#ElliottProud: Matthew Calardo

#ElliottProud: Matthew Calardo

Matthew Calardo, M.A. Middle East Studies, 2018, #ElliottProud

Matthew Calardo is the Global Strategic Partnership Manager for the Caterpillar Foundation. Prior to this, he was the Senior Program Officer at the Business Council for International Understanding, where he led BCIU’s Middle East portfolio. Before joining BCIU, Mr. Calardo worked briefly at the Middle East Investment Initiative and at the Aspen Institute. From 2013 to 2015, Mr. Calardo managed GW’s Middle East Policy Forum with Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm Jr. and worked as Amb. Gnehm’s Assistant.

Mr. Calardo holds an M.A. in Middle East Studies and a B.A. in Philosophy & Public Affairs—both from GW. He received a certificate in Arabic from the American University of Beirut. Mr. Calardo is also a “40 Under 40” awardee of The Middle East Policy Council. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Calardo lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters.  

Describe your current position and what made you interested in applying?

I am the Global Strategic Partnerships Manager for The Caterpillar Foundation. I manage the Foundation’s grant portfolio in strategic communities like Brazil, India, and Indonesia, as well as parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

Most people recognize Caterpillar Inc. from our yellow iron dotting construction sites around the world. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Caterpillar Inc. and focuses on three areas: climate resilience, workforce development, and disaster relief / charitable giving. It’s an awesome job that affords me the opportunity to help steer investment toward initiatives like mangrove reforestation and STEM bootcamps for young girls around the world.

What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field and why?

Balance your schedule with academics and practitioners. The Elliott School has a great blend of faculty members with unique experiences (diplomats, veterans, investors, etc.) Since I was in the Middle East Studies Program, I would recommend anything taught by Nathan Brown, Marc Lynch, Shira Robinson, Ilana Feldman, Dina Khoury, and Shana Marshall. Practitioners like Amb. Gnehm and Judith Yaphe were amazing. Those were some of my favorite faculty members. Again, balance the broader courses on theory, history, etc. with courses on narrower topics like oil, the federal budget, military effectiveness, and others. Also, take your Arabic exam fresh off of a study abroad program or lessons at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center.

What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students starting their job search?

Ask for help from your peers and faculty. Attend office hours. Leverage the Elliott School Graduate Career Development resources. Do some sleuthing on LinkedIn. Life is messy and you may feel like you’re running from job, to internship, to class, to Arabic lessons, and back home. Gym? Chipotle? Bottle of wine? (Another) coffee from Starbucks? Do what you got to do to get through. It’s hard, and it’s a hustle. In most cases, when you interview, you’re not going to “wow folks” with your knowledge of international relations theory, but you will captivate them with your grit and your personal story. At one point, I was trying to finish my Arabic requirement, working on-campus, interning, waiting tables at night, and of course juggling a personal life. I didn’t do it alone and you don’t have to either. Reach out. I am glad to help you if I can.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at the Elliott School?

Working for Amb. Gnehm was a very special experience. Additionally, the opportunity to travel to Jordan and conduct interviews for my capstone project, and then to see it all come together at the end, was very rewarding.

What book should be required reading for all Elliott School grad students and why?

The Back Channel by Amb. William J. Burns and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. The former is a practical guide to diplomacy and statecraft. The latter is a reminder not to sweat the small stuff.

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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.