Hoya Highlight: Greta Schettler (MSFS’11)

Greta Schettler

COO, WEConnect International
Board of Director, International Folk Art Alliance

Career Reflections

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

I have three key pieces of advice that were given to me at differnet points in my career...

1. From Georgetown Professor Michael Morfit: “Your time at Georgetown is really precious, your academics and classes are invaluable; however, those who will reap the most are those who go out of their way to connect with their professors and challenge themselves to apply learnings to real scenarios while studying.” This inspired me to use one of my breaks to do research on the collapse of the microfinance ecosystem in Morocco.

2. From Ambassador Melanne Verveer: “Remember there is always a solution; respect everyone’s contributions; build coalitions; surround yourself with positive people; and always stay focused and determined—in doing so you will find anything is possible.”

3. From former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker: “Whatever happens, be true and kind to yourself, as often we are our biggest critics. Remember, you have done a lot to get where you are. Sometimes it will be messy, but as long as you stay true to yourself, you will be successful.”

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Elevating the agenda of women’s economic empowerment during the Obama administration under the leadership of Secretary Hillary R. Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer to be understood as a critical driver for economic growth, poverty reduction, and peace and security. Due to the efforts of an incredible leader and team, women’s economic empowerment is now a key discussion point in almost every major economic forum and countries around the world are taking proactive steps to improve women’s ability to participate in the economy, from improving regulatory environments, addressing barriers that limit women’s access to resources and education, to improving health, safety, freedom of movement, voice, and agency. There is still so much more to do but it was so rewarding to be a part of the team that helped to make the work possible. It also brought me to WEConnect International, a unique organzation that is an alliance of 80 multinational corporations committed to buying from women-owned businesses. The experience I had at the U.S. Department of State enabled me to work across the organization to realize that our efforts could drive a global movement similar to organic around the impact of buying women-owned. And it will continue to drive my perception of what is possible as I start my next adventure of launching my own business.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I didn’t realize you could start interning at such a young age, and I wish I had taken advantage of internship opportunities in local political campaigns as soon as I was eligible. Getting started early in gaining professional and political experience is something I can’t encourage enough.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally?

Working across the 21 different APEC economies, which include the United States, to agree upon 75 indicators that we would use to measure where our collective greatest gaps in women’s economic participation were and how best to focus our efforts to close those gaps. As a result, the APEC Women & the Economy Dashboard was created. What gets measured, gets done; however, finding a common measurement tool with so many diverse economies can be incredibly difficult. It was only possible by working diligently, passionately, and collectively across 19 different U.S. agencies and by building strong coalitions across the region around a common objective. Throughout that process, I learned how vital it is to listen to everyone’s voice, to set achievable milestones, and continuously highlight the impact that could result from many long hours of work. As a result, the tool has helped the region focus in on critical areas such as financial inclusion, gender-based violence, and STEM education. It has also been adopted by USAID to use across their efforts.

Your Time on the Hilltop

Favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

All of them were amazing, but there were four courses that were really impactful:

1. Professor Morfit’s “Business of Development,” where we explored questions of why development often doesn’t work and what we need to keep in mind as practitioners to provide real change.

2. Adjunct Professors Laura Foose and Andree Simon’s Microfinance course. For anyone interested in development, I found it essential to understand how microfinance works and how it has provided scalable models of change for people at the base of the pyramid. The deeper I’ve gotten into the world of international development, the more I’ve realized how valuable this insight is.

3. Professor Victor Cha’s course on International Relations Theory provided the overview on how gender equality factored into current peace, security, and human rights discussions. He also stressed the importance of brevity and making every word count—challenging us to condense complex papers into 250 words!

4. Professor Martin Staab’s course on Comparative Regional Economic Growth provided the insight and understanding on the economic growth accounting model, which became the base of much of my later work. It illustrated how globally the one factor that was inhibiting several regions’ economic growth and contributing to instability, was a lack of women’s economic participation. 

How has Georgetown shaped you?

I couln’t be who I am today without Georgetown. Professionally, I have always known I wanted to be involved in entrepreneurship and sustainable economic growth, with a focus on women, but my time at Georgetown allowed me to build on my previous experience, understand critical gaps, and learn how to apply my experience to solve real world issues. I also built the most amazing community at Georgetown—an immense network of equally passionate people dedicated to addressing the world’s biggest challenges! Every time I go back to campus, the peacefulness and spirituality reminds me to be the best version of myself.

A Day in the Life

What is on your desk right now?

Pens and paper—I’m an analog person. I learn and remember though writing. There’s also a figurine of Buzz Lightyear that was given to me by my team with a sign that reads “To Infinity and Beyond, for your ability to identify limitless possibilities and provide positive and optimistic attitude in the face of danger!” He is a great little reminder that anything is possible and who and what I take on is much bigger than myself.

What’s one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

Gratitude. For me, every day is special and that it’s often because of the people around me. We only have that day and then it’s gone—so, make every day count! I also try to do one rewarding thing for myself that is not career focused in order to keep grounded.

Who is your favorite author?

Bryce Courtenay, author of The Power of One. It’s a great example of how one individual has the incredible ability to bring about change.

Words to live by?

“I’m always doing things I can’t, that’s how I get to do them." —Pablo Picasso