2022 Fellows

The Eighth Cohort


Stockholm School of Economics Fellows

Emna Khadri is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Finance. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Retail Management from the Stockholm School of Economics. During high school, she was selected by the US Department of State’s program ‘Yes Program’. She spent one semester studying at a high school in Missouri, and led the role of youth ambassador to spread awareness about her home country and bridge the gap between the Arab world and the US.
Khadri’s professional experience includes work within a growth capital fund, management consulting at Deloitte and Business Development at a fast growing Tech startup. Having strong interest in social challenges and especially alleviating poverty and ensuring equal chances and rights for individuals, Ms. Khadri is determined to continue her career in impact investing. 
Ms. Khadri is fluent in French, Arabic, and English, and has a proficient understanding of Swedish.

Wuraola Okuwobi is a Masters in Finance student at the Stockholm School of Economics. She graduated top of her class at Afe Babalola University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics. She is interested in sustainable development, particularly its relationship with education, energy access and finance.
Before now, she worked in the international tax divisions at PwC and Andersen where she advised multinationals and domestic group companies on related party transactions. While at Andersen, she also worked with the team responsible for developing and standardizing the firm’s Transfer Pricing practice in Africa and the Middle East.
Wuraola manages the finance operations and sits on the board of ISNAD-Africa, a UNEP accredited organization committed on driving sustainable development in Africa through its various initiatives focused on education, energy, and environment.
As a Wallenberg fellow, she will develop knowledge encompassing the intersection of finance, investments, and sustainability, through an internship at GEF Capital and the courses at Georgetown University. She is a fluent English speaker and has basic knowledge of French and Swedish.

Isak Öhlund is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in International Business. He previously graduated from the Bachelor Program in Business & Economics with an emphasis in Accounting and Finance from the same school. During his undergraduate studies, Mr. Öhlund spent an exchange semester at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.
Mr. Öhlund has additional academic experience from the Stockholm University, where he has studied French and implications of disinformation. Furthermore, he has worked within human resources and assisted a US healthtech start-up. Additionally, Mr. Öhlund has done a 4-week global engagement internship in Uganda as part of his Masters, and alongside his studies, he is part of 180 Degrees Consulting.
Isak’s interests include politics where he sees the growing globalization and political volatility as a call for increased appreciation of institutional considerations into corporate strategy. Mr. Öhlund’s interest in politics is an aspect he looks forward to expanding as a Wallenberg Fellow. Besides that, Mr. Öhlund enjoys cooking and exploring international cuisines. He is a native speaker of Swedish, fluent in English, and has intermediate knowledge of French.
In the coming summer, his internship in Washington will be with Medtronic in the International Relations Team, where he will be analyzing public-private partnerships and regulatory considerations in emerging markets. 

Georgetown University Fellows

Prior to coming to Georgetown, Ms. Adamian worked as a Press Assistant for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, which sparked her interest in private-public partnerships. She has also worked in journalism specializing in public policy coverage and disinformation campaigns. After years of experience in media and the public sector, she is interested in exploring private sector solutions to global crises. She is particularly curious about solutions for addressing wealth inequality and sustainability.
Currently, she is a member of the Georgetown BMW Center’s Europe Desk podcast production team and works as a research intern for the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy. She is fluent in German and Armenian.

Drew Fenner is a Masters candidate in German and European Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he is also pursuing an honors certificate through the Landeggar Program in International Business Diplomacy. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a BA in Political Science and a minor in European Union Studies. During his undergraduate career, he spent summers abroad in Salzburg, Austria and Brussels, Belgium studying EU trade and foreign policy.
Mr. Fenner’s background concentrates on business-government relations in the EU and transatlantic contexts. Most recently, he served as a graduate fellow at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s European Affairs Program, focusing on business challenges and opportunities linked to the EU’s green and digital agendas. Prior to Georgetown, Mr. Fenner worked on issues of EU legislative politics at Brussels-based institutions, including Alber & Geiger, the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), and the Institute for Competitiveness. Broadly, he is focused on creating policy and business landscapes that promote innovation in the areas of energy and climate. In particular, he is interested in the role of financial services in advancing frontier technologies.
Mr. Fenner is a native English speaker and has an advanced knowledge of French language and culture.

Eleanor Rubin is a Master’s candidate in German and European Studies at the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she is pursuing the International Business Diplomacy Honors Program and is most interested in studying the intersection of diplomacy, technology, and business.
Ms. Rubin graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in June 2021, having double majored in Law, Letters, and Society and Germanic Studies. She received the Germanic Studies Department’s Romberg Summer Research Award for her honors undergraduate thesis research. Her interdisciplinary thesis combined topics from both majors, comparing approaches to freedom of speech and internet hate speech regulation in the United States and Germany. 
Ms. Rubin is most focused on international relations, business, and technology, and plans to pursue a related internship in Stockholm this summer. She is fluent in Spanish and German, competent in Latin and Hebrew, and holds United States, German and Israeli citizenships. She enthusiastically looks forward to her internship this summer and gaining experience in international business.

