April 14—Foreign Service Officer Matt Yarrington is taking a break between diplomatic postings to hone his economic skills, assisting Nathan Associates with Southeast Asia projects.
Mr. Yarrington will spend five months of on-the-job training at the firm, having recently completed an intensive, 26-week course in economics at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute equal to a master’s program. Though he works on economic development, his academic training is in Islamic Studies: he holds a doctorate in the subject from the University of Edinburgh and has taught related courses at U.S. universities.
Why Nathan Associates? The firm and Mr. Yarrington were just the right fit. Since September 2013, he served as lead officer for the Lower Mekong Initiative, a partnership between the United States and Burma, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam designed to foster economic growth in the region. Nathan has worked in Southeast Asia since the 1950s. Mr. Yarrington’s Nathan acquaintances include Jack Andre, a Nathan principal associate and former State Department officer. Both recognized the opportunity that the firm’s economic work would provide to build on the training at the Foreign Service Institute and the real-world experience of the Foreign Service.
Although Mr. Yarrington is officially here for training, there’s no doubt he will enrich Nathan’s work with his insights gained from a decade in South and Southeast Asia. His chief project will be to contribute to policy studies and capacity assessments and advise members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on economic integration as well as trade and investment liberalization. This will be done with the APEC Secretariat in Singapore and through US-APEC Technical Assistance to Advance Regional Integration (US-ATAARI), a project that Nathan supports for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“I’m grateful to Nathan Associates for this opportunity to put my recent economic training to immediate use with a global economic consulting firm, including working on APEC and Southeast Asia,” Mr. Yarrington said. “I look forward to making a meaningful contribution, as well as new friends and colleagues.”
He will also produce a quantitative and qualitative study of diaspora remittances to developing countries, an increasingly important international financial flow. After his stint at Nathan, Mr. Yarrington will be posted to the Middle East, where he will pursue his career goal of advancing “shared prosperity and economic development.”