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Pro GTL Interview with Dr. Jackson

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Dr. Sarita Jackson

Sarita D. Jackson, Ph.D. is the founder, president and CEO of the Global Research Institute of International Trade (G.R.I.I.T.), a think-tank/consulting firm focused on international trade. She was recently nominated for the LA Business Journal Women in Business Award. Dr. Sarita Jackson is the author of the book "It's not just the Economy, Stupid!"

We recently interviewed Dr. Jackson to find out more about her own life story in the world of global trade.


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Pro GTL Interview with Dr. Jackson

  1. 1. July 1, 2017, PRO-GTL Jeannine Saffigna interview with Dr. Sarita Jackson. PRO-GTL: Thank you for meeting with us today. First and foremost, Dr. Sarita Jackson congratulations on your nomination for the LA Business Journal Women in Business Award. What a huge achievement! Were you surprised? DR. SARITA JACKSON: I was really surprised, and I want to say that starting my company, and four years later to be nominated, shows you that all the hard work is continuing to pay off. PRO-GTL: That really does show all the hard work has paid off. I’m so happy for you. How did you first get started and interested in all things related to Global Trade? DR. SARITA JACKSON: It actually came out of my doctoral research. I was pursuing a PhD at Brown University, and at that time I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to focus my research on. After my first year of studying, I received an opportunity to spend a semester at the U.S. embassy in Panama. So, I figured I would try to incorporate that into my research. I met with someone from the Panamanian Embassy in Washington D.C. and she mentioned to me that international trade in Panama was a huge issue. It really interested me because it had both the political and the policy component. So, I started focusing on trade negotiation and how countries negotiate these trade deals, and the role business associations have on influencing on the deal. So, then I moved in to the private sector working around the world in places such as Southern Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. I provided advice on how governments could help local business associations take advantage of these trade deals. PRO-GTL: What an exciting journey! Over what period of time would you say this was? DR. SARITA JACKSON: I would say it began about 15 years ago. PRO-GTL: Wow, I can only imagine how much you’ve seen and the people you have helped over the last 15 years!
  2. 2. DR. SARITA JACKSON: Yes! That’s what makes it so interesting to travel and see the world from all different angles, to act in different capacities, whether its academic research, work as a consultant, or meeting with business owners. PRO-GTL: They’ve been quite lucky to be able to receive your insights and knowledge. Now, I know this nomination was a surprise and that you don’t know who nominated you. Do you believe that there’s something that you’ve done in the last year or two that could have brought you in to the spotlight? DR. SARITA JACKSON: I think I have built close relationships with local businesses over the last several years and have helped them understand things like what the research means, how to select a market, how to trade services and export those services overseas. I also use my background as a Political Scientist to show them how to use policy to their advantage in international trade deals. PRO-GTL: Fascinating. So many business people can benefit from your knowledge and research. Now, for people and students who are just hearing about global trade, who may want to consider a career related to global trade, is there something that you might like to highlight for them, to help them get started? DR. SARITA JACKSON: The first thing I recommend is understanding all of the different things you can do with International Trade. There’s logistic, marketing, research, policy, and understanding the impact of global trade on the economy. Also, understanding how businesses are affected can give people perspective of the bigger picture of global trade. One of the best ways to get involved in the field, similar to what I did, is through internships, through talking to people, and doing informational interviews. All of this helps the person to define the path he or she wants to take within this space called International Trade. PRO-GTL: This is all great information. It is great that our Pro GTL consortium is connected to you and others who are so passionate about making a difference in this field and in the world. It’s exciting!
  3. 3. DR. SARITA JACKSON: Thank you and I think the consortium is doing a great job. I’ve enjoyed the Pro-GTL events! I love the Coffee House Talk series they have, which is an excellent way of exposing students to business people in the industry. They bring in professionals from across different areas from the financial sector to people like me, who when I gave a talk there, I talked about my area of research. I think the consortium is an excellent point linking academics, the faculty of the different community colleges, and students together with the emerging private sector. The students can get a much more in- depth view of what they can do in this field. Everyone benefits. I have enjoyed being a part of the Pro-GTL Consortium and being active and participating in some of the talks and engaging with students, so that they can think about international trade in a different light. “Learning to fail early is what helps you develop grit. “ - Dr. Sarita Jackson PRO-GTL: I see that the name of your company is G.R.I.I.T. Is there something in your life that helped you develop grit, which may have contributed to your success? DR. SARITA JACKSON: Wow, where to start? Probably seeing the challenges my parents faced moving from Arkansas to Los Angeles. How basically they instilled in me that you can do whatever you want. Looking at them, how hard they worked, and the challenges they overcame to get where they are now in life. This set the stage for me to say well, “if they could overcome x, y, and z in their lives then it’s up to me to continue that, and whatever challenges come up I just have to look at that challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.” I would say that learning to fail early is what really helps you to develop grit. In my case when I have overcome those challenges I have had a much greater
  4. 4. appreciation of what I have accomplished as opposed to something being handed to me easily. PRO-GTL: That is so inspiring. Is there anything you have going on at the moment that could assist people who are interested in the services of your company G.R.I.I.T.? DR SARITA JACKSON: Sure, I am doing customized market research for companies interested in Latin America. All the information is tailored specifically for their company and how it can be competitive in Latin America and the Caribbean. So, if anyone is interested in that they can contact us at G.R.I.I.T. Also, something we have in the works is taking companies to China. Nothing is up on our website, but if someone is interested, I can run them through the information personally. PRO-GTL: Great! Thank you so much Dr. Jackson for sharing these insights with us today, I look forward to hearing about all your upcoming adventures and market research soon. To find out more about Dr. Sarita Jackson, please check out her website: http://griit.org/about/about-the-founder/ About the Global Research Institute of International Trade The Global Research Institute of International Trade (GRIIT), a Los Angeles-based think-tank and consulting firm, is known for its innovative, effective model designed to help businesses to develop their capacity to compete in the global economy. The GRIIT model is based on a scientific approach to international trade research and analysis. GRIIT combines more than 10 years of experience of scholarly research and advising governments and business associations throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern Africa, and the United States in the areas of trade negotiations, trade facilitation, and trade capacity building. Since GRIIT opened its doors in 2013, it has continued to collaborate with local partners to provide research training to business owners throughout Southern California, publish its research on trade competitiveness in the 21st century, and
  5. 5. guide a team of students as they conducted international market research for select Californian firms. For more information, visit www.griit.org.

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