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At the International Rescue Committee, Rebecca La-Touche is Negotiating Change

Written by Molly Forman on Jan 8, 2020

Related content: Strategic Partnerships, Digital Education

More than 70 million people worldwide are uprooted by crisis. For the International Rescue Committee (IRC), this isn’t a statistic—it’s a call to action. As a world-leading humanitarian organization, the IRC has spent 85 years and counting helping victims of conflict and disaster gain control of their future.

With a powerful, purpose-driven mission, we knew the IRC was an organization worth getting behind. By offering scholarships to 2U-powered graduate programs and short courses, we’re helping IRC employees maximize the impact they’re making on the world.

Among these employees is Rebecca La-Touche, IRC’s head of philanthropy, who recently completed the London School of Economics (LSE) Negotiation Programme. We sat down with Rebecca to learn how lessons gained in the classroom are inspiring global change—one life at a time.

You have a storied history of philanthropy work. What inspired your decade-long career in the charity sector?

I’ve always had a strong interest in the world around me and wanted a career in something that really made a difference—I wanted to do something to make a change. Through working in philanthropy, I have been able to pursue something close to my heart whilst also being able to deploy my academic experience and develop skills.   

Fundraising seems to be a theme throughout your work experience. What is it about securing gifts that gets you out of bed each morning?

Philanthropy is a powerful driving force with an increasingly important role in today’s world. It allows organizations like the IRC to innovate and take risks, making things possible that otherwise couldn’t have been achieved—whether that’s a new idea or a program that has a great capability to deliver change. It’s incredibly satisfying to work with people who care about social change and making a difference, and it’s really gratifying to see the impact our work has on the world.

As head of philanthropy at the IRC, what does your role entail?

I act as a relationship manager, leading strategy to engage philanthropic individuals in the work the IRC does every day. I work closely with our wonderful supporters to help them learn about the IRC’s work–sometimes witnessing it firsthand–and connect their philanthropy with projects delivering truly transformative impact. My job requires an intellectual understanding of what the IRC delivers and social acumen to build relationships with our supporters.

You recently had the opportunity to take a GetSmarter short course through IRC’s partnership with 2U. Why did you choose the LSE Negotiation Programme? What were your goals in taking the short course?

Negotiation is an everyday part of my job. I wanted to enhance success in my role by improving the impact I'm having in those scenarios. My goals were to understand the drivers of negotiation, learn what motivates different parties in negotiations, and gain strategies for success. I met those goals and then some.

And now you’re a recent grad—congratulations! What were your three biggest takeaways from the negotiation short course?

I learned that preparation is essential for negotiations—without that, your chances of success are slimmed down. Second, you need to understand the party you’re negotiating with. And third, you need to have a really clear understanding of what your goal is—this way, you’re able to draw your own lines in the sand. I’ve already started using the processes and strategies I learned in the course to help me prepare for negotiations at the IRC.

Have you always wanted to continue your education? Why now?

I’ve always enjoyed learning, and I think it’s really important to develop new skills. Education enables you to grow in ways that otherwise may not have been possible. The LSE Negotiation Programme exposed me to new ideas outside of the charity sector, which was really useful given that I negotiate with business people on a daily basis—so there was a really nice alignment there.

What surprised you about the LSE Negotiation Programme? Anything you didn’t expect?

There was a really high level of interaction, which can be difficult to find in an online course. For every module, there were videos led by professors that were delivered in bite-sized chunks. You could engage in interactive quizzes as you went along the journey through the course, and every week there was an online forum where you could connect with coursemates to share how you’d been using new negotiation skills in the real world.

How was your short course experience? Would you recommend the LSE Negotiation Programme to others?

It was a really good experience. LSE is a fantastic institute, and the teaching always met a high standard. The program is flexible enough that you can spend more time focusing on the skills that you really want to develop further. It’s highly practical too, since you’re able to apply these negotiation skills to the real world. I definitely recommend this course to others—the time commitment was worth it.