Alum-spiration: “The potential power of this transdisciplinary, global peer-to-peer network is immense”

With all eyes on Washington this week, we take a moment to speak to Martin Roeck, Chapter Lead of our alumni network in Washington, DC.

Martin Roeck graduated from our Master of Public Policy programme in 2015. He recently finished the World Bank Group Analyst Programme, a highly selective programme tailored to young talent. A creative generalist with strong data skills, Martin currently works at the Bank’s Development Finance Department on Trust Fund Policy and Partner Relations. Prior to this, he supported the office of the World Bank CEO on strategic initiatives related to global governance, innovation and change management. Before joining the World Bank, Martin was an Associate at Precision Strategies, a digital strategy firm in Washington DC. Martin graduated from the Hertie School in 2015 as part of the dual degree programme with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York.

Why is staying in touch with the Hertie network a priority for you?

Growing the Hertie network is enriching on so many levels. It is stimulating to meet people that share a common interest, curiosity, drive and the experience of studying at the Hertie School in Berlin. The alumni chapter is a space to reflect on our professional experiences, exchange ideas, give advice and help each other. The potential power of this transdisciplinary, global peer-to-peer network is immense. Furthermore, the network has helped me stay in touch with the school and alumni from all over the world. By organising joint events, for example, we can expand our professional and personal connections beyond a current location and create a truly global network.

As a Chapter Lead what is your role, and your main responsibilities?

My main role is to bring people together. When we started the chapter, it was quite simple: We hosted regular happy hours – simply a space for people to meet. Nothing easier than that! Find a time, a place, make a commitment, and you have a chapter. Of course, the chapter has evolved since then. The role has become more nuanced in many ways. For example, I constantly need to find people. Especially in Washington DC, people move in and out of the city quite frequently. This makes my engagement more challenging but also rewarding in some sense – new faces, new stories, new ideas! My role also includes liaising with the Hertie School and exchanging information with other chapter leads.  

What is your goal for your chapter?

My primary goal for the chapter is an active community that provides meaningful connection, opportunity and growth to its members. Through our activities, we also increase the international reach of the school and contribute to a global dialogue on policy issues. Finally, it is important both for the school and the alumni chapter to work towards a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, we alumni should continue to benefit from the school’s offerings (i.e. professional education), networks and academic expertise. In return, the school should be able to draw on our expertise (i.e. for workshops, joint research) and professional connections (i.e. internships for current students). It is great to see that the school is putting an emphasis on strengthening and working closely with the alumni chapters. At the end of the day, our fates are tied as we all feed into and benefit from the same reputation.

What is a memorable conversation or connection that was made at a recent event?

The last event we had was a panel reflection of the US election. I organised the event jointly with Juan and Riefqah from the alumni chapter in New York. The elections were extremely polarising and full of anger, anxiety and frustration. Sharing this experience with other alumni and focusing on a creative task – organising an event – was an extremely positive experience for me.

What would you say to recent alumni who are hesitant to get involved? How have you benefitted from your involvement in Washington DC?

You can benefit professionally and personally. Professionally: Networks are crucial to career advancement. You can spend hours looking for jobs on the internet. In the end, it will most likely be someone in your network that helps you find or land that next job. Personally: You can have interesting conversations and meet nice people, maybe make a few friends or even find the love of your life. Are you open to new experiences? Are you interested in giving back to a community? Are you curious to expand your global knowledge? There are so many reasons to get involved

As for me, I have benefitted in multiple ways. I draw inspiration from the speakers we invite to our events and from the personal connections I make through the chapter. At least one of our members found a job through the chapter and a few of the “prospective students” that I met ended up studying at Hertie. All of this makes me happy.

You can find a list of our Alumni Chapters here.

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Views expressed by the author/interviewee may not necessarily reflect the views and values of the Hertie School.