In 2006, Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi was working for American Express, based in Bahrain, with portfolio oversight of countries spanning the African Maghreb, the Nile Valley, Levant, and the Persian Gulf. That summer, cross-border skirmishes between Israel and the Lebanon-based non-state group Hezbollah erupted into full-scale war.
Chaturvedi, who had earned an MBA in finance and strategy five years earlier, suddenly found himself in a team trying to “ring-fence” the portfolio, to estimate business losses that could result from the war, and to explore ways to mitigate the company’s exposure—all while ensuring continuity in service for customers living in areas impacted by the war.
Unexpectedly, as they discovered, customers were more—not less—diligent about their credit lines, paying back their loans more punctually than in times of relative peace.
“Ultimately, we rose to the occasion—as my business experiences and education had trained me to do,” says Chaturvedi. “But we were reactive. A Fletcher graduate in my position would have been proactive and prepared—anticipating the potential for imminent war and putting together a contingency strategy well ahead of the event.”