Corporate Philanthropy Superstar - Meet Alum of the Month, Christina McLean

This month, as part of our Alum of the Month feature, we introduce you to Christina McLean, an IES Abroad Tokyo Fall '01 alumna whose experience abroad opened her eyes to the global marketplace. Read how her semester in Tokyo turned into the beginning of her international business career!
IES Abroad: What does your current job involve? What would you consider to be the highlights of your career?
Christina McLean: My desire to impact social change through business led to my decision to go into corporate philanthropy. I am an Executive MBA Candidate (2014) at Georgetown University and recently became an independent consultant to leverage my twelve years of marketing experience to support social causes I’m most passionate about. I partner with corporations and government agencies to raise awareness and support for nonprofits serving youth, families living in poverty, and education initiatives. 
There are many highlights to the work I do. On the executive level, I work with senior management to discuss and implement long-term strategic marketing goals that shape organizational messaging and branding. From the grassroots level, I get to connect with people across the U.S. and around the world to truly make a difference. 
IES Abroad: How did studying abroad influence you in your career path?
CM: Studying abroad opened the door for me to become engaged in the global marketplace at an early age and truly understand how intertwined our world is. It was also the beginning of my international business career. While eagerly immersing myself in Japanese culture, I worked on the corporate marketing team of a U.S. Fortune 500 company in the heart of Tokyo. At 21 years old, I was executing branding strategies for a product line with sales exceeding $2 million. I led market research with my team, analyzed consumer behavior, and forecasted regional product consumption – all while building new relationships, engaging in new cultural experiences, and creating memories that would last a lifetime.
As my career progressed over the years, I continued to build on my international experience while exploring ways to make a greater social impact. My experience abroad has made me a more effective professional and engaged citizen to this day.
IES Abroad: How has your study abroad experience influenced you on a personal level?
CM: Studying abroad helped me understand the world beyond my city and strengthened my ability to connect with different people. After my experience in Japan, I began plugging into networks and news sources that kept me informed of matters around the world, while also giving me a different perspective on the international hub that Washington, DC truly is.
I began to feel a deeper sense of community, not just in DC, but as an international citizen. I became savvier about the global marketplace, which benefited me both professionally and personally. It enhanced my communication skills and empowered me to expand my humanitarian efforts to communities and businesses worldwide. Studying abroad provided a diverse experience where I had an opportunity to work, live, and attend school in a different setting that changed my entire outlook on life.
IES Abroad: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from study abroad?
CM: Growing up in a low-income family, the idea of working, living, and attending school nearly 7,000 miles away in one of the world’s most expensive cities once seemed far beyond reach. Nevertheless, through perseverance, the support of my undergraduate school and the guidance of IES Abroad, the opportunity became a reality. My family cheered me on the entire time and I realized that no matter your circumstances, there’s a path to success that is available to you. You have to find it, have faith in it, and move forward with conviction and passion.
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