What is your background?
Mary Ellen Iskenderian: After business school, I began my career in investment banking at Lehman Brothers, where I had an extraordinary on-the-job education in finance. But when I was working there, I was putting in very, very long hours and it became increasingly clear that if I was devoting that kind of time and energy to something, it needed to be more closely aligned with my values. I remember working on an assignment where the firm had been hired to identify acquisition candidates for a large US trucking company. I was charged with designing a financial model that would give a pro forma view of the combined companies, and the “plug figure” in the model was the number of people who would be laid off if the companies were merged. It was really at that moment that I realized that I wanted to be putting my time, my education and my energy into work that could have a more positive impact on the world and I made the decision to pursue a career in international development.