Since graduating from Baruch, Alexander Grabois (MPA '15) has traveled the world through his work in international trade. For our June Alumnus of the Month feature, the Marxe grad reflects on his career and Baruch roots.
What is your favorite Baruch memory?
Grabois: My entire Baruch experience was excellent, which makes it very hard to choose just one memory in particular. However, I would say that one of my favorite and proudest memories as a Baruch student was the induction into the Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society. It was a great opportunity to not only to see hard work pay off but also to share the moment with my classmates and my family.
If we were to go back in time to an average day when you were a student, where would we find you on campus, and what would you be doing?
Grabois: While most of my classes were in the evening, it would be likely that you would find me in the Library studying and doing research, or at the Gym.
Which class and professor at Baruch prepared you the most for your career today?
Grabois: I found that all the classes I had in the MPA program were very helpful in preparing me for my career, particularly incorporating practical skills to complement the theory and more abstract points of the degree.
If I had to choose, I would probably say that some of my favorite courses were Professor Ryan Smith’s Capstone Seminar. It was great to be able to develop my own thesis while learning the value of surveying and statistical analysis. My focus of international trade was a bit out of the box at the time, but he was always supportive and gave me the freedom to write about a subject I am passionate about.
Other courses I had that I have found very useful for me in my professional career, were Fundraising and Grant Writing, Budget Accounting, Communication in Public Settings, and Leadership Strategy. All of these courses gave me the preparation and confidence to enter the workforce a step ahead and taught me skills that I would use from Day 1 and that I continue to use on a daily basis. Without the vital information in courses like these, I would have had a much steeper learning curve upon graduation as I entered the business world.
What advice would you give to incoming freshman?
Grabois: My main piece of advice to not only freshmen, but to students in general is to be open-minded, and to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. In my case as a student, I found that just because I did not necessarily like a subject matter, it did not mean that I was not good at it, and you may find that you do like it.
Another important piece of advice that I would give is to make a concerted effort to speak to your classmates, professors, and others, since Baruch has such a diverse student body. This was an aspect of Baruch that I particularly enjoyed, as I was able to learn so much from other students about their perspective on different topics and their careers as many of my classmates worked and studied at the same time. In some cases, my classmates were the ones that had a great deal of knowledge and experience due to their careers, which was always interesting and allowed me to be able to have an understanding of many different mindsets upon graduation.
This experience was very important, and I am grateful for the generosity of my classmates and professors, especially because I was just out of college.
What is your proudest accomplishment since you graduated?
Grabois: I have been very fortunate that I have a lot to be grateful for since I graduated, both personally and professionally. I have been able to live in many great cities due to my career, which has allowed me to meet people of all backgrounds and cultures while also continuing to pursue my passion of international trade. Being able to represent Chile’s international trade in my last role was an honor and put me in a position to take on many challenges that have led me to where I am today.
Joining the U.S. Grains Council has been a particularly proud moment for me, as it allowed me to expand my knowledge and be a part of an organization that is very passionate and that has shared goals and values, while representing the Council in the U.S. and the world.
Throughout my time as an alum, I have found opportunities to continue to interact with Baruch, through alumni events in Washington DC, and even some chance encounters at trade shows, where I was able to see some former classmates as well Marxe School staff.