Nick Grassi, a 2012 graduate of Global Liberal Studies, has built an extensive global portfolio since coming to NYU from Weehawken, NJ. He spent junior year in Buenos Aires, followed by post-graduation consulting work in Madrid; Oslo; New York; and San Francisco. With every move, Grassi's interest in business has been a driving force.
After researching Argentinian microfinance and consulting on Swedish business relations, Grassi now is sharpening his business acumen in Mexico City on a Fulbright grant. Through the Fulbright Binational Internship Program, he is both interning at Deloitte Consulting and completing MBA coursework at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)—all with striving to promote mutual understanding in the business communities of Mexico and the U.S.
What are the goals of the Fulbright Binational Business Internship program?
It strives to address the same issue as NAFTA: the promotion of free market trade and increased business between Mexico and the U.S. By exchanging knowledge, experiences, and culture through hands-on work and participation, Mexico and the U.S. can begin to approach the economic gap from a point of experience. It is the only program of its kind offered by Fulbright.
Describe your typical day.
My day starts with a 15-minute stroll to work through Parque Chapultepec, which is Mexico City's equivalent to Central Park. At about 9 a.m. I arrive at the Torre Mayor—Mexico´s second tallest building—to begin work around in the Deloitte office. I eat a Mexican breakfast, which usually consists of quesadillas and freshly squeezed juice, while starting my day. At Deloitte Consulting, every day is different depending on the client needs or the proposals being sent out. Typically, though, I will run through a set of a company´s current operations, comparing them to what we know to be industry best practices, and try to identify gaps where they can improve. I then set actionable steps for them to make it happen. I typically work 80-90% in Spanish and the rest in English, as we sometimes work with the U.S.
I leave work around 4:30 or 5 p.m. and head home to change and grab a bite to eat. I then take the subway to the south of the city for class at the ITAM University. Class runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Going into class prepared is key. Last semester, for instance, in my Negotiation course, most classes we had to negotiate actual case exercises for a grade. My day ends around 11 p.m., when I arrive home and go to sleep.
What led you to apply for the Fulbright?
I think a lot of the same reasons that I applied to GLS went into applying for the Fulbright. It´s a prestigious program for ambitious and globally minded individuals who are looking to make a difference in a particular area of the world. I was always intrigued by the Fulbright, and when I found the Binational Business Program, I knew I had to apply.
Do you have advice for other Fulbright applicants?
Above all, be passionate about what you're applying for. It's a long and vigorous application process, and the applicants with the most desire, who can prove why Fulbright is the key to their dreams, will be the ones who come away as grantees. Beyond that, do your research, speak the language, and try to contact former grantees who have done similar things; they can offer advice that no one else can.
How did GLS prepare you for the Fulbright?
Fulbright is about being a cultural ambassador for the U.S., and GLS gave me great practice with that. My junior year in Buenos Aires with GLS was amazing but also full of challenges that I hadn't anticipated. Each time I've lived abroad since has been that much easier, thanks to what I learned that junior year. The adjustment curve abroad can be steep, but if you have a good cultural base, speak the language, and go in truly open-minded, it will make all the difference.
What are your plans for after the Fulbright?
Most likely I'll try to work on some startup ideas with friends and/or work at an established startup. Whether that's in the U.S., Mexico, or elsewhere remains to be seen.
Of all the cities where you have lived, which is your favorite?
I like certain things about each city. If I had to choose, I'd say San Francisco just for its combination of features that I like: access to outdoor activities in the Bay Area and cutting-edge business culture at both large companies and startups.
Favorite souvenir from your travels?
A pair of cufflinks that I received when I left my previous job with the Swedish government to take the Fulbright. They are very sharp and come "by appointment only to the King of Sweden."
Is there anything you miss about NYC?
Lots! My family and friends, the pizza, the bagels, and being an NYU student in general.