Group Vice President - International
Abt Associates, Inc.
Q: How did you become interested in economics?
A: I initially became interested in economics in high school. I was in an innovative college preparation program which allowed students to "sample" various topics not usually introduced at the high school level. Mrs. Hellman, the economics teacher espoused the societal benefits of understanding markets and how they worked. Her presentations were riveting. Simultaneously, strong black community activists were emerging citing economics and economic development as the key to black advancement. Also, the emerging debate on U.S. protectionism versus free trade were surfacing as several traditional U.S. manufacturing industries were coming under siege from foreign competition. These momentous developments made me focus on the underlying market and social dynamics of these issues. I continued to pursue my interest in economics at Goddard college and spent an internship at the Black Economic Research Center in New York City. At the Center I researched the issues surrounding multinational corporations (MNC) and their impact in host countries. I traced the literature on MNC from extractive industries to manufacturing industries to finally, service industries. I also interned at a Black corporation outside of Greenville, Mississippi to better understand domestic market focus in a practical setting. After graduating from college I went to graduate school at SUNY at Stony Brook again majoring in economics. After my course work was competed, my professors arranged for me to be a visiting student at the Center for International Affairs (CFIA) at Harvard. While in residence at CFIA I wrote my dissertation under tutelage of Dieter Zschouck, my primary advisor at Stony Brook and two advisors at Howard University, Thomas Horst at the Center for European Studies and Ray Vernon at the CFIA and the Harvard Business School who was compiling a data base on MNAs. My dissertation topic was on the impact of U.S. based MNCs on the service industries in the foreign countries where they located.
Q: What have been the major highlights of your career?
A: I was referred to Abt Associates by Ray Vernon who realized my interest in applied economics. I began my career as a labor economist on one of the Abt Associates largest welfare reform projects. After several months of estimating labor supply functions for welfare mothers I decided to discuss my burning interest in international economics to my Manager Wendell Knox, now CEO of Abt Associates Inc. With Wendell's support we launched the international line of business at Abt Associates Inc. This line of business now comprises about one third of Abt's $115 million annual revenues. During my career I advanced up the career ladder as the international business grew from an Analyst to a Manager to a Vice President to the Group Vice President for international. Professionally I have participated in the NEA since graduate school. I served on the board of the NEA and was the third woman to become a President of the NEA. I was fortunate to coordinate the 25th anniversary celebration of the NEA in 199 . I have also been a board member of the Society of International Development and currently am on the International Task Force of the Professional Services Council. I have been recognized in the Who's Who of African Americans, The Inter Global Who's Who, Strathmores Who's Who, the Who's Who of Women Executives and Sterling Who's Who. I most recently have been published in a newly released volume, A Different Vision: African American Economic Thought in an article on donor policies in Africa. I also have a book review on Foreign Aid, Self Reliance and Economic Development in West Africa by R. Omotayo Olaniyan in the Review of Black Political Economy.
Q: What insights do you have for those considering a career in economics?
A: I recommend the following for future economists:
1. Pick a growth industry
2. Pick a global industry
3. Remain flexible to the opportunity of working outside of the traditional corporate structure
4. Keep skills well toned
5. Avoid "glass walls".
Dr. Stephanie Wilson
Abt Associates, Inc
4800 Montgomery Lane
Bethesda MD 20814
Public Relations: (212) 490-9000 Ext. 2287, 3591, 3670, 2234