University at Albany

Q & A with Taryn Couture, BA '11, MPA '12

If you had to condense your job description into an elevator pitch, how would it read?

Taryn: As an employee at Futures Group I work with international governments, NGOs, CSOs, and IGOs to build their capacity to develop and implement health programs that address family planning, gender-based violence, maternal and child health, and HIV prevention and treatment. I work specifically in our financing and costing department. As a costing expert I determine the cost of a whole program area, or specific activities. Costing helps governments plan for the implementation of resources, assess their financing gaps, and determine what interventions should be prioritized for funding.

What about your job inspires/excites you every day?

Taryn: I am one of the lucky people who are able to say they love going into work every day. In this work I get to see real change take place in the field of international health. Since starting this job I have seen the creation of policies, the financing of a program I championed for, and have helped to train a health official on how to cost a health program. As an added bonus I travel for a living.

How did Rockefeller College prepare you for your career?

Taryn: I wouldn't say I predicted getting into a field of finance and statistics; in fact it wasn't even in my study track. However, this is the work I now do, and without the required statistics class and financial management class I would not be nearly as prepared. Additionally, as a costing expert I am required to develop what we call "costing tools." Many of these are Excel-based, which requires skills I learned specifically in my data modelling class. As an intern with Professor Erika Martin I was able to learn the important basics for HIV care and treatment that carries over into our review of HIV commodity procurement and the basic package for medical care. Professor Ellen Rubin and Professor Anne Hildreth gave me important guiding support to improve my writing, speaking, and basic human skills.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a current Rockefeller student?

Taryn: Anyone interested in pursuing a path in international development should absolutely take time to spend some time in a third-world country. With the help of Jen Maclaughlin, Rockefeller College helped to facilitate my travel to South Africa, where I worked in the villages on domestic violence and HIV education. This experience gave me an important edge in the field, particularly for working and travelling in Africa.

When you're not on the job, where can you be found?

Taryn: When I am not at work I am usually out at random concerts in the city, or on a nice evening run.