August 13, 2021

MPA-EPM Virtual Reunion: Keynote: Post-COVID Economic Growth and Sustainable Development


From July 26 to August 7, 2021, the MPA in Economic Policy Management organized its second Virtual Alumni day. On Saturday, July 31st, 2021, during the Keynote, Patricia Mosser, current Director of the MPA-EPM, Program discussed the Past, Present, and Future of the MPA-EPM Program. She highlighted the challenges of the program during the past year: “This has been a crazy, exhausting, challenging, and sometimes, frankly, sad, year. Columbia, SIPA, and PEPM, in particular, have adapted in ways, that, frankly, I wouldn’t have imagined before..”

This was followed by an Alumni panel with a discussion on key opportunities and challenges alums see for economic growth and development as the world emerges from the pandemic.

First, Ketleen Florestal (‘97) from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, started the discussion by focusing on the lowest Income countries and looking at key challenges and opportunities raised by them as advanced economies move to recover growth.  Florestal pointed out, “I think that we must posit that today no country can be considered in a post covid era. Some countries are currently facing their most infection alarming rates. While a significant number of countries are dealing with a second, third, fourth wave of the pandemic. And some due to the presence of new deadly variants.”.

Secondly, Haitao Zhai (‘00) from Primavera Capital, focused on how the pandemic changed China’s growth model and highlight some of the real-time examples from his home country, China. In one example, he noted: “Covid-19 created a “stay-at-home economy”. The usage of delivery apps surged by something like 15-20% to the pic of the crisis. Most of the consumers will continue buying online after the end of the pandemic. These new ways of shopping and interacting with customers are likely to continue in the post-pandemic world.

Finally, Amarjeet Singh (‘02) from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), discussed the global agenda for sustainable development and sustainable investments of funds, management perspective, and sustainability disclosure.  In his presentation, he explained, “There are two main forces that drive the ESG world. One is investors who are pushing forward in ESG investing and also seeking greater accountability from companies investing. The second, of course, is government, and regulators who are also contributing in their own limited ways to these trends”.

The session concluded with a Q&A and discussion in which alums from all over the world participated. Three sets of breakout sessions were also organized. A regional focus, an industry focus, and class reunions according to the graduation years. Again this year, our virtual reunion was a success, and we are looking forward to welcoming alums back to campus for the March 26th Alumni Day, and to organizing our next virtual reunion in the fall of 2022!