Gabriel Pinto ’17
Internship: The World Bank and Off Grid Electric
I wanted a business school where I could explore public-private partnerships and the relationship between companies and government. One of the biggest bottlenecks for growth in Latin America is our lack of infrastructure. We need to find new ways to develop public transportation, railways, clean energy, water, sanitation. I have already leveraged my legal training in a government role. Now I’m getting a business education. I’ve gained a much better understanding of emerging markets. In any of them—Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa —the government plays such a vital role, but most public officials know very little about the reality of business. Not understanding companies’ challenges and incentives leads to failed investments and excessive regulation in most areas. On the other side of the table, many in the business community don’t really understand public policy. I see many opportunities for governments and businesses to work together. I want to be someone who can bridge this gap and connect the sectors.
Over the summer, I interned at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. I worked in the energy division, which gave me a great overview of the challenges facing countries in Latin America. Having worked in the Brazilian Electricity Commission, I was able to bring governmental insights to the team, and the core courses at Yale SOM prepared me to discuss the competitive landscape between utilities and solar developers. My second internship was different in every aspect. Working with Off Grid Electric in Tanzania, I was thrilled to experience the informal, fast-paced environment of a startup. Since I was used to Latin America’s middle-income challenges, it was eye-opening to be immersed in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 60% of the population doesn’t have access to power. The company is young, so I was able to help them develop a policy agenda and a regulatory strategy as they expand and engage with new countries.
My field, infrastructure, is really multidisciplinary. Energy, water, transportation, environment, business, law, politics, technology, urbanism—it touches on everything. I’ve taken courses at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. I also took a course on city planning at the School of Architecture. There was a lot of role-playing where we held “public hearings,” with each student representing a stakeholder in a real estate development project. The main point is how, as a city planner, you can engage with the private sector? Another course I’ve really enjoyed is Nonmarket Strategy, at SOM. It looks at how companies interact with today’s very complex societies, where policymakers, regulators, NGOs, and the media play big roles. How do you, as a company, navigate in this environment? Do you lobby? Do you fight? Or do you form partnerships?
Interviewed on December 8, 2016