Development banker Evelyn Hartwick, EMBA '10, embraces ambiguity and stretch assignments as a way of life. "People who resist change don't grow," she says.
Hartwick knew little of the world outside El Salvador when she arrived in the United States at the start of a civil war that tore apart her country in the 1980s. She was 17, fresh out of high school and alone in a foreign place. "I had $200 in my pocket, and I didn't know any English," she says. "Needless to say, I experienced culture shock when I got to New York to study."
Hartwick persevered, and today she leads global projects at Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing. Along the way, she has visited more than 100 countries, expanded green bond programs from niche to mainstream, learned multiple languages, and raised three bilingual children. "The idea of staying in one place is foreign to me," she says.
Not every venture has worked out for Hartwick, but she has followed a simple mantra: "Keep showing up." New York City overwhelmed her, but she found a new home quickly in Washington, D.C. "Being from such a small place, Washington was a lot more manageable," Hartwick says.
She studied accounting at George Washington University and finance at University of Maryland University College. Then she started work at the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, where she focused initially on capital markets in Latin America.
Assignments in Brazil required Hartwick to learn Portuguese in addition to English and her native Spanish. Other assignments took her to London, where she traveled frequently to Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Now at Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, she immerses herself in Chinese culture. The job requires tolerance for ambiguity, a key component of global mindset. "You cannot always wait for clarity," Hartwick says. "The world will leave you behind."
Hartwick has followed the same pattern throughout her life, surrounding herself with lifelong learners who see problems from multiple perspectives. "I meet people from everywhere," she says.
Working alone can be efficient, but Hartwick says meaningful innovation usually requires collaboration. She traces her own success in the United States to the mentors and other allies who reached out to her in the early years.
"I have had many guardian angels that have helped me along the way," she says. When she started looking for an executive MBA program, she says the selling point that brought her to Maryland Smith was the coaching available from faculty, alumni and other students.
"The professors are world class," she says. "And the quality of other executives coming into the program is also extremely high." Hartwick also credits her parents, who have provided guidance from El Salvador. "My parents always told me that I should always leave things better than I found them," she says. "That keeps me going."
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