Huntsman’s interdisciplinary approach prepared me well to work in multiple sectors.

Namita Desai

Class Year: 2013
Target Language: Spanish
Study Abroad: Universidad de la Habana, Cuba
College Second Major: Hispanic Studies
Wharton Concentration: Business Economics & Public Policy

What is your current professional role?

Country Director – Liberia, GiveDirectly

When you think back on your time at Penn and in the Huntsman Program, how did your experience as a student in the Huntsman Program impact your career decisions and professional development?

Huntsman’s interdisciplinary approach prepared me well to work in multiple sectors. In the 5 years since my graduation, I have worked in management consulting, for a government agency of a foreign government, and for an international NGO, and my work has spanned 5 countries and 3 continents. I would not have had the flexibility, skill set, or cultural competence to do this without the Huntsman Program.

What are the most significant features of your experience at Huntsman?

Immersion in a community of peers from diverse backgrounds and the opportunity to develop business fluency in a language.

How did your semester abroad influence your academic, career, or personal development?

My semester abroad had huge impacts on my career and personal development in two main ways – first, it solidified my Spanish to the point where I could work as a consultant in Latin America and second (more importantly), the coursework provided an incredible counterweight to the traditional economic philosophy taught at Wharton. Not many people who studied Econ in the States can say they spent a semester studying in a Marxist-Leninist department overseas. I now work in international development, and the perspectives I gained in Havana continue to serve me.