2021 Fellows

The Seventh Cohort


Stockholm School of Economics Fellows

Thomas Atherton is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics, currently pursuing a degree in Economics. He previously graduated from Durham University with a BA in Economics, and is one final exam away from becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Mr. Atherton’s experience is varied, beginning with an internship in a Kosovan think tank and continuing with a graduate role on the London trading floor of U.K. investment bank HSBC. For 3 years, Mr. Atherton worked at HSBC in the Equity Sales team as well as building and leading the industry’s first ESG Sales franchise. In this position, he brokered sustainable investing trade ideas to institutional investors and advised global corporates on ESG considerations in strategy and capital markets transactions. Subsequently, Mr. Atherton created an ESG advisory franchise for corporates and investors at Global Counsel, a political consultancy.
As a Wallenberg fellow, Mr. Atherton hopes to have a positive impact at the intersection between business, politics, and sustainability, including via an internship at GEF Capital Partners, a sustainable private equity firm. Mr. Atherton is a native English speaker, with working proficiency in Swedish and basic French.

Başak Edizgil is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at Stockholm School of Economics with a specialization in International Economics. Before coming to Sweden, she studied at St. Lawrence University in Upstate New York where she majored in Economics and Mathematics with a minor in Arabic Studies as a Davis United World College Scholar.
During her time at St. Lawrence, Ms. Edizgil studied abroad in London where she interned at Afghanistan and Central Asian Association working on issues affecting the refugee community in London and in greater Europe. She also completed an Independent Research Project on the Turkish government’s specific agenda behind pursuing EU membership.
Ms. Edizgil sees growing wealth and income inequality as the defining feature of the modern world. Therefore, her work experiences have generally been concentrated on inequality as a political and an economic problem. After graduating from St. Lawrence University, she worked as a program associate at BOC Capital, a microfinance institution dedicated to bettering the lives of disadvantaged communities in New York City.
This summer, Ms. Edizgil will be interning at Limiar Capital where she will be researching several emerging markets to evaluate macroeconomic conditions and political risk in order to develop an investment thesis for these countries. She is very excited for the internship; it will be her first experience in the area of investing in emerging markets. She is also looking forward to the case intensive classes at Georgetown University and to leveraging them to become better at turning ideas into projects. Ms. Edizgil grew up in Turkey and is a native Turkish speaker. She is also proficient in English and Arabic.

David Huber is a Master of Science in Economics with specialization in International Economics and Data Analytics candidate at the Stockholm School of Economics. He previously graduated top of his class with a Bachelor in Economics from the University of St. Gallen, where he was also a member of the University’s talent coaching program, and spent one semester studying at Bocconi University in Italy.
Mr. Huber’s professional working experience includes working in both the private sector and diplomacy. Before starting his master at the Stockholm School of Economics, he spent six months working for the diplomatic corps at the Swiss Embassy in Argentina, where he advised the Ambassador and the first Diplomat on economic and political topics and represented Switzerland at diplomatic events.
Alongside his studies in St. Gallen, he co-founded the global umbrella organization of all WTO student simulations and presided over the biggest simulation worldwide taking place at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva. On the private sector side, David worked for seven months in financial consulting in Zürich and São Paulo and three months for a healthtech startup in Geneva, completing the Future.Preneurship program in social entrepreneurship.
Through his experience in the private and the public sector, David saw the potential of an improved cooperation of the two sectors in solving many of our most pressing problems. He hopes that his studies at Georgetown and his internship at the IFC will help him to further deepen his understanding of the complex relation between the private and the public world. David is a native Swiss German speaker, fluent in German, English, Spanish, Portuguese and proficient in French, Italian and Swedish.

Georgetown University Fellows


Jessica Meyerzon is a Masters candidate in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she is also pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Her academic and professional interests include public and cultural diplomacy, business relations in Eurasia, and building private-public partnerships to help combat complex global issues.
Ms. Meyerzon previously graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Foreign Languages (Russian/Spanish). After graduating, she spent one year teaching at Baranovichi State University in Belarus as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She has also worked for American Councils for International Education, where she was a participant recruiter for their Future Leaders Exchange program (FLEX) in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Estonia. Ms. Meyerzon has also worked at the University of Washington in Seattle as the Program Coordinator of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies and the Center for West European Studies. She also enjoys dancing salsa and bachata, as well as hiking in different parts of the world.
Ms. Meyerzon is a native English speaker, and is fluent in Russian and Spanish. Her fellowship internship in Stockholm this summer will be at Ericsson, where she will be supporting the internal incubation hub Ericsson ONE. She is looking forward to gaining experience and practical skills in an authentic international business environment.

Iris Thatcher is a Masters candidate in German and European Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign service, where she is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy with a particular interest in economic policy within the Nordic and Arctic regions.
Ms. Thatcher graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington (UW) in December 2019, where she majored in Political Economy and Finnish Language and Culture, along with a minor in Scandinavian Studies. She was also a recipient of the Kalevala Scholarship, awarded by the UW Scandinavian Studies Department in winter of 2019 due to her academic achievement and abiding interest in Finnish studies.
While at UW, she studied abroad in Berlin, where she examined transatlantic populist rightwing movements. This experience inspired her undergraduate senior capstone, where she wrote about the development of the Finnish populist right-wing party, the Perussuomalaiset. In March 2020, she subsequently won the Gurli Aagaard Woods Publication Award for the best essay written for an undergraduate course relating to Scandinavia by the Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada. Ms. Thatcher was also awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Finland for the 2020-2021 school year, but turned it down due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon graduation from the UW, Ms. Thatcher stayed in her hometown of Seattle, Washington and pursued nonprofit opportunities both with The Borgen Project and the World Affairs Council in Seattle. Both experiences enhanced her understanding of social justice issues, where The Borgen Project allowed her to make an impact in addressing global poverty through advocacy work, and the World Affairs Council allowed her to explore the importance of international exchange programs in fostering inter-cultural dialogue.This summer, she will be working with Ericsson’s Partnership and Ecosystem for IoT Team this summer, and she is looking forward to enhancing her understanding of private-private and private-public partnerships. Ms. Thatcher is a native English speaker and is fluent in Finnish, with a basic understanding of German.

