I have always had an interest in studying politics, and ensuring that government is walking the talk in terms of being subordinate to The People. And by always, I mean that in 8th grade I took on a special project to compare the constitutions of the United States and the Soviet Union. So yeah, I was THAT kid.
I continued in that vein during my undergrad years, spending one summer studying at the Institute of Comparative Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University, and one of my main profs at the University of Nebraska was a specialist in comparative politics. All of that inspired me to study more comparative politics in graduate school at the University of Illinois. But mindful of the fact that there are only so many jobs in the world for German and Political Science majors, I leapt at the opportunity to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, rather than finish my thesis. Further inquiry into the topic of corporatism would have to wait.
After a five year stint in Washington, D.C. working for the DIA and as a contractor for the CIA, I moved to Minnesota to earn my MBA at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. As part of that program I completed my international business studies at the Stockholm School of Economics. A key personal takeaway from my time there is that if you discuss hairstyles with a Lebanese barber in Swedish, you might end up with my current look.
Since graduating and staying in Minnesota, my business experience primarily has been in market, product and strategy leadership roles with companies ranging from startups to global powerhouses like McKinsey and General Electric. At GE I was also a Six Sigma Black Belt, which was a great way to hone my quantitative analytical skills as a balance to my qualitative experience.
Now I spend my time between my own business strategy firm, Katana Consulting, trying to keep our government working for The People, and community building via my non-profit, Start Reading Now. Which by the way, is by far the coolest thing I have ever done, thanks in large part to my Co-Founder and friend, Pam Longfellow.