Abby Butkus: The dynamics of international development

We spoke with Abby Butkus, Program Manager at Catalyst Fund. Abby got her Master’s degree at Sciences Po before working in Rwanda and now in the United States. In this interview, Abby discusses her current career in fintech and her advice for connecting to the Sciences Po network. 

What program(s) did you complete at Sciences Po? What was your experience like in Paris?

I completed the PSIA International Development master's degree program. Living in Paris and taking courses with students from all over the world was life-changing. The varying perspectives that students brought into class discussions gave country-specific context to complex global issues, which was a formative learning experience.

What brought you to the United States? 

I'm originally from New Jersey, so the U.S. is home. After graduating from PSIA I spent 3 years in Rwanda working for One Acre Fund, an agriculture financing nonprofit that supports smallholder farmers to increase their harvests, before coming back to the U.S.

Describe your line of work. What do you enjoy most about your job? What's the most challenging thing about it? 

I'm currently based in Boston working for an international development consulting firm focused on the intersection of finance, tech, and data in emerging markets. I specifically work with inclusive fintech startups through an accelerator program that helps very early-stage companies refine their product and access investors to scale, in order to ultimately improve the financial health of individuals globally. I love building businesses and working with diverse teams, so being able to work with multiple companies from all over the world as part of a greater mission makes every day exciting.

How did Sciences Po prepare you for your career? 

Beyond the curriculum, Sciences Po gave me a window into navigating cross-cultural dynamics that are crucial to operating in the international development field. 

Any advice for current Sciences Po students and young graduates? 

Anything is achievable if you keep an open mind about where your career might take you, and don't be afraid to leverage the Sciences Po network as an entry point to new opportunities.

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