Congratulations to the 2020 Davidson Field Scholars
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
The University of Michigan’s 2020 Spring Commencement was unlike any other in its more than 200 years, with graduates across the university accepting their degrees at home via online ceremonies. While U-M and universities around the country hosted virtual celebrations, the hard work and sacrifice of students and their families in pursuit of higher education were very real.
The William Davidson Institute, which expected to host year-end events honoring students who participate in WDI-sponsored programs, was unable to do so given the closure of campus due to COVID19. The Institute nevertheless is formally honoring this year’s cohort of Davidson Field Scholars for their hard work and dedication.
WDI established the Davidson Field Scholars program in 2019 as a way of recognizing students who had committed and completed multiple WDI-supported projects. The program is open to all U-M graduate students. All of this year’s Davidson Field Scholars are 2020 graduates of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, each earning their MBA.
These students rose to the challenges of their projects, but also to the disruptive challenges presented by COVID19, noted WDI President Paul Clyde.
“Although we are disappointed we were not able to host a celebration in person, I want to take this opportunity to personally thank all of this year’s Davidson Field Scholars,” Clyde said. “Each of their individual and collective contributions have been important, and have been greatly appreciated by WDI’s partner organizations around the world.”
All of the students completed a Multidisciplinary Action Project (or MAP) as part of completing their MBA at Ross. WDI sponsors multiple MAPs, internships and the course BA685: Healthcare Delivery in Emerging Markets, which is another vehicle for students to complete project work as a field scholar. The course provides students with on-the-ground experience in a foreign country while also contributing to the success of partner health clinics and hospitals. The class is composed mostly of second-year MBA students, but is open to all graduate students and is taught by WDI President Paul Clyde and Pascale Leroueil, Vice President for Healthcare at WDI.
Clyde highlighted the students’ contributions to two specific WDI projects: The Michigan Academy for the Development of Entrepreneurs (MADE) and the International Investment Fund. MADE was founded by WDI, the Zell-Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan and Poornatha Partnering Entrepreneurs LLP in Madurai, India. MADE provides Entrepreneurship Development Organizations (EDOs) in emerging economies a repeatable, scalable, transferable and profitable service platform to develop entrepreneurs in their home countries.
“Four years ago it was just an idea, but today we are engaging organizations in India, Ukraine and Senegal. MADE is almost completely run by students,” Clyde said. “It wasn’t going to be easy, but we knew that when we tried to start something that doesn’t really exist anywhere. If it was easy, someone else would have already done it.”
A year ago, WDI also partnered with Ross Business School and Finance Professor Gautam Kaul to establish a curriculum-based, student-run international investment fund at the University of Michigan. Believed to be the first of its kind at a U.S. university, International Investment Fund (IIF) is targeting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in India. Graduate students enrolled at Ross and in joint-degree programs with other U-M schools and colleges took an active role in assessing potential investments, providing guidance to make organizations investment-ready and, after filtering a number of potential investments, developing a recommendation for an investment in a specific company. That recommendation led to the development of a term sheet and legal due diligence, which student teams are currently conducting. WDI has worked closely with Kaul to develop the fund and made an initial financial commitment to the fund.
Click here for eligibility rules and other information on the Davidson Field Scholarship program.
Below is the complete 2020 cohort of WDI Field Scholars and brief summaries of their work. Click here to see a regularly updated list of Davidson Field Scholars.
WDI congratulates all of our Davidson Field Scholars on their graduation and future endeavors.
2020 Davidson Field Scholars
During his Ross Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP), Chen worked with Poornatha, a small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) accelerator in Madurai, India, to develop a five-year growth strategy for organization in the state of Tamil Nadu. Chen also served as director of investments at the U-M Social Venture Fund and led financial vehicles research for the International Investment Fund. As a Davidson Field Scholar, he also provided consulting services to the nonprofit pediatric orthopedic hospital, CURE International on how to extend services in Ethiopia through the WDI-sponsored course, BA685.
Chen previously worked at Boston Consulting Group in the summer of 2019. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and Communication Studies from Westmont College.
Ben Desmond participated in a WDI-sponsored MAP, working with hospital leadership and a local financial technology company to integrate mobile money payments at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. The team collaborated closely with hospital leadership and a local financial technology company to integrate mobile money payments into hospital operations.
