Monday, July 31, 2017

Reflections on the MAGR Degree: A Life Changing Year in Bologna

After completing his academic coursework in the Master of Arts in Global Risk (MAGR) in Bologna, Aleksandr Skop is spending his summer working at Global Guardian in McLean, Virginia. Below are his reflections on the summer experience and his year in Bologna.  For more information on the MAGR program, please visit our website.

Aleksandr Skop at Work
As what I can only describe as a life-changing year in Bologna drew to an end, I had to reluctantly leave Europe and return back to the Washington, DC metropolitan area. As the final part of the MAGR degree, I would spend this summer interning at Global Guardian in McLean, Virginia. Global Guardian is a global travel security provider, which offers tailor-made security, monitoring, and emergency response solutions to clients, ranging from 24/7 surveillance of properties, to medical evacuation in over 80 countries around the globe. At Global Guardian, I work under the Lead Intelligence Analyst, helping to produce intelligence briefs, safety reports, and real-time analysis, as well as cyber-security solutions. The internship is full-time, with flexible hours, and two months in duration.

The MAGR degree gave me the tools necessary to conduct qualitative and quantitative risk analysis in finance, international relations, economics, and other subjects. The most important aspect of risk analysis is the ability to not only properly assess, but to be able to communicate and deliver the analysis in a clear, concise manner. Among the most crucial “hard” skills the MAGR program has helped me develop is an effective writing style. At Global Guardian, my primary responsibility is writing weekly analytical briefs on the most pressing world events pertaining to clients’ personal and business interests. Some examples include: terrorist attacks in Europe, global cyber-security risks posed by ransomware attacks, the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program, and economic and security impacts of falling oil prices. Other tasks included open source research and analysis of a high-profile client’s online presence in order -to assess potential threats to their family and business. 

The work environment at Global Guardian has been welcoming and friendly. The company is incredibly flexible and accommodating in terms of hours, and the staff is eager to answer any and all questions about the business model, operations, and mission of Global Guardian. I am incredibly satisfied with my decision to complete my Capstone Project here, and believe it is a hugely positive experience in my professional growth and development.

Aleksandr Skop
MAGR Student
SAIS Europe 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MAGR Curriculum Provides Students Ideal Setting to Learn and Test Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches Towards Understanding Risk and Uncertainty

The Master of Arts in Global Risk (MAGR) is an intensive 13-month, cohort-based program offered at SAIS Europe, which gives students the necessary skills to become experts in the field of risk. Students spend ten months in the classroom and three months completing the capstone project, which can be fulfilled by working an internship or by writing a 10,000-words original research paper. 

Following her academic year at SAIS Europe, Angelina Magal, a student in the program's first cohort, is doing her summer internship at Philips, in The Netherlands. Below are Angelina’s reflections on the experience.

Angelina Magal
I was offered the opportunity work on a project at Philips, where I am interning with the Risk Management, Markets and Business Development support (RMMBDs) team. RMM&BDs supports and advises Country and Markets on the proactive identification, prioritization and mitigation of risks (strategic, operational, financial, compliance) related to new business-models, solutions, strategic partnerships and entry strategies in high-risk countries. The internship is four months long and based in the Philips headquarters in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

During the academic year, we covered qualitative and quantitative approaches towards understanding risk and uncertainty. My summer internship is an ideal setting to apply these skills in a business context.  One of the most interesting takeaways from this experience is that the MAGR degree ultimately provides you with a holistic, multifaceted understanding of risk. I constantly combine a variety of skills, methodologies, and theories that are sourced from the different classes I took.  For example, when analyzing country risks, I draw upon knowledge from economics and international relations courses for the overall context. However, to tailor my assessment towards Philips in particular, I simultaneously utilize the ability to incorporate “point of view” in risk assessment, and depend on a thorough understanding of corporate finance.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The environment in the RMMBDs team is engaging and supportive, and everyone brings a self-motivated, collaborative and positive attitude to the office.  This atmosphere is pervasive throughout Philips, and I am looking forward to the remainder of the internship.

Angelina Magal
MAGR Student
SAIS Europe 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Internship in Bogotá Puts Theory into Practice

As part of a series of articles chronicling our students’ internships, below are Eli Birgé's reflections on his internship experience in Bogotá, Colombia. Eli, a student in the Master of Arts (MA) program focusing on Latin American Studies, tells us about how he merges theory and practice in the Colombian capital.

My summer internship in Bogotá has been an elegant capstone to two semesters of study in Bologna,
Eli Birgé
Italy. The experience has led me from Latin Europe to Latin America, from the Apennines to the Andes and from development theory into practice.

The Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF) is Latin America's home-grown development bank. The infrastructure team where I work is dedicated to improving Colombia's global competitiveness and domestic inclusivity through improved industrial integration and mobility.

Now is a particularly exciting time for Colombian infrastructure. Despite being endowed with immense natural resource wealth (second only to Brazil on the continent), Colombia's industrial hubs and ports are disjointed from each other by three Andean cordilleras, jungles, rivers and lousy roads. CAF's concerted effort to break this socio-economic bottleneck could unlock the country's impressive growth potential. 

My role on the infrastructure team has given me the chance to burnish the skills I acquired at Johns Hopkins SAIS, particularly in project finance, Excel modelling, and Spanish. Most projects are ad hoc, and my supervisor gives me the latitude to tailor them to my professional objectives. 

JHU SAIS Alumni reunion in Bogotá
Although the workdays are long--about eleven hours--Bogotá offers plenty of diversions. Recently I was able to attend a JHU SAIS alumni reunion and on weekends I take my bicycle onto the non-motorized ciclovias, discover a new fruit at the outdoor markets, and enjoy the several salsa clubs. In all, my summer internship following my year at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe, has been off to a great start.

Eli Birgé
MA Student
SAIS Europe 2017