Student Profile: True Development
Amber Walsh í09
Manager: Food For Thought
Post-MBA Position: Save the Children
Iím fascinated by the ways strategic investments in communities can increase the welfare of the people living there. I worked for an economic development consulting firm here in New Haven for my internship. I had a background in international nonprofit development, and I came to SOM to become more knowledgeable about how government and the private sector work. This internship was a perfect way to see those two sectors up close and get a feel for domestic, for-profit community development.
For development to actually happen, government, businesses, and nonprofits canít function in isolated silos; it has to be collaborative. SOM focuses on solving problems by integrating the different perspectives of management. Part of why that works here is that there are students with corporate backgrounds, people from nonprofits, education, the public sector. The atmosphere really lends itself to learning from each other.
I really like the fact that we can apply what weíre learning in a very practical way, and Iíve done every activity I could. I went to South Africa and Namibia as part of the International Experience. I did pro bono work in Colombia, helping to organize groups of recycling scavengers so that they can use economies of scale to have more reliable income. And I took part in a consulting project in India with a nonprofit childrenís book publisher.
I also incorporated a business during my time here at SOM. I work with individual artisans in developing countries to bring their products to a U.S. market. They have a viable product; I have the business and marketing skills. Itís not charity; if they can make a living from their craft, afford to send their kids to school, and train others so that the traditions donít get lost, that is true development.
For now, the business is a side project. I accepted a position at Save the Children doing management operations for their international programs. Iíll be working to structure the management of country offices and developing the reporting and sharing of best practices. Itís an exciting challenge.
Interviewed on May 11, 2009.