2020 Fellows

The Sixth Cohort


Stockholm School of Economics Fellows

Alfred Hedlund is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursing a degree in Finance. He also holds a Bachelors
degree in Business & Economics from the Stockholm School of
Economics, with a concentration in finance. During his bachelor he
spent one semester studying at Smith School of Business at Queen’s
University in Ontario, Canada.
Alongside his studies, Mr. Hedlund works at the management consultancy firm QVARTZ as a Junior Consultant. During his time at QVARTZ he has discovered an interest in how businesses and financial institutions can drive sustainable development, and has also come to realize that there is a huge need for collaboration between the private and public sector. His intention is to develop an in-depth expertise at making these partnerships as efficient as possible.
Mr. Hedlund is fluent in Swedish and English, and has a basic understanding of Spanish.
Mr. Hedlund’s summer internship was spent at Albright Capital, an emerging markets private equity firm, where he was fortunate to work with a range of questions relating to potential investments, portfolio investments, and marketing. The internship allowed him to put his theoretical learnings from his MSc in Finance program into a practical context, while also learning about entirely unrelated topics, such as political risk considerations.

Nastassia Rudak is a Masters student pursuing a degree in Economics and a recipient of the af Jochnick Foundation scholarship at the Stockholm School of Economics. She previously graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Economics and Government.
Nastassia Rudak is a Masters student pursuing a degree in Economics and a recipient of the af Jochnick Foundation scholarship at the Stockholm School of Economics. She previously graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Economics and Government.
Ms. Rudak’s professional experience has been concentrated
mainly in the field of education. She has taught in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, working in a program focused on delivering
education in a post-conflict context. For two years Ms. Rudak
taught Economics in Costa Rica. She worked with various NGOs
to create after-school programs for children from at-risk
backgrounds. Ms. Rudak came to SSE with the goal of ultimately
using her education to create evidence-based policy, addressing the issues of transition economies such as the disproportionately large involvement of the state in the economy, lack of diversification and openness, and corruption. She believes that her experience as a Wallenberg fellow will allow her to develop a global perspective on the issues of transition economies while allowing her to refine the narrow expertise she is looking for.
Ms. Rudak is fluent in Russian, Belarusian, and English, proficient in French and conversational in Croatian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Spanish.
As a Wallenberg Fellow Ms. Rudak interned for the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. As part of their Strategy and Design Team, she explored the potential for the Fund’s intervention into Eastern Europe as well as assisted in framing the directions for their projects in East Africa. The most important milestone for her was the final presentation she did for the Fund, which has the potential to translate into real action a year or two down the line.

Nicolas Powell is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Economics. He also holds a degree in Computational Math from Stanford University.
Following graduation from Stanford, Mr. Powell spent two years in London and the Bay Area working as an engineer at tech startups. Much of his work experience has focused on big data, specifically on realizing solutions to fundamental problems that businesses and governments face in the modern era. Mr. Powell is interested in intelligent policymaking, with a particular passion for alleviating global inequalities in wealth and productivity. He hopes to address these problems through trade policy as well as domestic solutions. Mr. Powell also plans to leverage his experience with information architecture in the pursuit of these goals.
A dual Czech-American citizen, Mr. Powell was raised in California and Colorado. He is fluent in Czech and English and conversational in French.
Last summer, Mr. Powell worked at AES, the energy company, working on a machine learning approach to predict interest rate and currency exchange risks for the company’s portfolio. He was working remotely, as the DC office was closed due to coronavirus.

Georgetown University Fellows

Last summer, Ms. Durling interned at Electrolux focusing on sanctions compliance, which ultimately inspired her masters thesis on the impact of extraterritorial U.S. sanctions on European companies. Her studies at Georgetown have been focused on Europe and the challenges facing global businesses, and this semester she is taking courses in government affairs, international trade law, and investment negotiations. After graduation, Ms. Durling is pursuing a career in regulatory compliance and policy in the private sector in Washington, D.C., and is looking forward to one day getting to visit Stockholm and connect with Wallenberg International Fellows Program fellows living there! 

