McDonough School of Business
News Story

For Georgetown IBP Students, Global Consulting Projects Focus on Social Purpose

Before they graduate each December, Master of Arts in International Business and Policy (IBP) students at Georgetown University complete Social Action Projects. Working in small teams, students collaborate with public, private, and nonprofit organizations to develop recommendations for tackling international business issues.

What’s unique about these capstone consulting projects is their Jesuit focus: Students study the global management and governance of people, products, and profits as a means toward a greater social purpose in the world.

The first cohort of projects were completed in 2017, and the third and most recent group of projects were completed in 2019.

The program, which is a joint effort of the McDonough School of Business and Walsh School of Foreign service, included projects on topics such as sustainability in global shipping and impact investing in India for the Class of 2019.  

Richard Heintzelman (IBP’19) worked with the American Association of Port Authorities on addressing issues of global shipping in the world economy. “The Social Action Project provides a different lens by which we can all look at both challenges and opportunities differently, reinforced by the foundational knowledge achieved through the IBP program,” he said.

The projects are similar to theses in other graduate programs in that they “involve study, research, and analysis drawn from the curriculum,” said Michael P. Ryan, professor of global business, who leads the projects for the IBP program. “The Class of 2019 faced the challenge of living up to the high standards set by the first cohorts to conduct the research and analysis with the same passionate commitment and work with our collaborators with the same professionalism. They lived up to expectations.”

Nqobile Chitimbire (IBP’19) worked with the Good Food Institute in India to address global warming and sustainability through a focus on impact investing and plant-based and cultured meat. “My project helped me expand my understanding of the role of incubators and accelerators,” said Chitimbire, adding that the project required significant communication with business leaders across the world.

“We spent a solid six months speaking to multiple stakeholders across the globe, from Singapore, India, Brazil, and Germany, factoring in the time difference,” he said.

Previous projects have partnered with international organizations like the International Monetary Fund, Microsoft, and MasterCard on topics such as money laundering, global space policy, and consumer financial literacy.

Virginia Bonilla (IBP’18) and Karla Lopez (IBP’18) worked with the International Monetary Fund for their project, “Trade-Based Money Laundering in Latin America,” which analyzed the challenges that developed and emerging markets in the area have experienced.

“Working on my Social Action Project was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my career,” Bonilla said. “It allowed me to apply and put into practice my expertise in the Anti-Financial Crimes Compliance (AFCC) and fraud areas but most importantly to incorporate the knowledge I acquired in the IBP program.”

Ryan works with students to match their interests and skills to the right partner organization, which earned praise from Katie Lott Gragnaniello (IBP’18). “Professor Ryan spent two hours on the phone with me getting to know what I did right now, what I want to do, and what my aspirations were,” she said. Gragnaniello ultimately worked with the nonprofit Save the Children for her project, “Common Approaches for Global Knowledge Management.”

In addition to presenting their projects to their peers, some students have the opportunity to present their final analysis and recommendations in person to their partner organization. Erica Sayers (IBP’18), who worked with the U.S. Space Commerce Office on her project, “Global Space Policy for Private Competition,” traveled downtown to the U.S. Department of Commerce and was subsequently invited back to brief the Secretary of Commerce.

M.A. in International Business and Policy