Meet Our EMC Alumni
|Bernardo wanted to work in area of international development and having travelled to Southeast Asia before, he was motivated to look specifically for job opportunities within the ASEAN region. Bernardo interviewed with EMC in 2013 and he accepted the offer even before he defended his master’s thesis in Economics and Management at Bocconi University. Soon enough, he was on plane from Milan to Vientiane about to embark on a new journey with EMC.|
Bernard started as a consultant in the Laos office, and during the following 3.5 years rose to Principal Consultant in our Myanmar office. According to Bernardo, EMC was the perfect fit for him as it allowed him to begin his career in consulting and gain exposure to the multiple facets of international development. This included NGO and international organizations, as well as local and international investors.
Bernardo says, “My single most memorable project was when we worked for the IFC and ILO in Bangladesh, on a project looking at financing for garment factories to invest in safety.” This project followed the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, killing at least 1,132 people and injuring more than 2,500. Despite the challenges, it was a project that was highly rewarding to him. The project required a deep degree of technical input from various key stakeholders which ranged from bankers to engineers. Through the project, Bernardo needed to incorporate and synthesize multiple facets into his analyses which included political, economic, and social perspectives.
What Bernardo enjoyed most about working in EMC was the open culture that allowed for staff of any age to contribute, take leadership, and express their ideas. Moreover, he states, “There was no limit to how much you could take on, as long as you were driven and delivered results.”
Outside of work, you can catch Bernardo on his Royal Enfield motorbike travelling across scenic valleys and tight mountain roads. “Laos is one of the nicest places I have ever lived in. It’s natural beauty, the people; locals and expats, and the travels made my 3 years there unforgettable,” he muses. He also noted that Laos has some unique festivals. One of them is the annual Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai), a ceremony that is believed to bring rain so that rice planting can begin. It includes 2 or 3 days of music and performances and culminates on the third day with competitive firing of home-made rockets.
After EMC, Bernardo worked as a freelance consultant in Myanmar before joining the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where he still works in the Financial Institutions Group, based in Indonesia. “It’s difficult to list the various ways in which working at EMC formed me. It gave me analytical skills, ability to deliver on tight deadlines, work in complex opaque country environments, and lots of determination.” Bernardo says.
|Chyi Lee has spent most of her career outside of her home country, Malaysia. A believer in pushing past one’s comfort zone, she has worked in Japan and Europe before joining EMC. She has always been interested in international development and emerging markets, during her university days, she spent time in Nepal and Bangladesh for internships and volunteering activities. Her interest in EMC’s scope of work and the exposure in emerging markets in the Mekong region have motivated her to join EMC Laos.|
Chyi says, “Laos is a calm city but work in EMC makes it exciting.” She appreciated the many opportunities for leadership roles within EMC and the different projects that have expanded her knowledge and skills. “I had the opportunity to work on 10-15 projects in the areas of sanitation, trade policy, aid allocation, education, agriculture, auto supply chain and more,” Chyi recalls. A notable project was the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) behavior change study. Her initial role in the project was an econometrician. However, when the project manager had to go into maternity leave, she stepped up to manage and deliver the project. Chyi remembers this being an eye-opening experience as she had to learn about topics that she was previously not familiar with and discussed sensitive topics such as ‘defecation behavior’ with men and women from different minority groups across Laos.
Outside of work, she enjoys walking around the laid-back city of Vientiane that houses quirky markets by the Mekong River, French colonial buildings, and centuries-old temples. Her Sunday morning routine would be to wake up early and walk to the city center or the Mekong River for a hearty breakfast at a café or a local noodle stall. After breakfast, she would walk up to the Patuxay Monument before heading home. Chyi says, “It is a routine that I miss a lot.” That aside, she raves about the city’s fresh and flavorsome food. Her “go-to” food was spicy Lao cuisine paired with a cold glass of Beer Lao.
