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Adam Saffer is the CEO of Gateway Development International, a consulting firm focused on bringing tech and infrastructure to frontier and emerging markets in Asia and Africa. He is a mechanical engineer who has spent most of his 35 year long career living and working in developing countries. Adam’s  first job after graduation was with Schlumberger, an oilfield services company where he worked as a field engineer. But after earning his MBA at Harvard University he decided to pivot into international development, specifically into working on finance and private enterprise projects. Adam graduated from Cornell University with an MS in mechanical engineering. 


  • What’s the difference between humanitarian and international development work (3:00)
  • What’s the difference between frontier and emerging markets (7:20)
  • Why Adam believes you should take good opportunities, even if they aren’t necessarily in your exact desired field (15:25)
  • Why Adam likes to be a professional foreigner, and why adventurous people should consider a career in international development (27:09)
  • Why you don’t have to study international development in college to make a career in international development (31:43)
  • Why it’s essential to have a good network of people to help you rebound from failures (35:25)
  • Why differentiating yourself from your peers and maintaining a big network is crucial to future success (40:05)

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