We love reconnecting with our IOP alumni! We turned the spotlight on our former students to find out where they are now, what inspires them to work in public service, and their advice for current students. Want to share your alumni story with us? Email our alumni coordinator.
Graduating Class: 2013; Student co-chair of the Fellows and Study Groups Program
Current job: Policy Adviser, HM Treasury (UK government)
Location: London, UK
What do you remember as your favorite or most interesting IOP experience?
In fall of 2011, one of the then-Fellows Christina Bellantoni organised for a group of us to drive to New Hampshire, where the presidential primary candidates were already in full campaign mode. We had the chance to hear 5 of the candidates speak in a single day, and even rode in the campaign bus of one. Getting that first-hand experience of Presidential politics was a formative experience for me, not only in providing a notable contrast with the UK electoral system, but also in terms of what I ended up focusing on in my senior thesis, where I studied the impact of divisive primary contests.
What motivated you to public sector work?
The chance to work on solutions to some of the most difficult, and important, problems and questions, for many of which there are no clearly right or wrong answers; and the reality that the work you’re involved in has the opportunity to result in tangible improvements to people’s lives. I had always been interested in politics, but being involved in the IOP and getting to learn from so many people with a huge variety of experience demonstrated to me the diverse nature of public sector work and the huge impact that you can have, and I found the strength of commitment many of those people had inspiring as I thought forward to my own career.
What was your first job out of college?
Having working on Elizabeth Warren's 2012 Senate Campaign during my senior year at Harvard, I wanted to try something different after graduation. I moved to Washington DC to work for Promontory Financial Group, which specialises in regulatory compliance and risk management, where I got first-hand experience of how regulations crafted by policy makers can impact the wider economy, as well as the chance to learn directly from some incredible former public servants.
What is the best part of your current job?
I think it’s a historic moment in time to be involved in public service across the globe, and there are huge challenges facing both the elected and the electorate. I have the privilege in my current job to be able to work on some of these big questions with very smart and engaged people, which is unbelievably fulfilling, motivating, and exactly what drove me to get involved in public service in the first place.
What advice would you share with current IOP students?
Grab as many of the opportunities that the IOP offers you; attend as many events, study groups, forums, volunteer sessions etc. as you possible can, as you never know when you're going to meet someone or hear something that will have a lasting impact on you. During my Freshman fall, someone told me that I was unlikely to remember the response paper that I had due, but would always remember going to hear a world leader talk at the Forum – and 8 years later, I can tell you that is most certainly the case. It can be difficult to appreciate until you’ve left just how unique the access you have to people who have a real impact in shaping the future of the world is. You don't get it anywhere else, with the same frequency that the IOP provides. That in and of itself is an unmatched education. The IOP had a huge impact on my interest in, and commitment to, public service in its many forms, and I hope that as many undergraduates as possible can also benefit from the incredible opportunities the Institute provides.
What was happening at the Institute when Sophie was a student? Here's a flashback:
Sophie with then-Commander of the Joint Forces Command General Raymond T. Odierno. Watch his March 9, 2011 Forum about military leadership below.