Yinuo (Jenny) Zhang is a Master of Science in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, concentrating in Global Business and Finance. She is also pursuing an honors certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Ms. Zhang studied Science, Technology and International Affairs at Georgetown University as an undergraduate, focusing on food and agriculture’s role in sustainable development. 
Ms. Zhang has previously pursued professional opportunities that furthered her interests in agriculture and development. During her study abroad in Australia, Ms. Zhang worked on a consulting project evaluating blockchain’s potential to improve financial inclusion within the local dairy industry. She also worked on the Digital Agriculture research team at the World Bank, examining the potential for digital technologies to transform the food system and improve agricultural development outcomes. Through these experiences, she became interested in different vehicles to finance sustainable development and social impact. Most recently, Ms. Zhang interned at the Milken Institute’s Center of Strategic Philanthropy, analyzing philanthropic capital’s potential to catalyze social change. Professionally, she is interested in leveraging private capital and expertise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and generate social impact. A ballroom dancer and philosophy enthusiast, Ms. Zhang also enjoys cooking and experimenting with new recipes from different parts of the world. 
Ms. Zhang is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker and fluent in English. 
As a Wallenberg International Fellow, she has been working with Ericsson’s Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility team since last summer. At Ericsson, Ms. Zhang supported its partnership with UNICEF to bring internet connectivity to schools, researched business models for rural connectivity, and she’s currently supporting its work with the Broadband Commission on digital learning.

Amanda von Trapp is a Masters candidate in German and European Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she is also pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. She is interested in transatlantic relations and building partnerships between the public and private sectors to develop innovative tools and systems that solve global issues. Ms. von Trapp previously graduated summa cum laude from Portland State University with a B.S. in Political Science and International Development. After receiving a high distinction for her honors research in European Union defense integration, she was selected to author a public opinion project on the same subject for the European Union Studies Association. Through her diplomatic work with the World Affairs Council of Oregon, she received the 2018 Global Ties Emerging Leader Award and seeks to use that responsibility to build relationships and both find and champion cooperative solutions to international problems. 
Ms. von Trapp is a native English speaker and proficient in German. 
Last summer, Ms. Von Trapp worked on a research project for Saab concerning EU industrial policies initiatives. Her interest in joining the Wallenberg International Fellows Program started with her love for ABBA and the exciting opportunity to work with a Swedish Company in Stockholm over the summer

Changing your perspective in Washington D.C.

By Mats Kröger
No one arrives in a city like Washington, D.C. without a prefabricated image in their head. We have all seen countless portrayals of the city in movies, TV shows, books and news articles. Washington, the city of fictional president Frank Underwood and actual President Donald Trump. Washington, the city where history was made when Abraham Lincoln ended slavery and when Martin Luther King gave his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. Washington, the city where the future of the world is shaped by institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.
Looking out the window of the Wallenberg Fellows’ shared flat perfectly reinforces these expectations: Located next to Arlington cemetery with a view of the Washington monument, the scene reproduces images we have seen a thousand times. However, the city presents itself in a nuanced way that challenged both my traditional perceptions of America in general and it’s capital city specifically.
Being the political center of the United States, Washington D.C. is a city that encompasses people of all viewpoints. Over the last few months, chance encounters with a variety of people ranging from congressional aides of both parties, to Black Lives Matter activists, and devoted Libertarians, exposed me to a variety of unique opinions and world views. This diversity constantly provokes discussion and a city shared by loyal supporters of both American political parties presents a brilliant opportunity to step out of one’s bubble. Additionally, Georgetown’s diverse student body guarantees that you will always find someone to discuss even the most specific issue with. This exchange is further facilitated by D.C.’s cultural events. I will never forget the theater play “The Bitter Game” on police brutality that Agris and I watched together, which provoked an all-night discussion on issues of race, social justice and inequality.
Being located geographically in between the historical North and South, Washington D.C. is also the perfect city to explore the American past. Over a dozen free museums around the National Mall provide information on every crucial event in American history. Even the physical locations where these historic events took place are not far. The Wallenberg flat lies not only within a short bike ride of the Lincoln memorial, but walking ten minutes in the opposite direction, one discovers General Lee’s mansion. Within a three hour bus ride lie both the historic Northern city of Philadelphia and the old confederate capital of Richmond. Besides appealing to the history geek within me, this exposure to American history helps to explain how the American mindset came to be and how American institutions where shaped.
Finally, interning in Washington, D.C. is more than working at the State Department, World Bank or IMF. Instead, the city is home to a wide range of institutions of every size and form. In our internships, the current cohort of Wallenberg Fellows has worked at institutions ranging from a 700-employee think tank, to a 40-employee NGO and a even 5-employee hedge fund. Given the nature of the program, we are exposed to all of these worlds and meet representatives of an even wider spectrum of organizations. A lot of this happens by coincidence: quite often, the person you share an Uber Pool with turns out to be a speech writer working in a ministry or an engineer working on new infrastructure projects for the federal government.
All these components make participating in the Wallenberg International Fellows Program more than just an excellent academic or professional experience. It goes without saying that the internship opportunities are unique and that the teaching at Georgetown is amazing. But more than that, the program helps to facilitate a better understanding of the fascinating country that the United States of America continue to be.

