A View from the Class: Weyni Tadesse Berhe

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share another installment of A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and SIPA faculty. In this issue, we feature current SIPA student Weyni Tadesse Berhe MIA ’18. Weyni is a second year Master of International Affairs candidate, concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy with a specialization in Advanced Policy & Economic Analysis, and Management.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?

After graduating from the College of Wooster in 2014, I worked as an Adviser at the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations. During my tenure, I participated in the yearlong intergovernmental negotiations of the Sustainable Development Goals and Financing for Development, G77 and China consultations, UN Economic and Financial Committee meetings, and UN Security Council consultations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Why did you choose SIPA?

During my time at the African Union (AU) Observer Mission to the UN, through collaborations among SIPA, the AU, and the UN, I had opportunities to organize conferences at SIPA and meet SIPA professors and students. I was drawn by the nuanced discussions, the plethora of opportunities to which students have access, and the caliber of students and professors.

Also, my experience at UN intergovernmental negotiations and Security Council deliberations revealed that despite the sizable membership of countries of the Global South, their development priorities and voice within the UN were mitigated by their economic limitations and political uncertainties, and that any policy could not be formulated without taking into account the economic and political realities of each country. I knew that SIPA’s MIA program would provide me with the theoretical tools and practical knowledge to investigate the complimentary nexus among financial markets, economic development, political structures, and policymaking.

What are some experiences outside of the classroom that you have had at SIPA?

During summer 2017, I worked for both Deloitte’s Corporate Finance and GE’s Capital and Healthcare business units. As a Financial Analyst – Consultant at GE, I developed execution plans for on-book and off-book financing for GE’s second and third quarter healthcare portfolio. And, as a Summer Associate at Deloitte, I prepared a real estate industry report for a Deloitte institutional investor that is diversifying its investments from the commodity industry to the real estate market.

This spring, my SIPA Capstone Workshop team and I are working with Morgan Stanley’s Global Financial Crimes unit to revamp the firm’s Anti-Money Laundering – Transaction Monitoring System. I am also involved in different social ventures at Columbia University. I was the President of the SIPA Pan-African Network, and I am the Co-Chair of the 15th Annual African Economic Forum, which is the largest Africa centered conference at Columbia University organized by the African student networks at SIPA, Columbia Business School, and Columbia Law School.

How has SIPA impacted you?

I was born in the midst of an Ethiopian civil war in a small makeshift tent in a battleground to two freedom fighter parents who joined the anti-communist resistance movement to ensure freedom, equality, and liberty for all Ethiopians. Service and the quest for a just, equitable, and free world have been the cornerstone of my upbringing and experience. Being surrounded by like-minded, rising professionals who have committed their lives to uplift the lives of their communities has made my SIPA experience enriching and humbling.

What are your plans after SIPA?

I am keen on exploring innovative and sustainable investment platforms that assist investors in realizing environmentally, socially, and financially driven investments that enhance communities’ quality of life.