Life after EMC continued to be exciting for Chyi as she went on to be the Vice President and Head of World Business Strategic Intelligence in Kasikorn Bank, a major commercial bank in Thailand, to support its expansion into ASEAN markets like China and Japan. She was eventually promoted to be the First Vice President working on Digital Partnerships and Investments. Currently she is a Senior Product Manager at a Direct Lending, a fintech startup that tackles financial inclusion.
She credits EMC’s management team for entrusting her with full ownership to execute and deliver her work. Having opportunity to lead and work on a myriad of projects in various markets that EMC sets its footprint has helped her hone her analytical and project management skills as she gained new skills in business development. This has become her valuable assets and life-long experience to cherish.
|Before joining EMC in 2017, Lara Grosso worked as an Associate with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Milan, Italy and had previously graduated MSc in International Affairs at LSE and Peking universities, following undergraduate at Bocconi, Italy. She joined Emerging Markets Consulting (EMC) in Cambodia as she wanted to work in International Development in Asia.|
Lara started as a Consultant and in the following year, was promoted to Senior Consultant. She enjoyed the diverse projects she worked on with the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia, the World Bank Group, USAID, and First Finance, a microfinance institution specializing in home loans. These projects covered the areas of waste management, sustainable energy, access to finance, and community empowerment. Her favorite project was with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), for whom she undertook research in the Rohingya refugee camps located at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Approximately 1.2 million Rohingya still live in Cox Bazar, following the mass exodus from Myanmar in 2017, making it the largest group of refugee camps in the world.
Lara appreciated EMC’s team rapport and said, “My best memory of EMC is the culture and the people. I had the chance to work with highly driven and intelligent individuals.” Moreover, the best part of her mornings before work was having a drink of fresh coconut by the street. That aside, as a sports enthusiast who has cycled over 1000 kilometers from Turin to Paris, Lara’s go-to activities were Kun Khmer boxing (an older form of Muay Thai) and kitesurfing in Kampot. She also enjoyed being able to go for weekend getaways to places like Bangkok and Bali. Overall, she loved how hospitable and welcoming Cambodians are.
Lara’s experience at Cox Bazar was a pivotal point in her career when she saw first-hand the severe lack of access to basic health services for the Rohingyas. After leaving EMC, she moved into the Global Health sector and joined the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in Rwanda, working to eliminate Hepatitis C. She then became the Regional Manager for Southern Africa, focused on ensuring access to the Advanced HIV Disease Package of Care in Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. “Looking back, my time at EMC shaped me and taught me the soft skills that are critical for my current role, specifically on how to engage different type of stakeholders,” Lara testified. Looking forward, she is excited to join the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva as a Program Management Officer in the COVID-19 Accelerator team.
|Originally from Texas, Magd Lh has lived in eight countries and travelled to over a hundred. Prior to joining Emerging Markets Consulting (EMC), she completed a master’s degree in Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a dual bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Ethics, Politics, & Economics from Yale University in the USA.|
She was always intrigued by Southeast Asia because of her interest in the post conflict development of Cambodia’s private sector. Moving to Cambodia to work with EMC was an easy decision and during her time she worked in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Maldives in addition to Cambodia.
Magd’s favorite project was mapping the complex political economy of Kayan State, Myanmar, to help guide USAID investment and engagement strategy in the south-east region. Reflecting on her experience, she said “I learned a lot from and enjoyed all my projects, but if I had to pick <a least favorite>, my project on sustainable and renewable energy in the Maldives for the World Bank was stressful as it took place during the 2018 coup!” The people and culture in EMC made her time in EMC most enjoyable and the meritocratic culture allowed everyone to grow and assume responsibility based on their abilities and interests. She added, “invaluable professional opportunities wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the people in the firm”.
Magd loved Cambodia’s rich traditional Khmer culture and fresh fruits from street vendors across the city. During the weekends, she enjoyed kitesurfing in Kampot. However, the tropical heat was a challenge – “EMC’s air conditioning was always on full blast, which meant I was always either very warm or very cold!”
