29 Mar 2016

MILE Alumni Profiles: Marina Foltea

Persevere to succeed!

MILE 4 graduate Marina Foltea talks about her journey from Moldova to Switzerland, where she has set up her own international trade and investment law advisory service, Trade Pacts, and shares advice with current students on the graduate programme.

Your choices, your future

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

As a former Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) student, I am honoured to have been invited by the World Trade Institute (WTI) to share my experience of the MILE programme; how it has influenced, and continues to impact, my journey. 

Growing up in the impoverished former Soviet republic of Moldavia (now Moldova), squashed between present day war-scarred Ukraine and Romania, was far from idyllic. Like other MILE students past and present, I overcame many obstacles to reach where I am, and to succeed in life.

Every so often I close my eyes and reflect on my childhood: walking along narrow countryside roads, the bitterly cold Eurasian winters and the effort required for the basic essentials - collecting wood for warmth and trudging along with buckets of cold water for washing – that many of us take for granted.  I can even remember when electricity was scarce, working for no more than three hours a day… if we were lucky. For years, my sister and I huddled around a gas lamp to finish our homework. 

These memories, my personal voyage, serve to remind me how far I have come, and how graduating from MILE was a privilege that would ultimately change the course of my life. The programme, and similar quality education courses, can have a tremendous effect on the lives of people across the world, even those in circumstances far worse than what I experienced as a youngster in Moldova.

After graduating in 2004, I continued my journey with the WTI – pursuing a PhD which I successfully completed under the supervision of Professor Thomas Cottier. This led to many exciting short-term academic opportunities in Italy, after which I was offered the opportunity to join a multinational company in Switzerland where I worked as an international trade manager for almost four years. I have since remained happily in Switzerland with my family. 

There comes a time in your professional career when you approach full circle. My own career revolution, a proud moment, arrived in October last year. 

Together with prominent experts in international economic law, I founded Trade Pacts – a Geneva-based firm specialising in international trade and investment law advisory services.  Though in its infancy, the business’s footprint has expanded quickly beyond Europe, into Asia and Latin America. We plan to continue growing and providing our international clients quality, affordable and timely advice. Trade Pacts’ growth, however, relies on its links with the many MILE alumni all over the world.

MILE is where my journey began and will continue. Not only did it afford me an excellent profession, but it was the essence of all my career moves and many personal decisions. The most difficult times often provide opportunities to learn, reflect, re-think our approaches and mature our resilience. Today, a decade later, when I have to deal with the complexities of the business world, my journey with the WTI gives me the strength and self-confidence I need to continue.

Of course, I cannot assure MILE students that life is going to be flawless after they enroll on this programme or similar courses. No person can assure you of this. But, I can say that the lucky ones who complete the WTI programme have a far greater chance of a fulfilling and successful career – be it in international trade or a different field altogether. 

Only you can decide how hard you will try and how quickly you will recover from, and adapt to, the many setbacks of life. Persevere to succeed!

I wish all new MILE applicants and alumni the very best and look forward to meeting more WTI graduates in the near future!

Yours in success,
Dr Marina Foltea