When Robert J. MacGregor ’13 heads to Asia this fall as a Luce Scholar, he will be joining a select group of young leaders while adding another stop on his already impressive path of service in the developing world.
MacGregor, 27, who earned his B.A. in economics and international relations, is one of 18 members in the recently announced class of Luce Scholars. The prestigious fellowship program, established by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974, seeks to promote understanding of Asia by sending potential leaders in American society on nearly yearlong assignments on the continent.
MacGregor, who awaits news of his specific country placement, said the program will enable him “to continue working on major challenges inhibiting global economic development.”
“The Luce Scholars program offers a unique platform to continue sharpening my problem-solving skills, building my global leadership ability, and broadening my international network,” he said by email from Kampala, Uganda.
MacGregor, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, has been serving in Uganda for the last two years as an associate with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is working to speed delivery of crucial HIV drugs in developing countries. He has worked with the Ugandan government and international aid agencies, employing data analysis and forecasting to help resolve supply-chain bottlenecks and ensure the timely delivery of medicines.
“While I will certainly miss my colleagues and the important work being done,” he said, “I am excited about the opportunity to deeply immerse myself into a new part of the world and tackle development challenges from a different angle.”
He got an early taste of international experience while he was in high school, working during a summer in Piura, Peru, building homes and tutoring students in English. CMC afforded him the chance to study abroad twice, in Seoul, South Korea, and in Madrid.
At CMC, he was named a Robert Day Scholar for academic and leadership excellence and made the all-conference academic team three times as a member of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swimming team.
After graduation, MacGregor worked as an investment banking analyst with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York and then as an associate at private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisors in Los Angeles.
“Even in college I knew I wanted to have a career that was international in nature, working on meaningful, global challenges,” he said. “I don’t think I necessarily knew the sector I wanted to focus on or the approach I wanted to take, but I think it was a bit of an inevitability that I would look to transition to an international role.
“My time in the private sector proved invaluable — the training resources, access to high-caliber individuals, and structured problem-solving approach allowed me to develop and sharpen a relevant professional skillset. When transitioning to the public sector, my private-sector background allowed me to differentiate myself while also offering a unique, value-added perspective despite the very different problems.”
From his CMC days, MacGregor credits several members of the faculty and staff with helping him to develop his analytical, writing, and leadership skills, notably Jennifer Taw, associate professor of government; Christine Crockett ’01, director of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse and visiting assistant professor of literature; and swimming coach Charlie Griffiths.
“I was exposed to international affairs and global economic principles in a format that, in true liberal arts fashion, helped me build my quantitative and qualitative skills,” MacGregor said of his CMC experience. “I learned to think critically about major global issues and begin developing my own approach to problem solving.”
This year’s 18 Luce Scholars were chosen from 162 candidates nominated by 73 colleges and universities across the United States. CMC had most recently landed two graduates in the 2015-16 class and one in 2009-10.
MacGregor, who studied in South Korea under the CMC-Yonsei Summer Program, looks forward to his return to Asia. His ideal, he said, would be to work with an impact investment firm or a social venture capital firm “with a deep understanding of and experience within Southeast Asia.”
Wherever he goes, it’s safe to conclude, he will be ready for the challenges. His college experiences, he said, continue to influence his approach:
“CMC laid a strong foundation to begin shaping my professional identity and career path while also helping me learn to think of myself as a global citizen.”
– Henry Fuhrmann