A diver­sity of knowl­edge and cul­ture pieced together from inten­tion­ally varied co-​​op and intern­ship expe­ri­ences as an under­grad­uate at North­eastern have pre­pared Michael Lake for his role as the exec­u­tive director of the World Class Cities Part­ner­ship (WCCP), a new project of Northeastern’s School of Social Sci­ence, Urban Affairs and Public Policy aimed toward building rela­tion­ships with cor­po­rate, gov­ern­ment and uni­ver­sity part­ners around the world.

Twelve years ago, he landed at the Fed­eral Reserve as its youngest ever bank exam­iner. He roomed in hotels and trav­eled to var­ious New Eng­land banks rating their loan port­fo­lios with co-​​workers who he came to think of as family.

He landed at an Aus­tralian air­port with two suit­cases and merely a verbal promise of a job at a soft­ware firm in Sydney. He quickly became its director of finance.

Things tend to work out,” Lake says. “When trav­eling, all you need is a pass­port, a credit card and a plane ticket, and you can sur­vive anywhere.”

He landed in Dublin, Ire­land, as a policy research ana­lyst for former Irish Prime Min­ister John Bruton. He explored much of Europe.

He landed in the halls of the White House as spe­cial assis­tant for White House Oper­a­tions with direct access to a $54 mil­lion budget and as one of only four indi­vid­uals reap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Bush after the Clinton administration.

And he stands as the only stu­dent in North­eastern his­tory to grad­uate as a quin­tuple major.

The breadth and pres­tige of his co-​​op expe­ri­ences, how­ever, rival and per­haps sur­pass his aca­d­emic achieve­ments, which encom­pass degrees in polit­ical sci­ence, man­age­ment infor­ma­tion sys­tems, finance and insur­ance, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and entrepreneurship.

The prac­tical, expe­ri­en­tial learning side of the North­eastern cur­riculum intro­duced me to the real world,” the 2002 grad­uate says. “Having that foun­da­tion to build on has made later suc­cesses pos­sible. To suc­ceed, you need to work hard, main­tain a pos­i­tive atti­tude and build gen­uine rela­tion­ships – all skills I learned at Northeastern.”

He uses other skills he devel­oped at North­eastern, such as team­work and time man­age­ment, in his day-​​to-​​day duties as a leader of the WCCP. The pro­gram will con­vene an inter­na­tional group of munic­ipal offi­cials and prac­ti­tioners, uni­ver­sity fac­ulty and stu­dents and policy inno­va­tors from sev­eral world­wide met­ro­pol­itan areas to iden­tify shared urban issues such as afford­able housing, the envi­ron­ment and edu­ca­tion and uti­lize research data, sta­tis­tical analysis and social indi­ca­tors to drive policy devel­op­ment and create social change.

The WCCP will not only strengthen the rela­tion­ship between busi­ness, gov­ern­ment and higher edu­ca­tion throughout the world, but it will also present the oppor­tu­nity for cities to share what they have expe­ri­enced and learn from each other,” Lake says.

He hopes to gather eight to 10 cities to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram before its ini­tial con­fer­ence (planned for later this year) on deter­mining which urban issues mem­bers of the part­ner­ship will study. In addi­tion to Boston, prospec­tive cities include Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia; Kyoto, Japan; Hangzhou, China; Cape Town, South Africa; Alexan­dria, Egypt; Haifa, Israel; Barcelona, Spain; Frank­furt, Ger­many; Dublin, Ire­land; Van­couver, Canada and an as of yet to be deter­mined city in Latin America.

Lake recently trav­eled to Ire­land to dis­cuss the WCCP with offi­cials from the Dublin City Council and Dublin City Uni­ver­sity. And mem­bers of the part­ner­ship, he says, have already pre­sented the pro­gram to those in the Dublin Cre­ative Alliance, a group of uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges assem­bled by the Dublin City Council.

As rela­tion­ships con­tinue to be built and the need presents itself, there will be more face-​​to-​​face com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” Lake says. “Even in a high-​​tech world it is still invalu­able for building new relationships.”

After ini­tial research on a par­tic­ular issue, mem­bers of the WCCP will develop a “task force to fur­ther study the best prac­tices and develop poli­cies appro­priate for mea­suring and ulti­mately imple­menting poli­cies which might require leg­is­la­tion,” Lake says, noting that each city will, of course, tailor poli­cies toward its own needs.

Lake con­siders North­eastern – par­tic­u­larly its Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy – the cat­a­lyst for such progress.

The strongest rela­tion­ship North­eastern has is with the city of Boston,” he says. “As a uni­ver­sity and as a city, the ben­e­fits from that part­ner­ship have been iden­ti­fied and expe­ri­enced in many ways.

The Dukakis Center has his­tor­i­cally proven itself as a ‘think and do’ tank; not only is it capable of research, but it works on follow-​​up imple­men­ta­tion, is results ori­ented and pas­sionate about the work it does. We will take that pas­sion, record of results and models used to achieve it, to cities and uni­ver­si­ties around the world.”