Yale students connect with IADB leader to brainstorm on social challenges in Latin America.

On Saturday, November 12, Federico Galizia, PhD ’97, Chief Risk Officer at Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) led a Yale Ph.D. Ideation Challenge to tap into the creative and intellectual power of Yale scholars and generate new ideas around a current problem:  What can be done to help Latin American small-business owners build productive relationships with their EU peers?  Because small businesses dominate the European and Latin American economies, there is enormous growth potential from these relationships. However, interactions are limited despite the goodwill between these two regions.

Dr. Federico Galizia presenting the problem statement for this PhD Ideation Challenge.

Yale Ph.D. students from diverse disciplines, including history, physics, and the life sciences, were asked to bring their deep analytical skills and subject matter expertise to lend a fresh perspective to this issue.  In this 3-hour quick-fire session, they worked in 4 groups to brainstorm possible solutions and make pitches of their top ideas. Proposals included:

  • A multi-faceted scaffold comprised of 1) events such as conferences or online platforms to help small businesses form connections; 2) organizations such as inter-region professional associations to help them maintain and expand ties; and 3) online marketplaces to support the execution of economic activity among the EU and Latin American small businesses.
  • Provision of free or low-cost branding and marketing services to Latin American businesses to raise their visibility to their EU counterparts.
  • Establishment of exchange programs between Latin America and the EU for students, low-skilled workers, and mid-level managers. These activities would not only lead to new labor pipelines and the productive exchange of business best practices but also improve cultural understanding and the formation of personal bonds that can be foundational to business relationships.

The frameworks students came up with could be used to jumpstart a reflection on policy action to be taken up. There were specific roles that the regional development banks focused on either Europe or Latin America could play especially being a neutral party that can provide legitimacy and accountability and offers long-term monitoring of the program to track progress and make modifications to various programs.

Students participate in the ideation process.

The Yale PhD Ideation Challenge is a new initiative aimed at exposing Yale graduate students to real-world problem solving and strategic thinking. It also provides employers with the opportunity to gain fresh and creative perspectives on a current business problem and connect with a pipeline of top-tier graduate talent from diverse disciplines. It is led by McDougal Career Fellows in the Yale Office of Career Strategy, Abhishek Dev (PhD candidate in Finance) and Yiqun Jiang (PhD candidate in Molecular, Cellular, and Development Biology). Interested in participating in an ideation challenge or leading your own ideation challenge with Yale graduate students and postdocs? Visit the website at: https://ocs.yale.edu/phd-ideation-challenge/

By Yiqun Jiang
Yiqun Jiang McDougal Career Fellow