Alexandra Fiorillo

New York, New York, United States

Human Centered Designer, Product Designer, International Finance Specialist

GRID Impact

I am an international financial inclusion specialist and human centered design expert driven by an enthusiasm for finding new ways to solve problems. I am particularly passionate about applying human centered design, behavioral science and innovative technologies to achieve social impact. Currently, I am running a boutique consulting firm called GRID Impact, which serves as a collective for international development and social innovation consultants around the world. I have recently worked as a vice president for ideas42, an organization that uses behavioral economics to design new products, services and policies to achieve social impact. ideas42 is a non-profit organization with an operating budget of approximately USD$5million and has a little over 30 employees with staff in New York, Boston and Washington DC. There are two Nobel Laureates on the board of directors, as well as a MacArthur Genius award winner as a founder.

Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to find work that is both challenging and pays well but is also meaningful and rewarding. (It IS possible!)
• What does working in international development even look like? Do you live abroad or domestically? How often do you travel?
• What are some of the biggest challenges about working abroad/in developing countries? What are some of the wonderful things?
• If I haven't lived abroad, how might I gain the experience necessary to work in international development? What are alternative ways to get this experience and expertise?
• What are the different types of sub-sectors in international development available to work in? What are specific skills or backgrounds that might be helpful to find work in these sectors?

I am lucky my work is also my passion. To be able to get paid doing social impact work in developing countries is truly special. I work on some of the most persistent and challenging problems of our times - poverty, maternal and reproductive health, alternative energy - using innovative and creative problem solving methodologies.


In my role at GRID Impact, I manage product, policy and process innovation, field project implementation and analysis for domestic and international projects. I have always worked in this field, in different roles/iterations -microfinance, impact investing, behavior change, impact evaluation, enterprise development consulting for governments, non-profits and for-profit companies with a social interest human centered design. I speak regularly at conferences on a variety of these topics. I received a Fulbright fellowship award for my work in microfinance that allowed me to live and work in Ecuador for a year researching indigenous populations' access to financial services. I have also published several papers and articles. Over the last 10 years, I have worked at ideas42, MicroFinance Transparency, ACCION International, Financial Sector Deepening of Uganda, the Urban Institute and Women's World Banking.

I am motivated by knowing my work is helping the world become a better place. The hours might sometimes be long, but the rewards are many. I get to travel to Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East on business trips, which means I get to experience many new cultures regularly. No day is like the day before and I am constantly challenged by new things.

Every year of my career I have learned new skills, content areas, solutions, approaches, etc. It is important to stay open and flexible and be willing to learn new things. Becoming an expert in your career does not mean you can only learn through work - take classes, participate in workshops, attend events, network with other experts - whatever it takes to continue your education and develop new and important skills.