Desmond graduated from Colby College in 2011, majoring in Economics. After graduation, he joined Teach For America, working as a middle school math teacher and grade level administrator at KIPP Academy Lynn, a charter school in Massachusetts. He later joined Bridge International Academies, an education tech company with schools in Africa and India.
Sid Mahajan worked on a WDI-sponsored MAP project with Aravind Eye Care System in Chennai, India to create a five-year strategic plan. Aravind is one of the premiere eye hospitals in the world and the strategic plan studied increasing the volume of patients from 800 a day to 3,000. Mahajan also was a student in BA685, where he worked to develop an equipment plan for a gastrointestinal center of excellence in Chincha, Peru.
Prior to enrolling at the Ross School of Business, Mahajan worked at Abbott Laboratories in various finance functions. At Ross, he is vice president of education for the Health and Life Sciences club and is co-president of Sling Health, a cross discipline healthcare incubator consisting of students focused on bringing innovation to the medical device space. Mahajan received bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
Brittany Minor was part of a WDI-sponsored MAP team in Ethiopia where she worked with the Infra Group to conduct due diligence on local small and medium enterprises. She also served as partnership manager on the International Investment Fund, where she conducted due diligence on potential investee companies in India. Finally, she worked with MADE on two projects: a new consulting model for MADE’s India partner (Poornatha) and a succession planning consulting project for African Institute of Management in Senegal.
Prior to her graduate studies, Minor spent six years working in frontier and emerging markets consulting in Washington, DC. primarily with federal government clients, including the US Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development and the U.S. State Department. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and French from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in International Economics from Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies.
Erdong Shi served as the co-managing director of the International Investment Fund where she played a central role in establishing a foundation for the fund. She also participated in BA685 and traveled to Rwanda to evaluate the efficiency of a healthcare data reporting system and created a tool for ongoing evaluation at Ruli Hospital, a long-time WDI partner.
Prior to enrolling at Ross, Shi worked in the financial services industry for five years, where she helped corporate clients grow and thrive in China by providing comprehensive banking solutions. She holds a B.S. in Statistics from East China Normal University.
Emma Kwenu Smith
Emma Kwenu Smith was a 2019 WDI Global Impact summer intern. During her internship, Emma developed a framework for finance and leadership training programs for management of MSMEs for the Indian human capital firm Poornatha. She continued working with MADE throughout her second year helping to establish marketing consulting services for MADE’s partner in Ukraine, Lviv Business School, and a business model for Poornatha in India.
A native of Ghana, Smith worked as a telecommunications revenue analyst before graduate school and then transitioned into advertising, where she created traditional and digital media marketing strategies for tech and telecom companies and financial institutions. She has volunteered for several non-profit organizations in human capital development, education and media advocacy across Africa. She also is the co-founder of a social enterprise that crowdsources educational materials for marginalized children in Ghana. Smith is a 2015 graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a BA in Economics and Sociology.
Aman Suri worked on a WDI-sponsored MAP for Awash International Bank in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project focused on expanding financing opportunities for Ethiopian small and medium-sized enterprises, by leveraging remittances from diaspora communities to meet loan collateral requirements. Also a student with BA685, Suri developed an equipment plan for a gastrointestinal center of excellence in Chincha, Peru.
Previously, Suri held numerous positions throughout his career. His experience includes developing market growth strategies at TransUnion, managing product operations at Cars.com, and supporting the build-out of two new business verticals at Conversant Media. Upon graduation from the University of Michigan, Aman Suri plans to work for West Monroe Partners as a Senior Consultant within their Customer Experience practice. Suri holds a Bachelor of Business Administration – Finance degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Olga Vilner Gor
Olga Vilner Gor worked on a WDI-sponsored MAP project with CURE International that involved assessing CURE’s hospitals in Kenya and Malawi and developing a strategic evaluation framework for a new hospital location. She also played an important role in developing WDI’s first case competition held in February of this year.
Vilner Gor received her nursing degree in 2012 from the University of Haifa School of Nursing in Israel. She previously worked as an emergency room nurse in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she grew up after immigrating there from her native Russia at the age of five. Vilner Gor then moved to the U.S. in 2014 and worked in the healthcare field before resuming her studies at U-M.