Daniel Walter ’00 Finds a World of Satisfaction as a Director for WHO
On New Year’s Eve, 2000—just weeks after acing his last UC Davis MBA final—Daniel Walter, his wife and their two young daughters boarded a plane for New Delhi and a new life. They spent New Year’s Day “somewhere in the air,” arriving safely on January 2.
The Walters spent five “challenging but ultimately enriching years” in India, where Dan began his career with the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2006 the family moved from Delhi and its cacophony to the pristine order of Geneva, Switzerland, where Dan served as WHO’s financial policy coordinator. Then, in June 2011, he returned to “the field,” and WHO’s Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo. He’s spent the past year and a half as the director of administration and finance, responsible for approximately 300 staff in 46 African countries in the areas of finance, human resources, IT, procurement and security.
What drives you in your work?
Among my passions are geography, culture, politics, history and diplomacy, and my career involves me in all of these things. But the core of my work is finance and management, to which I can apply the knowledge and training I acquired at the GSM.
Where is your career headed?
I may be on track for executive management positions at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva or New York, but at this stage of my career my affinity is to be close to where WHO program delivery occurs, in places where the healthcare needs are the greatest and the work is consequential. It’s in these settings where I have the most authority, autonomy and responsibility—and where I have the greatest job satisfaction.
How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?
The GSM gave me the opportunity to take a different path. Without my MBA, I would not have had the credentials to pursue the job I got, or the confidence to take risks that my training and skills would translate across cultures. They do.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
The most amazing thing I’ve done since graduation may also be the most foolhardy. I learned to ride a motorcycle in New Delhi, where the usual state of traffic is mayhem. I did this so I could join friends—experienced riders all—on a motorcycle tour of the high Himalayas along the border with China. This was our Easy Rider experience, albeit with guides, mechanics and cooks.
Your favorite Graduate School of Management memory?
Maybe not my favorite, but I remember well the all-nighter my team pulled to complete our group project on Bogle Winery. It was like reliving undergraduate days. Part of that memory is the dinner after our presentation at the Pheasant Club with the client and faculty, feeling complete relief, with wine and conversation flowing freely. We had done it. By the way, Bogle never did implement our recommendation to take its brand upscale, understandably content to remain a successful and consistent value wine.
How do you support and participate in the School now?
I make semi-regular contributions to the Annual Fund and stay in touch with former classmates with the occasional update in the magazine, the Innovator.