Some Business, Some Politics and Lots of Fun

The HBS Washington D.C. Trek took place February 25-27th, 2007. It was attended by nearly 60 HBS students and more than 20 companies and organizations. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato delivered a keynote address to students and HBS alumni at the trek dinner.

Sponsored by The Carlyle Group, the International Business & Development and Business, Industry & Government Clubs, the trek was attended by nearly 60 HBS students. DC Trek Co-Presidents Yasemin Arik (NJ), Shawn Henley (ND) and Annie Woollam (ND) commented, “We are thrilled with the success of the trek. Washington, D.C. offers numerous career opportunities not just in business, but also in non-profit, in government, and in international development…and we were able to bring together leaders from all of these diverse fields to organize a very high-profile career event.”

Washington Post President Stephen Hills spoke with a group of students during a breakfast meeting on Monday. Over lunch, Carlyle Group Co-Founder Ed Mathias addressed another group at the Carlyle headquarters. Tuesday’s breakfast meeting was at the International Finance Corporation board room, overlooking the city. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), McKinsey & Company, Discovery Communications, Endeavor and Dalberg were only some of the other well-known companies and organizations who held presentations or panels.

The trek also included exclusive sports events with D.C. area sports teams: Capitals, Redskins, Nationals and Bayhawks; organized by Chris Marinak (ND). On Sunday, students attended a hockey game, preceded by a panel on sports business, including senior executives from the Washington Capitals, Comcast and Starbridge Media. The group also met with Stan Kasten, prior president of the Atlanta Hawks, who now manages the Washington Nationals.

The highlight of the trek was the Harvard Business School Alumni Dinner at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza. The dinner, coordinated by Kate Whitehead (ND) and Ann Gallo (NC), was attended by more than 140 HBS students and alumni.

The dinner formally got underway with opening remarks by Co-President Yasemin Arik who welcomed the attendees and spoke of the importance of Washington, D.C. in business and government. She said, “One of the things that differentiate Harvard Business School is leadership. … Washington, D.C. is unique because it is a city that has amassed leadership in various different fields. … The existence of this leadership and our interest in the many outstanding professional opportunities that D.C. offers, as well as the presence of over 800 Harvard Business School alumni in the area inspired us to organize this trek.”

The keynote speaker was IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, former Minister of Economy for the Government of Spain, who assumed the IMF leadership in 2004. Liya Jacobsen (NC), the keynote speaker coordinator, introduced Mr. de Rato and quoted an article from The Guardian, “If the International Monetary Fund has sometimes looked in need of a firm hand on the tiller, then its new managing director, Rodrigo Rato, has been a captain in search of a ship. For that reason alone, his appointment has a satisfying neatness to it.” Mr. de Rato has been at the forefront of reforms within the IMF, trying to give developing nations a greater voice within the institution.

Mr. de Rato offered an overview of world economy, stating that it has enjoyed the strongest five-year span of growth since the late 1960s. The IMF expects the global growth to be around 5 percent in 2007. Mr. de Rato remarked, “The financial markets are basking in the glow of this sunny outlook. Equity markets are setting new highs while bond markets have shrugged off increases in interest rates set by central banks. Spreads on corporate and emerging market sovereign debt are at historic lows. Liquidity is plentiful.”

Even though the world economy has flourished, the IMF director cautioned against the risk of protectionism. Observing that while there are “real losers from the continued ‘migration’ of manufacturing jobs from advanced economies to emerging markets,” he noted that “the prosperity of the past 60 years has been founded on increased trade.” He urged the IMF members to be “clearer about the benefits of trade.” Trade liberalization has benefited the U.S. economy lifting “annual U.S. incomes by as much as [$]750 billion … Moreover, U.S. firms engaged in trade tend to be more productive, have higher employment growth, and pay higher wages than domestically oriented firms.”

At the conclusion of the dinner, the attendees had the opportunity to speak with Mr. de Rato and ask questions.

The speech has been published on the IMF website and covered by Reuters. It can be accessed via the link:

March 12, 2007
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