What advice would you give someone seeking a career in your field?
As I advise college/university students, it is first important to understand the different options in the field that include logistics, research, finance, policy, marketing, and e-commerce. The second step is to explore the various options to determine the path that one is most interested in taking within the field of international trade.
How did you get your first job in this field?
My first job in the field of international trade was with a consulting firm based in Arlington, VA. While completing my doctoral degree in political science at Brown University, I knew that I also wanted to gain insight into international trade from a practical perspective. To complete this goal, I used my last year to conduct informational interviews in person and over the phone with people who worked for agencies and companies that interested me. I sent an e-mail with my curriculum vitae and requesting an informational interview with a key decision-maker at the consulting firm in Arlington, VA. This person responded by inviting me to visit the company for a job interview, which turned into my first consulting position in the area of international trade.
What personal qualities have helped you become successful?
There are four main qualities, among others, that have helped me to succeed in this field in the private sector, academia, and as an entrepreneur. They are as follows:
- Open-mindedness, which means being willing to embrace new ideas, methods, and skills on a continuous basis.
- Team player, in terms of developing a strong team of mentors, collaborators, and advocates who can help to carry a goal or idea a much greater distance and at a faster pace than doing everything alone.
- Hard work. Many people say to work smarter not harder, which is fine. However, hard work cannot be completely eliminated from any goal if one wants to have a long-lasting effect. Hard work refers to having the patience to learn and grow at a steady pace while making necessary sacrifices to overcome any hurdles and reach the finish line.
- Maintaining the proper perspective. This last point refers to putting one’s work within perspective by not sacrificing one’s health and the quality of time spent with loved ones.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is having control over the work that I do and using that to educate others about what it takes to compete in the global economy in the 21 st century. As an instructor, it is always rewarding to hear from students, some of which have served as interns for my firm, who have started their own businesses or are working in family-run businesses reach out to me to let me know how sharing my academic and practical expertise has been truly beneficial to them. Finally, it has been great growing my network of wonderful, supportive people from government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector.
How do you see the future of the profession? What are the positions in this field with the most potential for growth?
The profession will continue to evolve as importers and exporters continue to search for the most efficient ways to sell their goods and services. I don’t know what that evolution will look like even 10 years from now, because, as we have seen with a number of industries, new disruptors continue to come onto the scene and present completely new models and services that we may not be able to fathom today.
The research component of the field will continue to grow as businesses seek ways to continue to compete as the practice of import and export may change due to technology, etc. The same goes for policymakers continuing to look for ways to develop policies that will help businesses to compete in the global economy. The researchers trained in research methods and design as they apply specifically to the field are those who keep up with these changes, study various models, and can provide data-backed evidence for which approach works and why.