Shara L. Aranoff (USA, 1984-1985, Fullbright Scholar)
Chairman, US International Trade Commission (2005-2012)
What is the most distinct memory of your studies at the Graduate Institute ?
One distinct memory is of M. L'Huillier's course "La politique monétaire internationale", which I remember as one long, impassioned plea for the world to return to the gold standard.
Why did you choose the Institute and Geneva as a place to study ?
I was determined to pursue a career in international trade law. I was attracted to the Institute by the opportunity to study with a number of GATT professionals on the faculty and by the opportunity to study trade policy issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. Being able to wander the halls of the GATT building at will, experiencing the atmosphere, was a very important learning opportunity. I have returned to Geneva and to the GATT/WTO building numerous times since on business, but it now holds less mystery and much more security than in my student days.
Have you kept in touch with the Institute alumni ?
At first, quite a few. After more than 20 years, there is still one with whom I am in regular contact.
Have such contacts been useful in your professional career ?
"Wander the halls of the GATT building was an important learning opportunity..."
Yes. Learning about the diverse educational backgrounds and professional experiences of my fellow students at the Institute provided important insights that helped guide my early career choices.
What were some of the intellectual advantages of your studies at the Institute ? What were some of the disadvantages in comparison to other academic institutions ?
There were several important intellectual advantages. First, in the year prior to beginning my formal legal studies in the United States, I had the opportunity to study public international law and international trade law
from a civil law perspective. The next year, when I began to study the same subjects from a common law perspective, I had a far better context for how these subjects are learned and viewed globally. In addition, I benefited from studying economic development and trade issues in seminars made up of students representing countries on 4 or 5 continents - a range of perspective I could not have experienced at either of the universities I attended in the US.
Can you briefly present your professional career since you have left The Institute ?
Upon concluding my year at The Institute, I returned to the US and completed my law studies at Harvard Law School, followed by a one-year judicial clerkship. I then moved to Washington, D.C., where I have pursued a career in international trade law and policy, including several years in a private legal practice, followed by service in the Executive and Legislative branches of the US Government. In 2005, I was nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Senate as a Commissioner of the US International Trade Commission, where my responsibilities include adjudicating trade remedy proceedings and providing economic and policy advice to the President, the US Trade Representative, the Congress, and the public. I became then Vice Chairman and Chairman.
Do you have an anecdote of your years at the Institute which you would like to share with us ?
My favorite class at the Institute was a seminar on North/South trade relations with a very diverse group of students. I remember the professor telling us that, since neither French nor English was his native language, he would not require that the class be conducted exclusively in either one. So each student spoke in whichever language he preferred, which, despite making the room sound something like the story of the Tower of Babel, only enhanced the quality of discussion and the diversity of views expressed.