On Friday the 25th, the former MPA-EPM directors Michael Gavin, Michael Connolly, Francisco Rivera-Batiz, and Arvid Lukauskas joined current director Patricia Mosser for a discussion of the program’s past, present, and future.
Later that day a panel of alumni talked about the challenges presented by the current economic, political, and health crisis, offering perspectives that reflected their diverse industries and regions. Participants included Imad Alam Al-Khayyat MPA-EPM ’10, chief economist of OPEC; Beatriz Arbalaez MPA-EPM ’96, former finance minister of Bogota, Colombia; Kweku Bedu-Addo MPA-EPM ’97, the CEO for Southern Africa at Standard Chartered Bank; Hany Kadry Dimian MPA-EPM ’96, former finance minister of Egypt; Ulric Eriksson von Allmen MPA-EPM ’94, assistant director for monetary and capital markets at the International Monetary Fund; and Songzuo Xiang MPA-EPM ’01, former chief economist of the Agricultural Bank of China and the author of New Economics.
Each session was lively and generated many questions from alumni in attendance. In her remarks to alumni, Mosser stressed the need for continued scholarship funding that enables students from emerging economies to participate in the program. Binqi Liu MPA-EPM ’08 and Alex Munteanu MPA-EPM ’97 were among those who encouraged fellow graduates to give back to the program; others would repeat the sentiment several times as the weekend continued.
To view Day I's complete program, visit here.
The program on Saturday the 26th featured three sets of breakout sessions. Alumni divided into groups, first by region — Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa/Middle East, and North America — and then by industry — economic policy, energy and environment, and central banking and financial markets — to talk about unique challenges and paths for progress in each. The day concluded with breakouts based on class year, giving alumni a chance to catch up with their true classmates and others who graduated around the same time.
Organizers said the program was a great success, thanking all who participated and promising to convene even more alums in 2021.
What our Alumni are saying:
"As a fresh graduate of Columbia SIPA’s MPA-EPM program, I was looking forward to PEPM’s first-ever virtual reunion. The said event was enriching, after meeting and hearing out other alumni situated all over the world. It served as a platform for me to form new networks (especially those in the Asia-Pacific region) and to reunite with my batchmates. I was also able to gather interesting insights about salient economic issues such as how can businesses thrive at present given the COVID-19 pandemic, which has induced a significant contraction in the global economy, particularly in emerging markets. I only wished that more time was given to us to form new friendships within the PEPM circle during the event. Despite this, I am already looking forward to the next reunion, and I really hope to see more of PEPM alums in New York!" - Rachel Lynn Yap Belandres, Class of 2020
"While we all had wished to meet in person, the virtual meeting was a great way to link with the PEPM community around the globe. I also enjoyed listening to the faculty members about the history of the program as it was like stepping into a time-capsule to learn how PEPM has evolved over time. We also had in-depth discussions on economic policy issues with very experienced alumni that have held or currently hold senior-level positions either in the public or in the private sector. I look forward to our next meeting." - Juan Pablo Celis, Class of 2020
"The PEPM Virtual Reunion surpassed my expectations and I think it would be a wonderful staple for the PEPM family. I felt that I met and heard from more distinguished alumni than I might have otherwise, given that our dispersal around the world must make it difficult for many of us to gather for an in-person event. I left inspired and eager to connect further with alumni from past graduating classes. " - Elizabeth Gonzalez, Class of 2020
"The virtual reunion was a bittersweet event. The bitter: Virtual events although very cool, cutting edge, and efficient, are no substitute for the connection we make by meeting in-person and since our graduation was virtual as well as most of our goodbyes, I am somewhat nostalgic for that in-person meeting with my colleagues. The sweet: it was wonderful to meet and interact with alumni from my batch going all the way back to the first PEPM class. It's amazing and quite encouraging to see how accomplished and dispersed we are, making meaningful contributions in important areas ranging from macro-policy to energy transition and climate change. I was in the breakout room that discussed energy issues and which is particularly close to me having done the energy track and living and working in the newest oil and gas producer that is still trying to maintain a green development agenda. The discussions there were engrossing and could easily have lasted the entire day and more, ultimately we had to end in the allotted time. In the virtual meeting with my classmates, it was lovely and moving to see each other and to reminisce on our experiences and challenges. It is my fervent hope that we will have more events like this, virtual or in-person, according to what the situation requires." - Errol Vernon LaCruez, Class of 2020
"It was so nice to be with the PEPM community and to have PEPMers around the world sharing views together like being in a big classroom! " - Binqi Liu, Class of 2008
"The 2020 PEPM Virtual Reunion was a unique opportunity to connect and re-connect live with the tight-knight PEPM community across different geographies and time zones. Learning about the origins of PEPM, its evolution, and future direction made me realize how fortunate and proud we should all be for being part of this selective group of fewer than 230 alumni worldwide. The Alumni panels showcased the global nature of our network, and the diversity and depth of our expertise and analysis, reflecting the fundamental lessons we all learned at PEPM. On a personal note, a highlight was to have our own “Class Reunion” where we reminisced and shared fond memories of our student years with some classmates that I have literally not seen again since graduation!! I hope the 2020 PEPM Virtual Reunion is the first one of many more to come!" - Peter Sang, Class of 2010