Jamie Smith - MPA '14

We are proud to introduce you to one of the Club's current members who is also a recent alumn:

Jamie Smith

(in his own words but answering the Club's questions)


Who am I?

I am a Brit brought to Sweden by love in 2011 and now slowly becoming Swedish myself (I have just applied for my Swedish citizenship!) We have recently returned to Stockholm after a wonderful year at Harvard where I did a Mid-career Masters in Public Administration. My wife and two daughters (now 1 and 3) joined me for the year, which made it a true family adventure but also placed some restrictions on the amount of late-night drinking in Charley’s we could do!

I had been interested in doing a Masters in Public Administration for a long time and when I found out about the one year mid-career programme (min 7 years of work experience) at the Harvard Kennedy School I decided that it was the perfect program for me. I often say that a Masters in Public Administration is like an MBA for the public sector- but the truth is that people take the MPA in many directions- focusing on international diplomacy, economics, advocacy or even preparing to run for political office. I followed my interests and took courses in management in the public sector, public finance and international development.    

During my time at Harvard I had the chance to meet and learn from a number of inspiring leaders from the public sector- and this deepened my interest in how better leadership and management in the public sector can improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society.

What was my most memorable Harvard experience?

There is a tradition at the Kennedy school that every month you and 5 other randomly-allocated classmates get together for dinner. Our class had 200 people from 70+ countries- and these dinners were a chance to get to know people on a deeper level than you could reach in the classroom, library or bar! Hearing some of the extraordinary stories of my classmates- human rights activists, politicians, ministers of finance, doctors and social workers- always left me energized and hopeful.

Most memorable from the classroom was when we had the opportunity to work on real-world problems. In one class a group of us were assigned to work with the Mayor’s office in the City of Somerville on a public finance project. It was fascinating to get this insight into local government in the US and to work with an inspiring public leader.

How can Harvard make a difference in Sweden?

I would like to invert this question- and ask how can Sweden make a difference to Harvard? Whilst there are quite a lot of Swedes that have been to the law school and the business schools, there are very few that have been to the Kennedy School. I think this should change as I think the Nordic perspective on governance and society is an important voice that should be heard more at Harvard. When the former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg visited the Kennedy School he attracted a lot of attention and offered a distinct perspective on governance- I would therefore like to see even more Swedish students and lecturers engaging with the Harvard community.