Interview with SIPA MIA candidate, Henry Fernandez

Henry_Fernandez_PhotoName: Henry Fernandez
Degree: MIA
Concentration: Energy and Environment
Specialization: Management

Brief Background: I studied Political Science at Binghamton University and I am currently pursuing a Masters in International Affairs. Before joining SIPA, I worked as an International Program Manager for Columbia University’s Environmentally Socially Sustainable Economic Growth Program in rural Dominican Republic. Our program partnered with the Presidential Commission on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to reverse trends of resource degradation and economic depression.

What attracted you to SIPA? Energy! Before coming to SIPA I knew I wanted to work in the energy space. When applying to graduate schools it was important to choose a program that would give me the quantitative tools and policy analysis skills required to tackle the global energy challenges we face. SIPA’s Energy and Environment program offered the right combination of financial skills and policy tools that I consider important for understanding the global energy landscape. I also knew that being in New York would give me access to a wide range of professionals and industry insiders that visit the city and drop by Columbia’s campus to interact with students. This is unique to Columbia!

What experiences do you think prepared you at attend SIPA? Work experience! While working in international development I learned how to adapt to different situations. Adaptability is an important skill to possess as a graduate student. As most things in life, graduate school is about making adjustments and sometimes working outside your comfort zone. SIPA students may be required to take classes that are not of interest to them or may be assigned to work with people that have different world views or possess different work styles. Adaptability enables students to get the most of out of their graduate school experience and teaches invaluable life lessons.

What kind of work do you hope to do when you graduate? Upon graduation I intend to work in the energy sector. My goal is join a company’s strategic planning or business development department and work on crafting business strategies that contribute to the company’s financial growth.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience? The best part of being a SIPA student is the access we have to world-class professors. Being able to sit in a classroom and engage in dialogue with the world’s experts is one of SIPA’s strongest assets. Professors at SIPA are committed to training tomorrow’s leaders and are always willing to offer professional guidance inside and outside the classroom. For example, this summer I was working on a project and needed some direction. I emailed one of my professors –who was in a different part of the world- and managed to schedule a call to discuss the challenges I was facing. That kind of commitment from one of the industry’s most respected practitioners makes a big difference in your graduate experience.