Exploring Our Global Reach

Mona Sutphen weighs in on economic development in Africa and the Caribbean and perceptions of African-Americans around the world.

Posted: 03/04/2013 12:02 PM EST

Paula Madison and Mona Sutphen. (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images for BET)

One of the highlights of this year’s Leading Women Defined conference was the intimate chat between global strategist and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen and Paula Madison, former executive vice president of diversity for NBCUniversal and current investor in The Africa Channel. The freewheeling discussion covered a lot of ground, including macro-policy trends and updates about global hotspots like Mali, Haiti and China.

Sutphen is now a managing director at UBS AG covering geopolitical risk and a member of the U.S. President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also on the board of Human Rights First.

Highlights of the discussion included:

Economic development in Africa and the Caribbean:

“Africa is the last frontier in terms of development, but we are very encouraged that people are going back to Africa because there is so much opportunity. Interestingly, the Caribbean is struggling a lot more than sub-Saharan Africa in a lot of ways,” Sutphen said. “People are much more focused on the problems in Africa than on Haiti, which is still struggling despite the aid from the U.S. and other countries. The challenge now is that people have a short memory. The earthquake in Haiti seems like it happened 10 years ago. We can’t just forget about the people there.”

How to stay informed about what’s happening in the world:

“This is hard because we’re all so busy and you miss what’s important because of the crush of information out there," Sutphen said. “I’m Bloomberg-addicted and read their stories every day. I try to read The Economist for their global news stories.”

How African-Americans are received and perceived around the world:

“When you get to any community of color, you’re welcomed. Even in Southeast Asia, there are brown-skinned people and they are generally quite welcoming,” Sutphen said. “I have found that we are used to understanding how people react to us and that prepares us for the global economy in an important way. We understand how to talk to people and that often makes us very good diplomats.”

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