Alumni Spotlight: Diane Alleva Cáceres

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Diane Alleva Cáceres graduated with a Ph.D. in International Affairs, Science, and Technology in 2015. After graduation, Alleva Cáceres continued her career in international trade, but she also managed to stay close to Georgia Tech.

Read more about her life and career since receiving her Ph.D.

What are you up to post-graduation? What led you there?

For the past seven years since graduating, I have been building my international trade, investment and enterprise growth consulting practice, teaching part-time at Georgia Tech in both the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the Scheller College of Business. At Tech, I have been fine-tuning research for publication and participating in expert panel discussions and interviews in my area of expertise. I worked for 20 years in the field of international trade, investment, and global development before pursuing my Ph.D.; I was a non-traditional student pursuing another degree mid-career. Since graduating, I’ve been applying my new knowledge — both conceptual and theoretical — to client projects from global value chain analyses to innovation strategy and corporate global growth strategy development.

My work and new degree have elevated my connections and contributions to foreign policy and international organizations, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, where I have been an elected life member for 15 years, the International Women’s Forum, and the Bretton Woods Committee.

What’s your favorite part of your current role?

I have always enjoyed working at the nexus of business, government, and academia. This approach, while very difficult, is highly rewarding and helps me uncover surprises, as well as new ways of thinking and approaching today’s global challenges. It’s that creative process at the edge of these domains that really gets me excited.

I also enjoy the freedom to design strategies for my own firm and for government and private sector clients pursuing interesting, impactful work in international trade, foreign direct investment, and innovation.

How do you think your Georgia Tech international affairs education prepared you to succeed?

It helped me reach that next level as an expert, combining theoretical and conceptual knowledge, research skills, and my experience as a practitioner. Georgia Tech and the Nunn School are especially strong in producing well-trained graduates equipped to address global challenges.

I am now asked to speak on high-level panels related to topics such as the global politics of technology, industrial policy, technological innovation, economic development, trade, and foreign direct investment. The press reaches out to me for insights into current events, including the war in Ukraine and its economic impact on U.S.-Europe trade. I have also spoken on investment relations to the 2008 global finance crisis, how firms have adjusted their global growth goals, and how governments are adjusting or creating new industrial policies for the 21st century. This positioning has helped me secure research fellowships, including the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in Canada in 2019. The Ph.D. program combined with my previous work experience with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Australian Trade Commission, and others has broadened and deepened my knowledge and skills to help me design and implement new projects at higher levels.

What’s something that surprised you about post-graduation life?

Well, I was a non-traditional student. I had already had a 20-year career in international trade and investment consulting before pursuing a Ph.D. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. closely related to my applied work, so transitioning to a higher level within my existing career focus was a natural process. I was also raising my daughter with my husband here in Atlanta. She was four when I started the Ph.D. and 11 when I finished!

A surprise related to post-graduation life was the feeling I had to take a break from research. Basically, I had to give my mind a break from such an intense experience, so I focused on producing in the non-academic world. This led me to become president of the World Trade Center in Atlanta while pursuing consulting.

What work of yours has made you particularly proud?

Completing a Ph.D. mid-career is incredibly difficult given family obligations, opportunity costs, and just the sheer nature and rigor of the process. It’s a mindset change as well. I’m very proud of just successfully completing the degree.

Also, I am CEO of my company, Market Access International, Inc. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. Running a successful consulting practice for so long is something I am very proud of. We’ve been through many changes, yet through each experience, we’ve adapted and learned to be creative. It’s those creative moments and fascinating new projects that are very rewarding. We are a private-sector partner with both corporate and public-sector clients leading long-term international trade and investment projects like the Europartenariat (a European Commission and EU member international trade and investment initiative), the Southeastern US/Canadian Province Alliance (SEUSCP), and others. Producing impactful work with repeat clients and partners over a long period is another example of some work that I’m proud of.

What’s something you miss about Georgia Tech?

Given that I teach at Georgia Tech part-time, I’m not sure there’s anything I miss at the moment. However, my daughter, who is now a senior in high school, practices with her swim team every evening and some mornings at the CRC. I’ll miss watching her swim at that pool since she’ll be off to Swarthmore College next year!

What’s one piece of advice that you have for students who are graduating soon?

Please try not to stress over your job search. Data shows that your generation will not only have about four different careers over your lifetime, but the way in which you work has changed with an increase in virtual and hybrid approaches. And it could continue to change. So, my advice initially would be, if you can, find a way to take some time off to do something you may not have a chance to once you begin to settle into your first career and personal growth path. If you can, travel the world, as more countries have opened up since Covid, volunteer on a project, coach a team, put thought into what your true strengths and interests are, not what you are pressured to develop and pursue. Your parents, coaches, teachers, and friends all want to support you. Sometimes, though, we feel pressured to pursue, say, that finance career when we really want to start our own firm, or become a writer or a musician.

I also let provide, for what it’s worth, some additional advice to my students:

  • Use your imagination.
  • Say “yes” more than you say “no,” even if it’s uncomfortable.
  • Yes — build skills, but also build deep, broad knowledge and networks over time.
  • With the three “Ls,” life-long learning, you’ll become a strong version of yourself!

Can students interested in pursuing a similar field reach out to you?

Sure. Students can email me at and or connect with me on LinkedIn.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: gwyner3
  • Created: 03/18/2022
  • Modified By: gwyner3
  • Modified: 03/18/2022


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