Tiffany Batiste

Senior Asia Analyst, U.S. Army Headquarters

Why did you choose the M.A. in Global Thought and how did it prepare you for your current position?

I was offered the opportunity to study, but my courses had to relate to my career as a China-focused Foreign Area Officer. Rather than concentrate on Chinese language or culture, I sought programs that study the interconnectedness of China in the world today and how that could impact the future. The M.A. in Global Thought not only allowed me to focus on international trends, it also provided the flexibility to delve into Chinese history and culture to understand why Beijing acts in certain ways on the world stage. Also, CGT faculty maintained their pulse on budding topics of national and international interest, which prepared me to understand what is on senior leaders’ minds and why. This invaluable insight gave me a nuanced understanding of topics that my area-focused peers do not have and allows me to broaden the discussion in almost every situation.

Describe a favorite MA in Global Thought course or project and how it helped your academic, professional, and/or personal growth

One topic that sticks out in my mind was a discussion in Saskia Sassen’s class on how there will never be an established global governance institution, and that to advocate for one is academic madness. While I understand, and agree, I find it interesting that multinational corporations are currently filling that void in ways that do not necessarily benefit collocated populations in the long term. This juxtaposition continues to play in my mind as I see the evolution of corporate social responsibility, large companies that support small businesses, and international corporations that tackle issues such as climate change and living standards. Understanding how these work together helps put many other pieces together, such as the economic impacts of COVID-19 and why some countries will weather the pandemic better than others. Discussions on these topics are consequential and they encourage me to continue my personal journey to understand the intersection of corporations and governance to better predict the course of future international relations.

How did you come to work in your current career field and what inspires you about your work?

My first day of college was 9/11, so that awakened a sense of social obligation in me that I have been able to fulfill in the U.S. Army. I am currently serving as a Foreign Area Officer, which is an officer that specializes in a region to provide the Army with political, cultural, sociological, and regional awareness as they navigate international military engagements. Currently, I provide senior leaders with insights on issues in Asia to allow them to better understand the strategic environment. The most inspiring aspect of this job is the willingness of our senior leaders to continually learn and understand dynamic problem sets–it both reminds me that I will never outgrow learning, and inspires me to constantly seek new ways to be a better version of me. It also leads me to read constantly, so this definitely did not end when I left Columbia!

What advice would you offer current Global Thought students as they enter the job market?

The M.A. in Global Thought is a unique stepping stone that teaches us how to think in the contemporary environment. Much like telework is the new normal, so, too, is looking at even the most acute problem sets from an international perspective. We need people willing to look big in order to see small, and Global Thought teaches us how to do that. The beauty of this skillset is that it is applicable to any market and in any position. There is no set career path on graduation; we are free to explore our passions! Don’t let the traditionalists tell you that you must follow previous models. The Committee on Global Thought is not there to expand or reshape the box; Global Thought is there to shatter the box and then begin the work.

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Tiffany Batiste, Class of 2019