After EMC, Magd worked with Facebook in their international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, as a Cambodia specialist. Today, she is enrolled in the Juris Doctorate degree program at Harvard Law School. Concerning her time in EMC, she said, “EMC helped me identify my areas of interest, provided rich and compelling professional experience, and enabled me to do all of that while living in a new and exciting country. I will always be grateful for my time there.”
|Prior to Emerging Markets Consulting (EMC), Matt Viner worked with First Mile, a clean-tech logistics startup as a Business Analyst. He was interested in International Development especially in the Southeast Asian region. Matt found himself in Cambodia by chance when other plans fell through, and someone suggested he head to Phnom Penh. The advice was, “Go to Phnom Penh. Things are bustling there, and you’ll land on your feet.”|
Matt joined EMC as a Consultant and was promoted to Regional Business Development Manager. In EMC, he learnt how to conduct research in an emerging market where available data is scarce. He stated, “In frontier and emerging markets you must think harder and dig deeper. This is experience you can’t really get until you’ve been through it.” Small, fast-growing economies like Cambodia offer a much steeper learning curve than larger, developed economies like the UK or US and a strategy consulting firm like EMC provides many opportunities to take advantage of this.
Matt’s most rewarding project was supporting the establishment of a Myanmar based, tech focused VC. This project contributed to his eventual move into his current role. “I learnt a lot about building and executing projects which is crucial to where I am now,” he said, on his time in EMC.
Highlights of living in Cambodia were the cycling and motorbike trips, boat trips to the island, and according to Matt, “Phnom Penh’s surprisingly on-point international cuisine scene”. Besides the lifelong friends he made in EMC, he enjoyed the camaraderie with like-minded people from all over the world, who were starting out their careers in a developing country. He also pointed out the many extra-curricular activities one can get involved in the lively city of Phnom Penh. Amongst those, Matt mentored local startups in his free time.
Today, Matt manages Emerging Markets Entrepreneurs (EME) – the VC he helped establish in Myanmar, while with EMC. EME supports early-stage tech startups with growth capital and tailored incubation services. Matt also serves as a director of the Myanmar Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (MPEVCA). According to Matt his move to Myanmar came in no small part due to the networks he formed during his career at EMC.
|Tom Percival came to Cambodia to research foreign real estate investments and the impact on local development as part of his PhD studies at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.|
His fascination with Cambodia resulted in an introduction to Emerging Markets Consulting (EMC), and Percival soon joined as a consultant.
When asked what his favorite project at EMC was, he said, “It’s difficult to pick my favorite project. The best thing about working in a consulting firm is the variety of projects and clients. I also enjoyed the mix of private sector and development sector work.” He worked with clients in the media, retail, banking, microfinance, and microinsurance sectors. Tom was also the Project Manager for a World Bank project to raise debt capital for private water suppliers, and a feasibility study for a vocational training school in Phnom Penh. On the most challenging part about working in EMC, he shared, “The wide range of projects mean that you need to learn quickly, but that’s part of the attraction of working for this type of firm.”
Tom enjoyed trying out the latest restaurants in town with colleagues during their lunchbreaks. He said, “I had a great group of friends both from EMC and outside of work. It was a tight knit community and because the city is small it’s easy to bump into people you know in cafes and bars. I look back fondly on this now that I live in London!” He also appreciated the opportunity to travel around Cambodia, especially to unexplored places in the country.
After EMC Tom moved to Hong Kong, joining Ipsos Business Consulting as Senior Consultant. After 3 years, he decided to move back to the UK and is now the Managing Director of B2B International’s London office. B2B International is a global full-service market research firm which specializes in researching business to business markets. “My time at EMC helped my personal and professional development immensely,” Tom shared. He credited it to opportunities he had to manage a wide range of projects covering different sectors and research methodologies. Moreover, his experience in EMC Cambodia proved to be valuable in setting him apart from others in his job searches, post EMC.