Malachy Nugent says he first recognised the role the USA plays globally while he was at AISZ. Today, he enjoys the feeling that the work he does at the US Treasury “matters in people’s lives”.
The first thing that Malachy Nugent, Class of 1989 (1985-89), remembers about arriving in Switzerland at the tender age of 14 was seeing three Swiss army tanks casually rolling down the street on manoeuvres. “It was quite a surprise,” chuckles Malachy, now a senior international economist at the US Department of the Treasury.
That day was to mark the start of quite an adventure and, although it wasn’t his first experience of living abroad (he also had a year in Brussels in Grade 6), it was his time at AISZ that Malachy attributes to his keen interest in international relations and politics. He pursued these as soon as he returned to the States, where he did a BA in International Relations and German Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, which included a year in Munich.
“The day after my graduation, I got on a bus to Washington and it has been home ever since,” he says. These days, the part of the Treasury where he works manages US participation in the global economy, including economic relations between the US and other countries. “I help make sure the global economy is operating smoothly and deal with specific economic issues around the world like a financial crisis in Pakistan or an economic development program in Ghana.”
Malachy says he still has a real sense of mission about his work. “I enjoy the feeling that the work we do matters in people’s lives. The points in my career that stand out the most are the economic and political crises – like scrambling to shore up the Afghan economy after the defeat of the Taliban, or removing the entire staff of the African Development Bank to safety in the middle of a civil war in the Ivory Coast.”
None of this, of course, happened overnight. “Being in the international environment at AISZ helped make this possible; it also made me comfortable with flexibility and change, showing me a variety of perspectives and proving there are many possible paths to a destination. It gave me great teaching and a real appreciation of wider horizons. That, and a lifelong love of bingo!”