Iynna graduated from the MA International Relations Program in May 2015. Originally from Cameroon and Madagascar by way of France, the UK, Senegal and now New York, she is a native French and English speaker as well as fluent in Spanish. She received her undergraduate degree from Durham University in England.
Where do you currently work and what do you do there?
After acquiring experience in the International Development and Government sector as a former UN and Cameroon Government staff, I found my truest passions in entrepreneurship and its interplay with tech. I currently serve as the Global Program Manager at ERA, one of New York leading VC fund and startup accelerators. I work with international governments and other partners to support global startups looking to scale their operations in the US market and get access to capital via institutional investments (VC, Private Equity), and private investments (angel investors or family offices). Prior to that, I managed Yunus&Youth, a digital global accelerator, founded with the endorsement of Muhammad Yunus, that supports social entrepreneurs across the world looking to scale their ventures. I also was instrumental in the growth of the edtech startup Enza Academy as COO, where I now serve as an advisor. I was the first Archimedes Project Fellow and started a sanitation venture, in Cameroon, whose mission was to provide access to toilets to the 1M individuals in marginalized communities in the city of Douala.
How did the IR Program prepare you for what you are doing now?
The advantage of being in the IR program (which is also a new program) is that as a student you are given a lot of opportunities to impact its future. I was a board member of the IR and Politics Association and in my capacity of Director for Professional Development, I worked with faculty and other offices at NYU. Along with the other board members, we quickly became the representatives of our fellow students. This was quite a responsibility, but it definitely trained me to become more assertive and provided me with an opportunity to participate in the future developments of the academic program. With this fellowship, I am doing something rather similar. By exploring the possibility of tackling the sanitation crisis using a social enterprise business model, I hope to be part of a system of change that will hopefully contribute to the betterment of people’s lives.
Why did you choose the IR program at NYU?
The first (and probably ‘easier’) reason: it is in New York, the epicenter of opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Furthermore, I initially aimed to work for an international organization around security issues. And the program was precisely geared towards this specialization when I first applied. That said, I quickly shifted my interest into development issues with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The program is extremely flexible and I very much enjoy the fact that I could make this transition with the support of my academic advisors. Generally speaking, NYU does an excellent job at letting you create your own agenda and make this experience one that you really want to have.
What was your favorite class during your MA in International Relations?
I did not have a favorite class per se. All my classes complemented each other well and I was able to leverage my experience in one to succeed in another.
Looking back, what were some of your favorite things about studying at NYU and about the IR Program?
NYU is an extremely entrepreneurial school and this was a perfect fit for me. I made this program a tremendous experience because NYU enabled me to do so. My professors have also been extremely open and willing to help me, and they do so to all their students. In addition, I have certainly learned inside the classroom but also outside, through my interaction with my peers, who I now proudly call my friends.
What advice would you give to current and future students of the program?
Take advantage of all the things that come to you but don’t rely on this only. Challenge yourself and go out there to look for more. The IR Program, NYU and more generally New York are amazing but complex places to be in and navigate. I’d also add that it is important, and in fact crucial to seek and listen to advice.
Last Updated August 20th, 2019