Educational background: College of William and Mary, Finance
Past position: Weidemann Associates, International/Economic Development
Last summer I was working in Bamako, Mali, with the UN Development Program. My job was to take a look at all the major industries in Mali and assess which particular investments might have a positive impact on poverty, either by giving jobs to the poor or by linking them up in the value chain of the economic growth patterns. I was really able to apply a lot of the material I learned at MIT Sloan in my macro- and international economics classes, as well as my marketing classes.
In the end I had to select an industry and propose a particular investment. I looked at bio-fuels as a potential solution to the high cost of fuel in Mali. The seeds of the Jatropha plant, which grows very well in that part of the world, can be used to produce fuel. I focused on how the government could better invest in that and how that could draw in the poor — how farmers incorporating the Jatropha plant into their crops could increase their average income. I also looked at how to involve women cooperatives in the collection and processing of the fuel and also different models of distribution and application of the fuel.
Walking away from that experience gave me a better understanding of the reality of working in development. I am at the Kennedy school now getting a second masters degree in public administration and international development, where I am looking at economic frameworks.
MIT Sloan is really great at giving you useful tools, and when I return I want to focus on courses where I am going to be able to gather those tools. The students are so much about helping each other out, too. If you have a particular weakness, there are always at least twenty people around who are going to help you. And I feel like that is a really special thing.