Working at a research institution in post-factual times

By Beatrice Gohdes
On a day in early November of 2016, Stockholm experienced a rare moment when the public transport system broke down under a mountain of snow, not witnessed so forcefully in early winter during the last 100 years. The chill factor was compounded by the news of the presidential election in the United States. That icy-cold November day exemplified the attitude most European media and mainstream politicians held towards the political reality unfolding in Washington: namely the feeling of a looming catastrophe and the bewilderment at the endless blizzard of tweets coming from the president-elect.
About six months into his divisive presidency (it was the Monday after the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement), I arrived in Washington, D.C., where I could only describe the atmosphere in the Capital – with the prevailing weather conditions – as steaming-hot. A mere 4% of Washingtonians had voted for the new president. And yet he now lives in their midst – as do I. Biking to work every morning along a truly picturesque route, I cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge, roll past the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and on to the Washington Monument. Even along this route, I can feel the tension, as I have been repeated spectator to fellow commuters raising their fists in frustration at the White House when it comes into view just before they turn around the Monument.
Against this backdrop I started my internship, the first leg of the Wallenberg International Fellows Program, at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank focusing on how to tackle environmental issues by leveraging economic opportunities to create human well-being. In the discussions I have had with my colleagues on the new political reality here, I have been surprised once again: the underlying mood is calmly-collected and focused on how to deal with reality – quite a contrast to the incessant media outrage at home. The strategy appears to be a calm focus on a structured approach to achieving long-lasting impact in times of political turbulence.
Admittedly, the mood at WRI is far from jovial. My colleagues are especially frustrated by the new administration’s open ignorance towards science and facts. Yet there is a sense of quiet optimism and the will to focus on the silver lining that this situation has brought with it. For example, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement galvanized almost all the other signatories to publicly re-declare their intention to fulfill the targets set for themselves. This new-found sense of global unity is quite encouraging when working towards environmentally healthier and more prosperous communities.
Still, I asked myself, how can a think tank create change in such an unfavorable environment? Over the course of my summer internship I believe I have been fortunate enough to find an answer: First, optimism is essential, as it helps to conceive a strategy bold enough to make a difference. Quite naturally, this avoids paralysis. Second, in times when facts seem to become irrelevant, a consistent output of messages that are backed up by solid research and facts is even more important. This builds trust in the long term for the simple reason that it aspires to truth. Moreover, if these messages are strategically placed, they can go a long way towards influencing the right decision makers, now and in the future.

Data Analytics: Bridging the Language of Academic and Business Worlds

By Christian Conroy
“Well, I mean, it can’t really technically be predictive, you know,” I stated plainly to my boss, assuming he would understand given the type and quality of the data we were working with.
“But it has to be. We want to be able to use this as a practical tool,” he said back, his eyebrows raised almost as if to say, “How are you not getting this?”
Coming from a meager data analysis background, it was only natural that one of the main roles I would fill within the Business Market Intelligence & Strategy team at Electrolux during my tenure as a Wallenberg Fellow would be one focused on elevating team capabilities from data management to data analysis. The task was to use historical macroeconomic indicator data for multiple countries across multiple years to make inferences about country market size using future projections of the same macroeconomic data. While I was happy to have the opportunity to apply the statistical analysis skills that I had spent the past few years cultivating through both a Fulbright Research Grant at an experimental economics institution and a first academic year of a public policy program at Georgetown, I knew that trying to even approach something that could be labeled as predictive would be a difficult challenge.
Unlike previous roles I have had in risk analysis and business intelligence, the human capital that comprises modern business intelligence teams is no longer centered on qualitative expertise in the political nuances of specific foreign governments, the unique cultural aspects of consumers abroad, or the drivers of non-market economic policies in protectionist economies. Instead, modern teams consist of experts in IT integration, statistical analytics, data visualization, and project management. Similar to most industries – roughly 47% of jobs in the US are expected to be automated over the next two decades according to a study from the Oxford Martin School – business intelligence as a sector is now focused more on cost and labor saving tools than it is on human labor. Hence, it was my task to further this trend within the Electrolux business intelligence team and pave the way for the company to begin investing in advanced data analytics tools that would automate the predictive model I had been tasked with creating.
Responding to the point made above by my boss and later discussing the issue with colleagues, I defended my doubts about any model’s predictive capabilities by ignorantly spewing off a hodgepodge of esoteric econometrics terms to try and prove that the word predictive was often overused in the business world – autocorrelated errors, multilevel fixed effects, bias and endogeneity, statistical significance and hypothesis testing, multicollinearity. At a company retreat, I proudly showed scatter plots and regression equations and explained how two-way fixed effects regressions on panel data worked, only to be met with relative silence and mild confusion from the audience. Of course none of these words meant anything in the context of business intelligence. The words, perhaps subconsciously spouted off more to make it seem like I knew what I was talking about than to actually demonstrate it, naturally fell on deaf ears.
Discontent to let the business world triumph over the principles the last few years of training had taught me, I reached out to a number of professors at Georgetown to either help me understand the best methods to use in building a predictive model or at least join me in looking down upon a money-hungry business world that cares more about selling a product to an equally uninformed audience than it does in demonstrating real statistical validity. To my chagrin, I received no such support. Instead, the professors I reached out to responded back with a bunch of case-by-case jargon, emphasizing in the end that what methods I used in the analysis ultimately rested on what the end goals were. One professor even advised me to “impose minimal restrictions on the underlying causal relationships,” focusing instead on using a guess and check strategy that attempts to match up predicted values to the actual values to the greatest extent possible.
I was shocked. I was frustrated. If the model is not causal in some way, then what is the point? Even if they weren’t going to directly provide me any code to do the analysis, I had hoped that they would at least provide me with a cookie-cutter solution that I could later google enough about to figure out how to operationalize. Instead of receiving such guidance, the professors were essentially telling me that all of those rules that I had thought were ironclad – errors cannot be correlated with your independent and dependent variables, something must be controlled for when the value of time period 2 is based on the value of time period 1, a model is not predictive when there is no random sampling and the creation of control and treatment groups – were all flexible. What they were telling me was that it was more important to tailor any analysis I do to the end goal of the business, namely to make a practical predictive tool, than it was to demonstrate statistical validity.
In the end, despite all of the self-learning I had to do in order to attempt to develop an even partly workable model, all I had to do was try to create something that predicted market size numbers that were as close as possible to the actual market size numbers of the historical data. Though it was difficult to let myself sleep knowing that the model I was developing was full of statistical faux pas, it was also liberating to move beyond an academic world often defined by rules and textbooks and into one of money-making decisions defined more by the ends than by the means. The entire experience has caused me to rethink exactly what I am learning within my graduate programs and hopefully start a positive dialogue with colleagues and professors at the McCourt School of Public Policy about how coursework can focus not just on empirically evaluating government policy interventions but also on leveraging predictive analytics for business applications.
The takeaway is that new experiences often remind us of how constrained we are by the environment that we have previously been in and developed a comfort for. Just as it is easier for a child to learn a language than for an adult who has already built up rigid sets of rules in his or her mind, it is often easier for someone to learn something when they come in with a blank slate. Putting oneself in an environment where everyone is effectively speaking a different language – that held doubly true for a team here that was comprised largely of Italians and Swedes – can actually be constructive, especially if it forces one to challenge their assumptions or admit that they don’t understand something as well as they thought they did.

