By Deepika Sharma and Beatriz Guillen
On April 1st I attended the 9th Annual Career Conference organized by the SIPA Microfinance Working Group. As you might know, microfinance has been in the news a lot recently- for both good and bad reasons. There have been questions raised on the efficacy and sustainability of microfinance especially due to recent events in South Asia. These issues, as well as career opportunities in the field, were discussed in the Microfinance conference, that was held at the Office of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP, a 38th floor with spectacular views of the city.
This year’s Panel was comprised of the following people:
- Olympia de Castro, IFC Advisory Services – Access To Finance, International FinanceCorporation
- Erica Dorn, Partnerships and Volunteer Program Manager, ACCION International
- Molly McGrath, Vice President of Development, Grameen America
- Shamsudeen Mustafa, Program Director, SeedCo Financial Services and Co-President, Microfinance Club of New York
- Carolina Murphy, Founder and Managing Partner of MicroEmpowering.org
- Ben Shell, Senior Associate, New Product Development, Women’s World Banking
- Adriana Valenzuela, Associate, Capital Markets Group, Grameen Foundation
The 1.5 hour long panel and Q&A session was followed by reception and networking between the audience and the panelists while they enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres. Unlike the last few years, the audience this year not only comprised of SIPA students but also students from Columbia College, NYU-Wagner and NYU-Stern as well as alumni and industry professionals. The speakers from the different organizations were extremely helpful and receptive to the students and greatly appreciated the event for facilitating their recruitment processes.
Career Networking is an important part and parcel at SIPA. There are numerous events that facilitate and encourage students to connect with alumni and professionals. In the words of one of the panelists: “staying connected with professionals in the field and building your network is not just important for the next internship or job search but is a lifelong source for advancing your career or just meeting more interesting people”. In fact, the Microfinance Working Group organizes the Annual Spring Career Conference at a prime location downtown because of continued relations Tony Gooch, the Co-founder of the MFWG.