Peter Demers is a 2014 graduate of the Elliott School holding an M.A. in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies. He currently serves as an Audit Manager at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., a private bank in New York, where he oversees the bank’s financial crimes programs. Prior to joining BBH, Peter was a consultant with the Financial Crimes Advisory practice of Ernst & Young LLP. While studying at GW, Peter was a Research Assistant at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, an intern at the Inter-American Dialogue, an Electoral Observer and consultant with the Organization of American States (OAS), and an intern with Kroll Compliance. Before pursuing his M.A., Peter worked at a youth education and gang prevention/rehabilitation organization in Nicaragua.
Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
I am currently an Internal Audit Manager for Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., a private bank headquartered in Manhattan. Specifically, I oversee the BBH Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions programs to identify programmatic deficiencies and opportunities for enhancements. My day to day would be meeting with leadership throughout the bank, reviewing their work, and figuring out what they can do better and/or how they should re-orient their programs.
How does your current position compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your degree at the Elliott School?
It’s interesting in that it’s a big change from what I envisioned entering my graduate studies, although ultimately it fits with my professional goals, personal interests, and educational and professional background. Although I had some opportunities in the public sector, I ended up working in private sector consulting as mentioned above. Although perhaps a less traditional path to take coming out of Elliott and certainly not one that I had envisioned, ultimately my career has stayed focused on working to understand and inhibit the operations of organized crime. As you can tell from my bio, this isn’t really that far of a deviation. I have also been fortunate in that my career has taken me all over the world, allowing me to indulge my passion for travel.
If I had to give one piece of advice, I would say that you should keep an open mind when weighing your opportunities after you graduate, but always be strategic. For example, private sector consulting gave me the opportunity to create a diverse and expansive network, gain valuable and marketable experience, and rapidly climb the ladder in a relatively short amount of time. I should also mention that my network includes colleagues who have gone from the private sector to positions with federal and state government agencies, so that door is still open.
What part of your career do you find most rewarding and why?
That’s an easy one – think it’s very rewarding to work in a role where I can make a direct and measurable impact on the operations of organized crime- through hitting their wallet.
In your experience, how has a graduate degree related to international affairs been valuable?
My degree from GW has proved invaluable in a couple ways. Primarily I’ve used the knowledge that I gained regarding the history and operations of criminal organizations on almost a daily basis. The Elliott School gave me an understanding of U.S. and foreign government operations and priorities that allows me to be forward looking with regards specifically to sanctions risk. I also feel that the perspective I gained through studying international relations helped me to better work with people during my travels to other countries. Additionally, and in a more general sense, researching and writing all those papers and giving presentations hones your communication and analytical skills, which are invaluable to have in your back pocket wherever you end up.
Finally, you are marketable. When I interviewed with EY they mentioned that they were interested not only in my knowledge but in the unique point of view that I would bring due to my background. I wasn’t just another MBA applicant for example. Additionally, you are immediately set apart right off the bat due to the recognition of GW’s quality and selectiveness. Although I didn’t have financial services experience, there was the understanding that I was somebody who had the capacity to pick it up and succeed.
Favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
Gym and a museum, or maybe a new Broadway show.
What three songs have you been listening to the most in the past month?
Alright this is going to be a little eclectic but:
You can declare any day a holiday. What’s the holiday, what day is it on, and what is it for?
November 3rd, 2020 for the presidential election and to make it easier for voters.
The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. Find out more about this program by creating a CustomViewbook!
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