An Interview with Diana E. Páez
February 22, 2021
by Tom Lemoine
Diana E. Páez is a Senior Director of Grants & Partnerships at the William Davidson Institute (WDI). In this conversation, we discuss what led her to Nexus’ Foundations of Mobility online certificate and what she plans to do with her knowledge.
Diana Páez is a Senior Director of Grants & Partnerships at the William Davidson Institute (WDI), a non-profit research and educational organization focused on applying business skills in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Prior to joining WDI, Diana’s experience included the design and management of development projects; grantmaking and grant administration; and providing technical assistance in the areas of business and entrepreneurship, civic participation, and governance. She served as a Program Officer for the Higher Education for Development office of the American Council on Education, a Program Manager for the National Democratic Institute, and a Public Sector Governance Consultant for The World Bank Institute. Páez has a Master’s degree in Public International Law from Université de Paris II, Panthéon Assas; a Master’s degree in Prospective for International Studies from Université de Paris V, René Descartes; and a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Social Sciences from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. In addition to her degrees, Diana is currently enrolled in Foundations of Mobility, Nexus’ groundbreaking new online certificate.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, CURRENT WORK, AND HOW IT BROUGHT YOU TO FOUNDATIONS OF MOBILITY ONLINE CERTIFICATE?
Páez: I am a lawyer by trade but all of my career has been in the international development space. Before working at WDI, I worked at the World Bank, various non-profit organizations, and the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C. In 2012, I started working more with universities at the nexus of higher education and international development. Now I work at WDI which is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Michigan. At WDI, we are “guided by our founding principle that thriving businesses drive economic development and improve social welfare in low- and middle-income countries.” Essentially, we work with organizations operating in low- and middle-income countries to provide business knowledge and promote economic growth. As part of our work, we engage with colleges, faculty, and students across the University of Michigan campus. At WDI, we work across four key sectors: healthcare, education, finance, and energy. Our energy sector group focuses on finding innovative solutions to energy generation by learning more about which business models are successful in low- and middle-income countries. In this work, there is a key nexus between energy and transportation. Because the transportation sector relies so heavily on energy, I began thinking about the future of sustainable mobility and how it’s all connected.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO NEXUS AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF MOBILITY ONLINE CERTIFICATE?
Páez: I had attended many webinars about the future of mobility but I wanted to take a course that offered an in-depth look and holistic understanding of mobility, without needing to be an engineer or mobility expert. I wanted to know what I needed to think about when working in the mobility sector. I was drawn to the expertise from multi-disciplinary faculty, which also worked as a gateway to help me get more connected with the University community. Everything I learned in the course made me more aware of how to look at problems through many different lenses.
WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM COURSE I, MOBILITY BEHAVIOR AND TECHNOLOGY?
Páez: Through the course I gained in-depth knowledge of mobility as an ecosystem but most importantly, I now know the right questions to ask when interacting in the mobility space. I appreciated the research-based, data-driven approach to the course as it helped me be able to put myself in the shoes of every different mobility stakeholder and learn from the unique expertise of each faculty member.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO UTILIZE WHAT YOU LEARNED IN FOUNDATIONS OF MOBILITY AT WDI?
Páez: In my work, I seek to partner with mobility companies in general and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Michigan to capture and disseminate business knowledge in low- and middle-income markets. I’m still in a research stage, but this course will help me be able to connect with key mobility stakeholders and better understand their business models. Having the foundational knowledge from this course will help me better understand the mobility ecosystem, and inform our work going forward.
Foundations of Mobility Online Certificate
TWO COURSES • 15 WEEKS EACH
Foundations of Mobility provides systems-level knowledge and skills required to address complex mobility challenges. Learn from expert faculty from six different colleges across the University of Michigan. Gain real-world skills and practical applications. Leave with a distinguished credential from the leaders in mobility research and education.