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Finding Your North Star
A fireside conversation with Miranda Hochberg (MALD 08).
From working in high level political missions in conflict areas to dealing with energy issues in the private sector, Miranda Hochberg (MALD 08) has had some sharp pivots in her long career. She recounted her career highlights during a virtual fireside chat on October 19, organized by the Fletcher Women's Network (FWN) and hosted by one of its founders, Iliriana Kacaniku (MALD 04).
The discussion captured highlights from Hochberg's life, from her pre-Fletcher days, to a decade working in conflict areas in Kosovo and Sri Lanka to a chance encounter that sparked her biggest career shift -- a transition to the private sector which was not without its challenges.
Hochberg, who lives in a small town in south of Munich, said that as a young child she was most inspired by the idea of travelling to different countries and helping people around the world. "Like many of you, as a kid I was fascinated by everything that was foreign...visiting different countries, speaking different languages, dreaming of working abroad, and doing things with purpose – for myself and others."
For years, she did humanitarian assistance work in conflict areas in post-war Kosovo and also worked to release abducted children in Sri Lanka. It was her development work, she says, that helped her find her "north star."
"For me, what I wanted to do was very clear. It was to help people in a way that affects and improves their lives," she said. The highlight of her career came in 2008, a few months after she completed her MALD degree.
She returned to Kosovo, which had recently declared independence from Serbia, to help structure a new government, and she became involved in overseeing implementation of the peace agreement brokered by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari in the new country.
"After spending four years in the Balkans, I had already gotten the Balkan fever. It was an honor to be able to contribute and such opportunities may come once in a lifetime. Basically, I had reached the top and I didn't know where to go from there."
It was amid this uncertainty that she happened to meet someone at a birthday party in Munich who help her land a speechwriting job at Siemens. Despite the initial struggle of adjusting to a new country and professional environment, Hochberg persevered. She later led strategic messaging and communications for Siemens Energy. Now, she is their Vice President of Transformation for Industry Communications.
Empathy and humanity are her leadership principles, and she supports the idea that people should pursue what they love and have control over their destinies. "I like the concept of leading without authority and co-elevation – where everyone who helps reach to a common goal is part of the team, even if they are not part of the reporting line," she explained.
"Regardless of your position, it's up to everyone to take the leadership initiative because you and the organization will benefit from it."
Founded in 2007, FWN is a network of Fletcher alumnae who are united in their vision to support career advancement and personal development for all members, and contribute to local, national and global communities.
This fireside chat was fifth in a series.
Read more about Fletcher's MALD degree program.