Iskender Usupbaev

MPS '22, Global Development
  • Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Colleges attended and degree earned: Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

As someone who worked at an environmental NGO in Kazakhstan, I observed how the environment is overlooked in the region of Central Asia. This prompted me to begin studying the causes of regional problems. Some of the most pressing concerns in my region include water scarcity and quality, mining waste, social inequality, and corruption. I want people in my region to protect the environment to ensure well-being for all.

What were you doing before the MPS program?

I served as a Head of Business Incubator in the School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (SEI) at the Almaty Management University (AlmaU) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. On that role, I coordinated Babson Collaborative initiatives for AlmaU. One of the initiatives - Babson Student Challenge is an annual competition, students from member institutions compete in a feasibility analysis of a new business concept that addresses one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Besides that, with my team, we developed a project that was supported by the U.S. Embassy (Nur-Sultan), a project called "Co-sharing Economies." This project aimed to educate those masses that could not support themselves financially because of COVID-19 crisis in rural areas of Kazakhstan.

In 2021, we led 'Sustainable Growth of Afghan Women' project where we educated over 50 Afghan women in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Afghan women were able to deepen their knowledge of business and entrepreneurship, business incubation and acceleration, UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 (GEWE), research and self-development.

Prior to these experiences, I worked with the American Councils for International Education (ACCELS/ACTR) in Kyrgyzstan, Open Society Foundations, World Food Program and International Alert.

What does global development mean to you?

International development has a wide range of meanings. In my understanding, when people of different backgrounds and experiences employ unconventional approaches to improve the quality of education in fragile countries, or enhancing and enlarging the quantity and accessibility of public toilets, or enhancing the quality of life in a certain area through different interventions.

As someone who worked in the field of entrepreneurship, I would confidently say that both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial attitudes can help a Global Development professional pursue his/her career aspirations. Through the projects I implemented in Central Asia, I emphasize the impact that can initiative bring to the community.

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

Babson College published my chapter on Youth Entrepreneurship in Boston and London in 2021.

How do you envision your MPS degree contributing to your career?

In the Global Development MPS program I will be focusing on social enterprise and I would like to study how enterprises can contribute to the solution of societal, regional and/or environmental problems. I expect that this degree will enable me to use different tools and research-based expertise in driving positive impacts in my region.

Do you have any aspirations for what you’d like to focus on in your MPS problem-solving project?

In my capstone project, I would like to focus on start-ups that can add up environmental protection. By saying that, I would like to develop a start-up that can lead to the solution of environmental problem that my region confronts with (e.g. recycling).

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I love Shuffle and Cutting Shapes.

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