Featured Alum: Kavita Sharma and the United Nations
I recently caught up with Kavita Sharma (MEM ’12) to chat with her about her work with the UN. So many of you all are interested in working abroad after school, and Kavita is now in Geneva—and also doing international policy work, which so many of you are interested in—so I thought her advice and perspective would be helpful.
And without further ado…
Emily: Thanks for chatting with me today, Kavita! Good to hear from you!
Kavita: Good to chat with you too! I’m happy to do it.
Emily: As with all my interviews, I’ll have you start at the beginning. What came before FES for you?
Kavita: Before Yale, I worked in management consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers India. I worked in an advisory role to help governments develop e-governance strategies and projects.
Emily: How did you end up there?
Kavita: My previous academic trajectory had led me to PwC. Having completed a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s degree in public policy (specializing on international development), a job that allowed me to work with the public sector to improve delivery of health, education, and social services was a dream come true.
Emily: So what brought you to FES?
Kavita: It did not take much long to realize that many “development paradigms” ignored nature while many political and social struggles continued to be deeply rooted in natural resources. I came to Yale thinking that I would continue my professional course in public sector consulting, although in an environmental role.
Emily: What sorts of classes did you do?
Kavita: I took classes in water management, soil science, botany, silviculture, hydrology, and many other natural sciences courses that were instrumental in pulling me deeper into the environmental field. My advisor was very supportive to this branching out, and was kind enough to let me work on a master’s project that entailed natural sciences research—looking at metal depositional history in New England salt marshes. So, thanks to the flexibility of FES curriculum and support from faculty and administration, at the end of my two years at FES, I had developed a strong natural sciences base and a genuine curiosity in natural systems.
Emily: Were you considering any other masters programs? Why did you choose Yale?
Kavita: I ended up choosing Yale over Duke and the London School of Economics. It was a combination of things – brand value of Yale, financial aid, and the sheer range of courses offered. Little did I know, I was being offered a lot more than that. At FES, I was surrounded by lots of very intelligent, passionate, and loving classmates who made my two years at FES very special.
Emily: Can you give us a little bit about your summer internship?
Kavita: FES provided me with financial support over the summer, where I interned with the Green Jobs project at the International Labour Organization in United Nation’s Regional Office for Asia and Pacific. I was able to work on two of my favourite topics – labour and environment.
Emily: Any tips to offer prospective students on that front?
Kavita: Summer internships and research are what you make of them. It is obviously important to start early but more importantly, think about what this internship would mean for your career after FES.
Emily: So now what? Where are you and what are you doing?
Kavita: I work at the Economics and Trade Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme in Geneva, Switzerland. I work on a project called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). At UNEP, I work with country governments to implement TEEB to mainstream values of nature in decision-making. I also work on TEEB for business, where country governments can influence their corporate/ business regulations to internalize many of the environmental externalities of businesses.
Emily: That’s awesome! How did you land that job?
Kavita: The first ever TEEB course was delivered at Yale, and I had the opportunity be a teaching fellow for the course. My networks with the TEEB community during the course of this teaching fellowship were instrumental in getting this job. I also imagine that my internship at a United Nations organization, in addition to environmental coursework from Yale were also very helpful.
There you have it, folks—another one of the cool things a recent FESer is up to. Like so many FES graduates, Kavita’s job came from connections she made with professors and during courses at the school. Just one more of the many great things FES has to offer!
Look out for more posts soon. In the mean time, send any questions or comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.