Stockholm’s Solitude: A Visit to Artipelag

By Kathleen Burke
Minutes away from the city of Stockholm, Sweden lies a labyrinth of 30,000 islands. Despite the intricacy of the archipelago, the evergreen covered rock formations form a uniform landscape. In doing so, the plethora of islands evoke an undeniable sense of minimalism. Situated amidst the calm, dark Baltic Sea where Viking ships once reigned, the archipelago invites sailors, family vacationers, and tourists (like me). Historically and culturally, the Stockholm archipelago is as central to Swedish identity as the legendary Vasa ship or taking a fika, or coffee break. The seafaring nation relies on the archipelago for business and leisure alike. As home to summer cottages dating back generations, as a destination for ferry tours, and as inspiration for artists and writers, the archipelago is essential to Sweden’s rich maritime tradition. In fact, Sweden manufactures and sells almost 10,000 and 30,000 boats per year, respectively. But the ratio of adults to pleasure boat is a favorable eight to one — almost three times that of the US. Along with its economic and social importance, the archipelago commands an uncanny tranquility – an abstract quality only perceived. It stimulates and calms the eye simultaneously, inviting both still fixation on one islet and movement across the ornate pattern of islands.
How can such a boundless geographical feature be at the same time simple? The non-obvious reason for this paradox of simple profundity is the Swedish concept “lagom”, meaning “just enough.” While lagom usually refers to portions or objects, it can be applied to the landscape itself. No better example illustrates the notion of a lagom landscape than the museum Artipelag. Situated on Varmdö, the understated cedar and glass architecture absorb the archipelago. In a certain sense, Artipelag reconciles the vastness of the land with sleek lines and modern artwork. Interestingly, the museum founder Björn Jakobson is the founder of BabyBjörn, the innovative child carrier company dedicated to simplifying everyday life. The museum boasts a metamorphic rock originating about two billion years ago, which is placed in ironic juxtaposition to a lively café. In synthesizing forms of old and new, the museum and its works embody and maintain a state of lagom.
Along the same vein, UK-based artist and writer Edmund de Waal (b. 1964) recently debuted a collection of 40 minimalist clusters of ceramic vessels at Artipelag. The artist interprets the vessels after they come out of the kiln. Then, in collaboration with museum curator Bo Nilsson, they arranged the works to optimize the space and light flooding in from outdoors. The result is a greenhouse filled with white porcelain. De Waal insists that whiteness and silence are interchangeable. By extension, reflecting on silence catalyzes progress. The peaceful sanctuary uses uniformity to convey this message.
The next corridor of the museum holds a seamless counterpart to de Waal’s vessels. The exhibit by Giorgio Morandi (b. 1890), a world renowned Italian artist, displayed a series of still life paintings in monochrome tones. The oil paintings provide even more legitimacy to the idea of lagom in practice. Despite the difference between the fine and decorative arts, both Morandi and de Waal complement the museum structure and reinforce one another. Morandi’s internationally renowned still life works capture what de Waal considers “small epiphanies”, referring to the cathartic moment when you allow an object to figuratively “slow into fullness”. De Waal explains, “These objects occupy space in our world and in our thinking.”
Whether produced by the same artist (or tectonic shift), these similar objects (or islands) are impactful repetitions of the same motif. As de Waal reflects himself in his works, visitors at Artipelag can broaden their thinking. When acknowledging that still life happens, the abstractness of reality becomes clear. Still life can then be considered a collection of small serendipities that “tell stories and hold memories.” The avant garde museum is a space that fosters reflection — but not to the point of nostalgia. While the objects and islands may appear homogenous and stagnant, eventually a shift occurs to give them new meaning. The exhibit stimulates personal reflection and new perspectives. Chance error makes these related objects and landforms slightly different. They affirm nature but also contribute to their surroundings in a way that is not overbearing, rather “just enough” to have an impact.
The concept that objects tell stories was foreign to me, but I now relate to the idea that still life can be dynamic. The uniformity of objects (and landforms) allows for acknowledging what is universal before moving forward as an individual. They accept nature but cannot change it. In this way, objects and people relate to one another based on their connection to nature. Stockholm’s 30,000 islands and de Waal’s multitude of sculptures evoke the same sentiment: less can be more. Achieving lagom provides a sense of solitude that is both reflective yet optimistic. In the face of the influx of immigrants to Sweden and changing international pressures, it is humbling and motivating to visit places like Artipelag, where creativity is a platform for building new ways of thinking and adapting to change. The experience extends when you walk onto the Artipelag boardwalk, which reinforces the network between art and nature. De Waal’s vessels can be viewed as books, cityscapes, tree trunks, or chimneys. With “just enough” imagination, still life continues to happen, and perspectives can continually enrich culture.

