Feb 26 2013

Featured Alumni: Marjo Koivisto (PhD in IR, 2009)

Marjo Koivisto
PhD in International Relations (2009)

Dr Koivisto currently works as private sector development specialist in Financial and Private Sector Development, Africa Region, the World Bank, Washington DC.  Dr. Koivisto was previously Lecturer in International Relations at Exeter University, and post-doctoral scholar at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies. 

Dr Marjo Koivisto

Dr Marjo Koivisto

When I arrived on Houghton Street as a 23-year old for my PhD program, I was ready to hit the ground running.  Both LSE IR and London as a city were my first choices when applying for a PhD program, and since meeting my professors and fellow students, it did not take very long at all to realize I was in the right place.  My years at the School taught me three important lessons without which I can’t imagine pursuing my career.

First, I learned about the power of practical scholarship.  I learned that if you can’t say it in plain English, it is probably not worth saying.  International Relations, political science and economics are both theoretical and empirical fields, and excellence of scholarship at the School and the proximity of London City and the Whitehall were constant reminders of this at the LSE.  As a Millennium editor I was clearly interested in theory, and even founded a British International Studies Association working group on methods in International Relations.  For me, pursuing practical improvements in the theoretical field was, and is, entirely compatible with pursuing practical policy solutions.  LSE taught me you can write and speak about both in a practical way.

Second, LSE taught me you can get more done in a team – and do it better.  Whether it was my Millennium editorial team (with Robert Kissack and Florian Wastl), my fellow opera and ice hockey enthusiasts (yes, it was actually the same group of people for both – none of whom could turn down the Maple Leaf after a night at the opera), or my fellow Q building PhD co-working space ‘princesses’ (with whom I now, as we embark on our professional careers, have the delightful opportunity of sometimes working and even travelling together).  Go team!

Finally, I’ll never forget the internationalist and context-sensitive lessons of the School.  Real world challenges, whether conceptual or empirical, have always many makers and breakers.  As such they will be best engaged by rigorous analysis and assessment, and sensible dialogue, engaging the relevant people involved.  As I continue to work on growth and competitiveness puzzles as a private sector development specialist, currently in Africa and previously in the Middle East and Europe, I keep this in mind.

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