Profiles written and edited by Andrew Wickenden ’09 and Ronny Frishman P’00.

Current Position
Asia Pacific Corporate Citizenship Manager, CITI; Singapore

2009 Salisbury Summer International Internship
Grameen Bank in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Graduate Work
Master of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

During her internship at Grameen Bank, an institution founded by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Seher Syed ’10 received hands-on training in the practice of microfinance. During that summer internship, funded by the Salisbury Award, Syed undertook field trips to remote villages to broaden her experience and learn about the philosophy and operation procedures of the bank. She participated in the annual International Dialogue Program with Yunus and learned how to replicate the Grameen model elsewhere.

“After looking into the organization as a whole, I realized that Grameen was doing a lot more than just making small loans,” says Syed, whose final project in Dhaka focused on Grameen Danone, a social business enterprise joint venture between Grameen Bank and Danone foods. “I realized that businesses and entrepreneurs can increase social impact as part of their overall goals through sustainable business practices with the community in mind.”

After she graduated from William Smith, Syed worked in Washington, D.C. at the Center for American Progress, as a special assistant to the president and CEO. “My work at CAP exposed me to various fields of public policy,” says Syed, who later worked with UNICEF in Nepal. “I learned how to research and develop new ideas, which can be used to influence the national and international debate. It further increased my awareness of public policy issues, ranging from international development in Asia to climate change, which stirred my interest to study international policy, and ultimately led me to apply to graduate school.”

While earning her masters from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Syed “built on prior work experience by focusing on international business relations and global political economy,” she says. Having “gained a deeper understanding of the management of the business enterprise in a multinational context and the interactions between international political and economic dynamics,” Syed is now based in Singapore, where she serves as Citi Asia Pacific Corporate Citizenship Manager, managing Citi Asia Pacific’s community investments and volunteerism across 18 markets in the Asia Pacific region. She oversees around US$12 million in annual Citi Foundation grant-giving including reviewing and tracking all grant submissions. Citi’s community investment activities focus on microfinance, enterprise development, financial capability and asset building, and youth education and livelihoods. These are all areas Syed first gained exposure to during her time in Bangladesh.


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