A day in the life of a Corporate Affiliates visiting fellow

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2008 09 pa utilities
Site visit to Palo Alto Utilities by 2009-10 Visiting Fellows.

Original version published in the 2007–08 Shorenstein APARC Annual Overview

Since 2005, Denise Masumoto has managed Shorenstein APARC’s Corporate Affiliates Visiting Fellows Program. Each summer, Masumoto welcomes a new group of fellows and their families to the Center, and helps them to navigate their new country. She also oversees the program curriculum and connects fellows with Center faculty who share their research interests.

How has the program changed since you took over?

When I started at Shorenstein APARC, the program was well established, and it gets better every year. Today, there is more interaction with our faculty and other scholars, which produces better research. The core research goal remains constant, but the changing composition of each group—more female fellows, varied professional backgrounds, new countries joining the mix—keeps the program exciting and unique.

What is the biggest challenge that visiting fellows face when they enter the program?

Definitely deciding which events to attend! In addition to the classes they audit, and the calendar of seminars and site visits arranged specifically for the visiting fellows, there are numerous events within the Center, at our parent institute FSI, all around the Stanford campus, and into Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The fellows’ schedules are busy and filled with great opportunities to learn new things and to network; the biggest decision is how to prioritize. What the visiting fellows put into the program is what they get out of it.

How do the visiting fellows integrate into the Center and the University?

I strongly encourage all the visiting fellows to get out and meet people, in Shorenstein APARC and beyond, and to ask lots of questions. Whether this is done in the classroom, at a seminar or conference, or in front of the coffee pot, meeting people and having conversations are valuable parts of their experience. You never know who you might meet, what you might learn, or where it might lead.

In what ways do the visiting fellows contribute to the Center’s research mission?

Research is a continuous process and one that requires feedback and exchange. Our visiting fellows have the opportunity to interact with and learn from our distinguished faculty. At the same time, the knowledge and practical experience that they bring to the Center provide insight and international perspective.

How do the visiting fellows benefit?

In April 2008, we met with affiliate organizations in Japan so we could better understand their objectives. We learned that the affiliate organizations recognize that the program’s value lies in allowing the visiting fellows to take advantage of Stanford’s resources, to develop their professional skills, to expand their international network, and, crucially, to have their way of thinking completely changed. The visiting fellows return home with a fresh perspective on and renewed enthusiasm for their work.

What happens after the program ends each year?

While they are at Stanford, the visiting fellows develop strong relationships with other members of their class. We want this to continue after they return home. Many of our alumni are now in prominent positions within their organizations.

I am focused on growing the network of alumni by maintaining and improving a comprehensive database, which will make it easy for former fellows to stay in touch with one another and with the Center.

Masumoto returned to Japan this autumn to visit with affiliate organizations, and to reconnect with alumni during a reception that was held in Tokyo on September 10.