A globally focused leader from Port au Prince, Haiti, Clifford Reginald Nau, SFMBA '22, managed the tech incubator Alpha Haiti and was a professor of public policy at the Centre de Techniques de Planification et d’Economie Appliquee before joining the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA. He has an extensive background in organizational, entrepreneurial, and corporate strategy as well as business development in emerging and frontier markets. Here, Clifford shares what brought him to the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA.
Why did you decide to join the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA?
I have been working with the Haitian government to create entrepreneurship programs, including a tech incubator called Alpha Haiti. The idea has been to support young entrepreneurs in Haiti who someday will create global enterprises. Here’s the thing: There’s an entrepreneurial will in Haiti, but there just hasn’t been a way. I’m determined to change that.
I certainly had the passion and the dedication before coming to MIT but felt I didn’t have the level of know-how necessary. I thought that, through MIT, I could lift the Caribbean ecosystem. Also, the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA is one full-time year, and that worked for me. I didn’t want to be away longer, but I wanted to be able to immerse myself in the entrepreneurial universe at MIT and create a pipeline between MIT and Caribbean entrepreneurs and innovators. This format turned out to be exactly what I had hoped it would be.
Did you have a favorite course?
Many. I give Entrepreneurial Strategy with Scott Stern five glowing stars. There were so many eye-opening aspects of that course that will help me guide Haitian entrepreneurs. It was a WOW, to be sure. And System Dynamics—what a concept! It forces you to retool your mental model and applies to how you think about everything in life. Of course, I found many other classes helpful and essential to my career, such as Developing Strategic Insight with Duncan Simester and Breakthrough Ventures with Anjali Sastry. One of the most impactful: the New Enterprise class with Bill Aulet, SF ‘94. He is the director of The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. I developed a business model from A to Z using the 24 steps in his entrepreneurship workbook. We’re talking about disciplined entrepreneurship.
What is it like to work side-by-side for a year with such an international group?
To me, that was one of the draws of the program, and I was determined to get to know every Fellow. The diversity was actually greater than I was expecting, because it’s not just people from 41 countries—it’s people from so many different industries, cultures, backgrounds, and families. It was fascinating to pick up life wisdom from students from Africa, Japan, India, and Latin America—and to have dinner at the homes of Fellows whose food was completely unknown to me. I found the Fellows to be equally eager to hear about Haiti. The environment felt like a safe space where we could express ourselves. I am looking forward to a close relationship with all of them for the next 20 years and beyond.
What was it like to be in a leadership program set at MIT?
The Caribbean region is far behind in innovation compared to the rest of the world. It’s time we stepped up. My goal is to change the economic landscape from a cash economy to a digital economy. Tourism, the creative economy, marketing and retail, agriculture, remittances, diaspora engagement, off-shore banking—how can we tap opportunities like those without a digital system, without a fintech solution? How can Haitian innovators commercialize their ideas? How can I create a community with more opportunity? How can I supply innovative solutions to elevate the Caribbean standard of living? These are problems that can best be solved with the knowledge and resources I have gained at MIT.
How would you say this program has changed you?
The MIT Sloan Fellows MBA opened my eyes in many ways and made clear to me the extent of my responsibility toward the young generation in Haiti. I feel blessed to have had the experience, and I want to see more Haitians go to MIT. We won approval to start a Caribbean Business Association at MIT, and I hope to be able to help the team kick-off a Caribbean Business Forum next year. It’s time for us to show the world what we’re made of: a region of 15 countries only three hours away from the United States. We should be important players on this stage.