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IWP student Michelle Watson Roscitt: “It’s like this school was made for exactly what I want to do”

Michelle RoscittMichelle Watson Roscitt has traveled the world and negotiated complex global contracts with corporations and foreign governments.  She is now pursuing her Master’s degree at IWP.

By the time she was 12, Michelle had lived in the US and Scotland , and she eventually returned to the US to earn her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Kentucky .  She then launched a career in international business, working for a newspaper and then a global telecommunications company.  She moved to Atlanta and then San Francisco , where she focused primarily on Hi-Tech multinationals doing business in Asia, and succeeded in winning a $40 million contract for Boeing.  

But shortly thereafter, an even bigger event happened in Michelle’s life – she had her first daughter, Simone.  After taking some time off to spend with her daughter, Michelle, with two partners, formed a company to provide telecom services to Poland .  It was 1991, and Poland ‘s telecom infrastructure was pre-WWII technology.  During her trip to Poland , Michelle saw the long lines for food and water, experienced the bitter cold winter, met with President Lech Wałęsa, and ultimately signed a contract to rebuild Poland ‘s civil governments’ telecom infrastructure.

After selling this business to a Polish company, Michelle went to work for British Telecom (now BT Group plc).  Her main focus was the high tech sector, and this industry was “a great place to work in the 90s.”  Eventually, Michelle was sent to New Jersey to help with negotiations for the global joint venture with AT&T.  Bringing her family (she now had two daughters), she became BT’s vice president of business development for North America, South America, and Europe.  

Michelle has traveled all over the world negotiating contracts with foreign governments and multi-national corporations in many countries.  It was during this time that she began to witness the interconnectedness of political objectives, issues, and international business initiatives; she knew that she had to understand these, as well as those of her company.  She decided that she eventually wanted to get a Master’s degree in international affairs so that she would understand the global foreign policy issues more fully.  

It was in this role that she met her husband (who was in the same industry), and decided to take a break from her career.  Michelle spent some much-needed time with her children, spent a year in Minneapolis with her husband, and eventually the family relocated to the Washington , D.C. area, where she began researching graduate programs for international affairs.  

After stumbling across IWP in her research, Michelle found that the more she read, the more she found that: “It’s like this school was made for exactly what I want to do…. IWP is not just an ivory tower of academia, and is much more hands-on.  I didn’t want a Master’s degree so I could just think about things.”  Michelle found IWP’s program to be relevant, saying that:

If you really want to pursue a career in international affairs, it is best to study at an institution that both teaches you what you need to know but also shows you how to apply that knowledge in real world scenarios taught by scholar-practitioner professors who have worked in relevant fields.  To paraphrase a famous quotation from Edison, “Vision (or knowledge) without action, is hallucination!”

Michelle finds the foundational ideas taught at IWP to be “brilliant,” and said professors tie concepts from philosophy, history and economics into present day politics, statecraft, and international affairs. She finds that her classes “tie together everything I have done professionally with what I believe I will need to know to pursue my career in international affairs.” She says she tells her parents, “Each week, I love it more.”

In the future, Michelle says that, “I have a very clear vision of what it is that I want to do; the specifics are not as important.  I hope to be well poised in what is a very bad job market, especially in my field.  I endeavor to gain skill sets that most do not have on the international business level.  I loved my former career in international business almost every day.  So in my next career, I expect the same.”

Michelle lives in McLean, Virginia with her husband Rick Roscitt, who is Chairman of Sapien Software in New Jersey; and her two daughters; Simone, who is studying International Business at University of San Francisco,  and Sasha who is in high school and wants to be a photo-journalist.

Please click here to read Michelle’s full bio.