Kati Suominen is a lecturer in international economics and business and digital disruption. She is the founder and CEO of Nextrade Group, which leverages fresh data, rigorous research and machine learning to help Fortune 500s, governments and multilateral development banks design new policy solutions and investment strategies to drive international trade. She is founder of TradeUp Capital Fund, a growth capital platform for globalizing companies fully acquired recently by Nextrade; founder and CEO of Business for eTrade Development, a nonprofit founded with the support of leading ecommerce, technology and logistics companies to drive ecommerce development worldwide; and co-founder of Digital Standards for Trade, a new Singapore-based institution aimed to digitize trade transactions end-to-end.
A scholar, author and business and policy entrepreneur, she is innovating at the nexus of trade, digitization and finance to unlock trade and economic opportunities worldwide. She serves as adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she founded a digital trade program working with companies such as eBay and Google, and is senior advisor to the G20-launched World SME Forum.
Suominen’s work centers on understanding the barriers businesses face to grow and globalize, and on developing innovative policies and public–private partnerships to unlock them. “The confluence of digitization, trade liberalization and financial innovation are opening unprecedented opportunities for people around the world to start their businesses and for companies to make, move and market goods and services faster and cheaper than ever before,” Suominen says. “However, many challenges still stand in the way, from stringent digital regulations to arcane customs procedures and digital divides. Policymakers and business leaders are tremendously hungry for data and research to identify these impediments, and for outside-the-box ideas to undo them.”
Suominen is the idea woman behind global initiatives such as eTrade for All, a global multidonor initiative to accelerate the adoption of e-commerce worldwide, now championed by the United Nations; and RTA Exchange, a new global forum on trade agreements sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank and International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development; and creator of the Ecommerce Development Survey and Index, which she is now building out with the World Bank. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Suominen has published more than 100 articles and nine books on international trade and globalization with leading academic presses, and is working on her 10th, Making Trade Great Again: How Disruptive Technologies Open Opportunity for All (Stanford University Press, 2018).
She has contributed several op-eds on trade, globalization, digitization and e-commerce, and financial innovation and has provided commentary to media that include Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, BBC, CSPAN, CNN, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Politico, USA Today, Time and U.S. News & World Report. She has also written numerous articles for leading peer-reviewed journals such as World Economy, Global Economy Journal, Journal of Globalization and Development, Economia (by the Brookings Institution), World Trade Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of East Asian Studies and International Spectator; and her articles have also appeared in numerous books.
Suominen previously served as a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (2010–12) and as a trade economist at the Inter-American Development Bank (2003–10). A native of Tampere, Finland, Suominen came to the U.S. on a full tennis scholarship on a Division I team.
Her advice to UCLA Anderson MBA students is to “make business school a journey of self-discovery. Use business school to discover and hone your strengths and learn early in your career to say ‘no’ to things you do not thrive doing. Focus on building on your unique strengths, listen to your intuition, and you will accelerate your growth. Remember that business school is not just about the classroom, it is fundamentally about the contacts you make. Nurture your Anderson network through your career — it is your power base.”
MBA, 2009, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Ph.D. Political Economy and International Relations, 2004, UC San Diego
M.A. International Studies, 1996, Boston University
B.A. Political Science and International Affairs, 1995, University of Arkansas at Little Rock