Back from Dubai

September 19, 2007

I never thought when I started business school that I would be spending my summer representing the United Nations in the Middle East. I initially pursued the investment banking route, thinking I'd spend my summer days (and nights) crunching numbers on Wall Street. Instead, I found myself sitting at a Yale SOM luncheon with Georg Kell, Executive Head of the United Nations Global Compact. His lecture focused on Corporate Social Responsibility, and the UN's role of acting as a facilitator for CSR initiatives around the world. After a fascinating chat with Mr. Kell, I sent him a resume, not thinking much would come out of it other than a 'Thanks for your application" auto-generated email. Three weeks later I had an internship lined up at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Since the UN internship was unpaid, I was only able to accept this internship due to my sponsorship by the Yale SOM internship fund. The fund is 100% student sponsored, and I was pleased to realize it was enough to cover my living expenses in Manhattan for the entire summer. I never would have been able to accept an internship like this without the funding from SOM. Thank you Food For Thought (for those who don't know, Food For Thought is a student-operated store in Yale SOM. All proceeds go directly to the internship fund). The UN is a very surreal place. Upon entering, I felt I was entering the set of the movie, 'The Interpreter'. It was fascinating to walk down the hallways, basking in the history, world secrets and events that have permeated through the walls. How cool was it that I could walk into the UN Security Council, a room where many of the world's most pressing decisions were made, and watch a debate between Lebanese and U.S. diplomats, on my way to grab a latte. I also got a shocking surprise from looking out my office window of the Secretariat building, only to see an entourage of protesters at the gates of the UN, rallying for their cause. Talk about a view. In September, I had the opportunity to travel with a colleague to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the UN. The trip was sponsored by the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), an NGO devoted to protecting the environment in the United Arab Emirates. The UN hosted a conference emphasizing the benefits of CSR within corporate business practices, and how to communicate these progress changes to the United Nations. At the conference, I gave a presentation on the business case for CSR, incorporating the 'eight organizational perspectives' learned from our core curriculum. It was great to give a lecture on how investors could benefit from CSR, and how business could work with their state and society on CSR initiatives to build credibility and trust in their communities. After the lecture, we were invited into the home of the Chairman of the EEG and had an authentic UAE dinner. The hospitality in the Middle East is incredible. I never ate so well, and our dinner discussion about business and politics in the Middle East was enlightening to say the least. Arriving back in New Haven and the classroom setting, it has given me a chance to reflect on an incredible summer. I realized that Yale SOM provided me the platform to grab on to an amazing opportunity. The support of my friends, professors and fellow students helped convinced me to accept a position outside my comfort zone (the private sector). Whether I decide to choose a private or public sector opportunity after business school, I feel my options have expanded significantly due to my experience at SOM and abroad. Giving a speech on the business case for CSR:

Asking questions from the audience:

Receiving a 'Communication on Progress' award from Habiba Al'Marashi, Chairwoman of the EEG:

Categories

About the author

Chris Edell