Olivia Albrecht is an MBA graduate from Columbia Business School in the US. While at the school she was chairwoman of the Bernstein Student Leadership and Ethics Board, developing programmes on leadership and ethics across a variety of disciplines. She also completed a masters degree in international relations from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, working in Abu Dhabi and Iraq.
Ms Albrecht grew up in northern Virginia. After graduating from Princeton University; where she studied philosophy, she worked at Lockheed Martin, an advanced technology company in the US, on corporate international business development and then at Cerberus Capital Management, a private investment firm in Frankfurt, focusing on aerospace and defence private equity investments. She has now joined Pimco, a global investment company.
In her spare time, Ms Albrecht enjoys athletics, modern art, fine scotch and yoga.
1. When did you know you wanted to be study for an MBA?
Five years ago, when I was working for Lockheed Martin during the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I realised that international business was critical to geopolitics and business was a tool of foreign policy. I decided then that I wanted to spend my career in that nexus between international relations and global business.
2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
Undoubtedly, I am most proud of my involvement with the Bernstein Student Leadership and Ethics Board at Columbia Business School. During my two-year tenure as chairwoman, we hosted events with three former treasury secretaries (John Snow, Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson), Mayor Bloomberg, governor Elliot Spitzer, NBC universal president Jeff Zucker and economist Jeffrey Sachs.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
It’s not always about getting the right answer.
4. Who are your business heroes?
To quote Theodore Roosevelt, my greatest hero is the “Man in the Arena.” And luckily enough, there are many men in the arena fighting to make a difference in this complicated world.
5. What would you do if you were dean of a business school for the day?
I would march all of the students and professors out of the building and into the surrounding neighbourhoods of Morningside Heights to introduce the theories of business and finance to underprivileged children. Business (and finance, in particular) is a powerful discipline that has the capacity to change a child’s socio-economic circumstance. Unfortunately, not all people are exposed to this transformative discipline - it seems like an unfair advantage for certain kids over others.
6. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
You always miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.
7. What advice would you give to women in business?
If there is something that you are afraid of, approach it head on and conquer your fears.
8. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
At this point, I rarely notice the gender diversification of a situation. I just try to be myself: confident, assertive, determined and relaxed enough to make a few jokes and chat about real life.
9. What is the last book you read?
As I travelled to Africa for the first time last winter, I reread Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. And then read a scathing critique of its injustices and pernicious legacy in Chinua Achebe’s latest book, The Education of a British-Protected Child.
10. What is your life philosophy?
Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, we are all accountable and endowed with the capability to change the world for the better.
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke