14 Oct 2013

MILE Alumni Profiles: Ravi Soopramanien

"MILE serves as a good launch-pad for graduates looking to explore career opportunities in trade."

Ravi Soopramanien describes his career path from the MILE programme to the WTO – via Brussels and Tunis - and shares the key things he learned on the way.

What is your background? Where are you from originally? I am a New York-licensed attorney born in Mauritius, and raised mostly in Washington, DC. While I spent most of my formative years shuttling between Mauritius and the US, I completed most of my legal education in Europe (at the Universities of London and, of course, Bern!) To date, I have worked in Washington DC, Brussels, Tunis and, currently, Geneva. Who do you work for and what is your role? I work as a Legal Officer at the WTO Rules Division. In this capacity, I am tasked chiefly with assisting panels, from the panel composition stage to the finalisation of panel reports. I perform technical, factual and legal research on those aspects of the various agreements that are raised by parties. What did you do after graduating from MILE? I only joined the Rules Division earlier this year. Following completion of MILE 6, I worked as an intern for the international trade group practice of White & Case DC, before moving to Wilmer Hale Brussels to work under the supervision of Marco Bronckers and Jacques Bourgeois, both eminent trade practitioners and MILE faculty members. I left the following year to join VVGB Advocaten. After a few years working as a VVGB associate on a range of trade and regulatory issues, from EU Competition Law to EU Environmental Law to EU Subsidisation matters, I moved to the African Development Bank in Tunis to get a feel for the "programming" or policy side of life. As a Strategist for the AfDB, I provided input into the organisation's corporate "vision" strategy. What attracted you to the MILE programme in the first place? I was drawn, firstly, to the depth of the programme. At that time (2005-2006), most education providers offered international economic law and/or WTO law and policy courses as single postgraduate modules. Having already completed such a module for my LLM at the London School of Economics, I was looking for something that could complement an already advanced academic qualification in international economic law. Second, I was impressed by the strength of the visiting faculty. How did it prepare you for your current role? The MILE helped shape my career trajectory. I recall a moment sitting in on Marco Bronckers's lecture on trade policy formulation where I decided: “I absolutely must train with Prof. Bronckers!” Working with him was a thoroughly formative experience, and one that helped launch my professional career. I would therefore say that the MILE serves as a good launch-pad for those graduates looking to explore career opportunities in trade. What were the key things you learned? Beyond academics, I learned the importance of relying on your classmates. While I had a relatively solid background in law, I sometimes found the more economic- and international relations-focused modules difficult to digest. Thankfully, I had good friends to steer me through these conceptually difficult areas. The MILE remains a daunting course, and if you are gunning for that elusive Summa Cum Laude, you should definitely consider making alliances! If you are lucky (as I was), you will also make friends for life.