouraged to learn as much as I contribute at work.  I’m excited to continue interning there during my final semester.

My law courses in Trade Law, International Business Transactions, and Mergers & Acquisitions were all new for me, too.  I can’t recommend taking three law classes in one semester without a legal background, but Fletcher’s law professors succeeded in pushing me and teaching me to think in a new light.  I’m confident my familiarity with corporate law will differentiate me from other job-seeking graduate business candidates and will help me in future executive corporate roles.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

It hasn’t all been new, however.  I had a great time attending my second annual Net Impact conference in Seattle, WA, building off of last year’s experience.  It has been awesome to grow the club at Fletcher — we had five people attend the conference this year! — and to plan another fun semester of events, including an intimate speaker session with Talbot’s head of supply chain sustainability and a GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) certification workshop for students that will take place with Boston College’s Net Impact Club this spring.  A year ago, the second-year students passed the running of the club on to Chelsey and me, and now it’s fulfilling to pass it off to first-year students Ben and Harper.  I’m excited to see where they take it!

Stay tuned for adventures in my final semester, when I’ll return to Belgium over spring break with funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context to do field research for my capstone project!

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Ariel 2015Most of today’s blog readers won’t remember Ariel, a 2013 graduate of the MIB program, but that’s really a mistake on my part.  Ariel was a member of the Admissions Office student staff from 2011-2013, and she skillfully doled out advice in the blog’s “Dear Ariel” feature.  (Correcting for my previous oversight, I now encourage you to check it out — Ariel provided good information!)

Fast forward about two and a half years, and exciting news about Ariel recently landed in my inbox.  She has been recognized in the “Law and Policy” sector in Forbes Magazine‘s “30 Under 30″ feature for her work with the U.S. State Department combating drug trafficking.

Ariel was the first MIB student with a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.  Other MIB graduates have pursued careers with the State Department or other government agencies, but the Pickering Fellowship certainly seems to have boosted Ariel’s career onto the fast track.

It’s a treat for the Admissions team to see one of our students honored in this way.  Congratulations, Ariel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,
McKenzie

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With a fluid community of students who are on campus for only one or two years, it is often possible for new members of the community to take leadership roles in the organization of their choice.  Student blogger Ali recently took the helm for Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter.

The last time you heard from me, I had just returned from the annual Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.  That was a few months ago, and a lot has happened since then!

After the conference, projects with several of the contacts I met came to fruition: A corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant from VOX Global hosted a campus workshop on CSR consulting tools within the communications realm, looking at stakeholder mapping, the Global Reporting Initiative, and more.  The community relations manager from Southwest Airlines expressed an interest in receiving graduate assistance with partnerships along the airline’s new international routes, and is now sourcing that help through Fletcher’s Global Consulting class, taught by Prof. Tunnard every spring.  Lastly, a CSR analyst from Brown-Forman agreed to come speak at Fletcher’s upcoming Sustainability Conference, hosted by the school’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, and to meet with Net Impact members separately.

All these very exciting turns have been part of my pathway to becoming the new president of Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter, as the previous co-presidents head off to exciting beginnings — one to complete her dual MALD-MBA degree at IE Business School in Madrid, and the other to continue her independent research with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Mentorship and leadership transitions between first- and second-year students are an important part of daily life at Fletcher, since the school has an abundance of student clubs and traditions that need to be carried on from year to year.

My Net Impact experience was a highlight of my first semester, and probably will continue to be one throughout my two years here.  It allows me to work in teams with some of my favorite classmates to plan events; to contact professionals and create programming that empowers students to drive social impact; to develop leadership skills for my resume; and to connect with other Boston-area students to participate in Net Impact events with the broader national network.  I look forward to updating you when I discover what summer internship it helps me land!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a video of my favorite Fletcher moment in 2014: waltzing with MALD student Peter Worth in front of the Symperoper in Dresden, Germany.

It was our submission to Fletcher’s annual “Where The Hell Is Fletcher?” video.  Here’s a past version, which I highly recommend you watch!

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Our Student Stories bloggers are back on campus and checking in.  Today, Alex reflects on his first semester in the MIB program.

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.

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Completing the round of posts from our returning student bloggers, Mark looks back at his first year at Fletcher from his second-year vantage point.

Mark Attia 1I recall that when I arrived on campus last fall to begin the MIB program, I observed our second-year brethren interacting in the halls after returning from summer.  Like long-lost siblings reunited, not a twosome could pass each other without a hearty embrace.  Equally memorable was learning of all the impressive and often exotic ways the MIB’s had spent their summer.  But what was even more inspiring to me was the certainty with which second-years assured us that we, too, are embarking on what promised to be a spectacular year.  They were right.  Our first year has since passed in a blink, and I, for one, learned first-hand what was behind all that enthusiasm.

I last wrote in the spring on how I was developing my own area of expertise by tailoring coursework to specific academic and professional goals.  I was focused on learning about international project and infrastructure finance, and looking for an opportunity to break into the field.  Thanks exclusively to the Fletcher network, I landed a position with OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which was, without exaggeration, exactly what I was aiming for.  OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, and it offers a range of products designed to help U.S. firms invest in emerging markets.  OPIC also plays a meaningful role in advancing foreign policy goals in a way that I characterized as “fostering peace, through superior debt financing,” which is my own commentary on how militarism has been eclipsed by more subtle measures of economic statecraft and leverage.

I joined the Structured Finance division, where my team and I worked on loans for large and complex multi-party projects, including a wind farm in Pakistan, a concentrated solar power plant in Israel, and a social-impact-oriented housing finance facility in Haiti — projects that cost over one billion dollars together.  My responsibilities included credit analysis, due diligence, research on foreign regulations, economic assessments, and interpreting elaborate concession and loan agreements; all tasks that required me to draw on my training outlined in my earlier post on a daily basis.  But what arguably proved to be most invaluable was a broad and nuanced understanding of the global context in which I was operating, enabling me to offer authentic perspectives on matters with an insight that only Fletcher can provide.

The experience convinced me that, in purely commercial terms, the MIB program equipped me with precisely the right set of skills and body of knowledge to excel in an internationally focused financial career that was otherwise entirely new to me, and it was Fletcher that made the opportunity possible.  But the value Fletcher creates for us does not stop there.  In my case, I have participated in the Building Bridges Symposium to learn from the industry’s foremost thought leaders, and have been provided connections to many astonishing alumni in the field, including international banker John Greenwood (F04), prolific builder Philip Asherman (F04), and pioneer Mimi Alemayehou (F98).  These are just a fraction of the resources available to us, all part of a brilliantly executed mission to prepare future leaders for the global stage and illuminate a path forward.

Returning to campus this fall, I was greeted in the hallway by our dean, James Stavridis (F83, F84 and the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, mind you), who inquired about my summer with equal fascination as a parent.  The moment was striking, and reinforced a sentiment solidifying in my mind since I first witnessed those second-year classmates interact.  There is an unmistakable culture that resonates throughout Fletcher, a kind of kinship that binds not only students together, but also us to our faculty, to our staff, and to our alumni.  In my view, our culture is the real prize, the engine of enduring value, and an honor to be a part of.  Like my classmates before me, I know first-years will discover their untapped potential, see locked doors swing open, and become a part of the Fletcher family, as I have; and all after merely one year.

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