 

 

Public or private?

By Piotr Rozwałka
As I have just graduated and I am about to start my first full-time job, it seems like a good time to take a look back and reflect on my experience as a Wallenberg Fellow.
Upon arriving in Washington last summer, I had a tough nut to crack. Specifically, I hoped that my time in the district would help me find an answer to the elusive question of which job would best suit my wide array of diverging interests. As a Wallenberg Fellow, I received the best aid possible: an amazing internship at an environmental think-tank, dozens of events and seminars at top-notch institutions, lunches and meetings with knowledgeable people in leadership positions, and superb classes at the School of Foreign Service. They all helped me to discover my passion and excitement for the energy sector. It brings the economic, political, social, commercial, and environmental together, not to mention its growing relevance as we go forward, offering an incredible combination to be working on.
Finding my focus ensured that I was full of excitement throughout the fall semester and inspired me to continue working hard to understand the energy sector as well as I could. Together with Hannes Tordengren, also a member of the First Wallenberg Cohort, we started a research project on the Ukrainian gas sector and prepared to move to Ukraine in the spring to pull it off. I attended Paul Sullivan’s class on energy and security, began co-operating with the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and was meeting various experts asking them to share their experience with me. Another crucial question, however, was looming from behind the corner. Upon graduation, should I go into the public or private sector? Some of my friends already had a strong preference from early on—I on the other hand found myself deliberating between the pros and cons of each. Would I go for a higher sense of urgency, a chance to fulfill my civil obligation to give back to society, a better work-life balance, and, most importantly, an ability to take part in the policy-making process—which the public sector seemed to be offering, or opt for a higher career pace, wider responsibilities, a more dynamic work environment, better remuneration, and finally an excellent occasion to get market and industry expertise—all promised by private sector companies.
Stuck with this dilemma, I decided to take the opportunity which the Wallenberg Program offered and reached out to people I respected for their expertise. I made an effort and managed to personally meet with a former US ambassador and an energy expert, a former foreign minister of one of the EU countries, managers from the energy private sector, executives from the EBRD and the World Bank, and think-tank energy experts from the Brookings Institution and the Atlantic Council. While I expected the private sector managers to praise their sector, I must admit that I was taken aback by some of the other experts telling me that although they advise me to go public, I should not do it upon graduation. Their argument was rather simple in its nature: the transition to a public or non-governmental job is always possible once I have acquired the market expertise, but the transition from public to private could prove much harder. As I began to appreciate, a proper exposure to the private sector could only add to a better understanding and more effective execution of policy-making or non-governmental work.
In other words, I realized that my choice was not as dichotomous as I may have initially assumed. After some years in the private sector I may revisit my ambitions and—should I one day decide to switch—my experience on both sides will likely make me a better policy-maker than if I had gone directly to a think-tank or a public institution.

A Room with a View

By Sebastian Röing
Beep! Beep!
Alright, I’m awake.
Beep! Beep!
Alarm turned off. Gaze blearily out the window. The Washington monument appears shrouded in early morning humidity.
I was not awake, after all.
Words pass through my mind – humidity, hot, backpack, humidity. Do I need to buy a new deodorant? Yes. Not quite acclimatized to the transition from Stockholm to Washington D.C.
6:00am. Stumbling out of the bedroom I learn that 8 people retweeted something about Donald Trump and a news anchor. Some habitual buzz gets going. What sort of nonsense is he up to now? Read. Read. Jeez. There will be plenty of chatter around the coffee machine at the office today.
Time to get on with the routine. Banana milkshake, to-do lists, rowing machine at the gym on the third floor, fried egg and peanut butter sandwiches, iron shirt. If there were a Guide to metropolitan, city-jumping life it would probably say something like – ‘A cumbersome yet practical morning routine can do much to make up for the loss of familiarity when moving from one place to the other. That is, of course, if you want to shake the feelings of unfamiliarity in the first place. Since most people spend a considerable amount of time mulling over how they can get away from stuff, it is in fact a little strange that you would. But that is beside the point’.
The walk to the bus is about 500 meters. After 2 meters it is time to adjust the backpack so it does not stay in one place for too long. After 10 meters one usually considers holding the backpack like a briefcase instead. Given the extra exertion it is usually best to abandon this alternative rather quickly. After 20 meters there is a brief and somewhat subdued moment of panic. After 30 meters it is time to put your hands to the straps and give your shoulders a breather. Finally, after 50 meters and a drenched lower back all ambitions are gone and you think quietly to yourself – ‘Whoever showed up dry to work in 100° F (36° C) and 80% humidity anyway?’.
The A/C at the office provides a welcome sense of relief. And the short elevator ride gives just enough time to shake out the worst droplets from what is left of your shirt. But you are inside. You are safe. And a whole day of interesting work awaits. Coffee with the other research analysts, a roundtable discussion about the prospects of banking union in the EU, and plenty of bond prospectuses to read. Another entry in that Guide for metropolitans would have been – ‘There is no such thing as a universal concept of “lunch”. Whoever thought so has clearly never spent too much time outside of France. The normal thing to do in the U.S. is to have a sandwich by your computer, trying to master the art of looking simultaneously at an Excel spreadsheet and the aforementioned sandwich’.

Sebastian Blog 2
Arlington, VA, just outside our apartment, at night

Returning home around dinner time, planes passing overhead through the cinematic sky, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here. I am one of those young people who have benefitted from globalization significantly, and who Bensam so aptly describes in his thoughtful post below. With the generous support from people at the Stockholm School of Economics, Georgetown University and financial support from the Dr. Tech. Marcus Wallenberg foundation, I will get to spend 6 months of my life in Washington D.C. A global melting pot of politics and business 4097 miles from my hometown of Malmö, Sweden. My work is at the Peterson Institute of International Economics in the fields of financial regulation and international law. Hence, throughout my 6 months in D.C., I get to work with people in the absolute edge of their fields, on pressing policy issues that will shape the world of tomorrow. I will also get to study full time at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Presently in Sweden to renew my visa, I look forward to returning to D.C. to start my new courses in e.g. business and investment negotiation and meet new colleagues and friends. And many more mornings of staring blearily at the Washington monument.

Impressions of a DC summer

By Alexa Straus
During my first (and only) visit to DC in 2013, I immediately fell in love with the city. The artworks in the Hirshhorn Museum, the music at the Kennedy Center and the monumental reminders of history lit up against the night sky – everything mesmerized me. Studying at Georgetown University has been a dream of mine ever since, deferred by the high costs of studying in the US. Therefore, when I heard about the Wallenberg International Fellowship Program, I did not question whether to apply for one second. It somehow manages to combine most of the rather scattered items from my CV and thus also the driving interests behind those. It is exactly what I have been looking for.
Now two months into my summer internship I realize, that three years ago, walking through the nation’s capital as a tourist only gave me a hint of the unrivalled amount of power concentrated in DC and for entirely different reasons, I am again amazed by the city. The Wallenberg Fellowship provides me with the opportunity to embark into this sphere of experts, influence and networking.
As part of my internship I had the privilege of hearing Christine Lagarde speak about the central challenges posed on global development, participating in a meeting where the directors for Mexico, Canada and the US of the Inter-American Development Bank discussed the priorities for the 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit and meeting senior economists from the World Bank and the IMF. Sebastian and I were also part of the lucky small group of J1-interns picked to attend a Q&A with Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, at the State Department. Listening to these experts, I am time after time impressed by their ability to develop high-level insights on complex issues and back them up with just the right amount of detail. At various embassy events, I have had the opportunity to practice my networking skills – an area in which as a German I can definitely learn a lot from Americans.

Alexa Blog 2
Christine Lagarde at the Center for Global Development

Besides getting to attend a bunch of cool meetings, I also really enjoy the actual work of my internship. In June I joined the enterprise wide international relations department at Medtronic, a medical technology company. The small team covers an immense variety of topics from market access issues like trade barriers and price controls to research about the correlation of health and economic growth. With no background in health, it took me a while to get accustomed. At the end of the first weeks I had a list of about 50 acronyms, and those were only the most important ones. Besides soaking in all the information about healthcare related policies and medical technology, I am also fortunate to get incredible insights into the dynamics of public – private sector interactions. The focus of my internship is on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). My major project for the summer was to collect internal and external best practices and come up with ideas about how to share these throughout the corporation to empower Medtronic employees around the world to drive PPPs in their countries. To top it all off, the team at Medtronic gave me one of the warmest welcomes I have experienced throughout my studies and previous internships. With a lot of interesting things to be learned and done, I am glad to return to the team in the fall.
Finally I would like to pick up a point Marta, one of the fellows in the first cohort, wrote about in an earlier blog post as it coincides with my main take away from the summer. She wrote that one of the three ways in which the Wallenberg Fellowship broadened her mindset is through the realization that changing the world is possible. Through my internship in the healthcare sector I can observe daily how NGOs, governmental agencies, corporations and individuals keep joining their forces and working towards the improvement of people’s lives. Inspired by numerous passionate people and their achievements, I am re-considering a career path in foreign policy or development work – an option previously shut down by the resignation about bureaucracy and the seemingly Sisyphean nature of the work.
For now I have returned to Germany to apply for my student visa. My two weeks in Germany are filled with joy as I get to see my friends and family and excitement to start my classes at Georgetown, play field hockey and hopefully enjoy some of the nature around DC once the weather has cooled down to Swedish summer temperatures.
%d bloggers like this: