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Eleni Yitbarek Abraham

Eleni Yitbarek Abraham, Ethiopia

Eleni Yitbarek Abraham, MPP Graduate 2008
Economic Development Advisor, SNV-Ethiopia

Hello everybody, I am Eleni. I graduated from the MPP programme with a specialization in social policy financing in July 2008. Before I started my master's at Maastricht graduate School of Governance I had a BA from Addis Ababa University and worked as a microfinance supervisor at the National Bank of Ethiopia.

After my graduation, I moved to Ethiopia and got a chance to work as a research assistant on a research “impact of regional power trade to the poor communities in the Nile basin countries” by the World Bank. Currently, I am working at SNV- Ethiopia that is working on the capacity building and is implementing activities in the fields of networking, policy dialogue and value chain development as economic development advisor. SNV-Ethiopia is working to ensure tangible impact in poverty alleviation and offers capacity development services in different sector. It is common to think that there is a huge gap between academic researcher and aid practitioner because the former is responsible to formulate theories regardless of the complexity in the ground and the later are mandated to implement practices that are intended to improve lives.

By being part of SNV-Ethiopia I think I am able to fill a gap between the two parties by participating in research, implementation and providing capacity building activities to policy makers. My study at school of governance takes most of the credit to give me a chance to be a part of SNV. Moreover, being a part of dynamic environment of school of governce with students from all over the world enable me to easily adopt with my colleagues who came from different countries and professional background.

 Anne-Marie Tosserams

Anne-Marie Tosserams, the Netherlands

Anne-Marie Tosserams, MPP Graduate 2007
Junior Project Manager Africa
VNG International, International Co-operation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities

"My career is exactly what I hoped to achieve when I started the master's programme"

‘Via the School’s contacts I had the opportunity to carry out an internship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. Working for the department ‘Direction Effectiveness & Quality’ was a very valuable learning experience. The department examines the effectiveness and quality of Development Cooperation activities by collating, recording and analyzing relevant data. As a result the department makes policy recommendations and develops as well as maintains instruments for implementing policies on cross-theme and cross-country issues. MPP could not have been a better preparation for this. My main assignment here concerned capacity development. This is a complex issue, but is one of the most fundamental elements for successful Development Cooperation; without capacity development, a successful and sustainable policy cannot be implemented. In addition I was assigned a position on the organisation committee for a conference that involved all Heads of Development Cooperation, who are normally based at Dutch embassies around the world. This enabled me a sneak preview of the diplomatic world.

Through this internship I made contact with my current employer; VNG International, the International Co-operation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities. This organisation aims to facilitate decentralisation and to strengthen local governments in developing and transitional countries. My career direction, as it is now, is exactly where I hoped to be when I started with the master’s programme. The School could not have prepared me any better!’

Nicola MagriNicola Magri, Italy

Nicola Magri, MPP Graduate 2009
Intern, Povery and Rural Development Unit
UNDP Honduras

"The academic training received was always aiming at designing, implementing and improving public policies".

My name is Nicola Magri, I come from Italy and I am an Alumni of the MPP programme. I graduated in July 2009 after a fantastic semester with the migration-pioneers, the first group of brave MPP students who chose the great Migration Specialization!
After my BSc. in Political Science I was looking for a master’s programme with a focus on public policy and development. Maastricht University is very renowned and I was happy to see that within Maastricht University, the MGSoG has a specific focus on what I was looking for. I really miss the months of hard work (but great time!) at the School; I was impressed by the familiar atmosphere there and the interaction with the professors and the many PhD students who were continuously supporting us. The most important aspect, in my opinion, is that the School has a very pragmatic approach and the academic training received was always aiming at designing, implementing and improving public policies.

The day after the closing ceremony I flew to India to join the multinational Infosys Techonologies Ltd., an IT giant with 105.000 employees based in Bangalore, for a graduate internship programme called In-Step. My duty station was the Infosys office in Chennai and I was assigned to the Infosys Diversity Office. I was in charge of designing e-learning tools on Diversity and Inclusion so that the company can better respond to and leverage the growing diversity of its human resources. Moreover, I was asked to propose a new CSR approach which I presented to N. R. Murthy, the famous founder of the company. And believe me, India is definitely “Incredible”!

After this two-month project, I started an internship with UNDP Honduras where I am currently working in a UN inter-agency project on youth employment and migration. Migration represents a huge challenge for Honduras and this experience is a great opportunity for putting into practice what I learned in the master’s; moreover the country has just recovered from what followed the coup-d’état of June 2009 and this has made everything more interesting. In the project I am in charge of organizing the meetings with more than 30 municipalities of the country while engaging the Honduras Diaspora in the US and Spain with the goal of channelling remittances towards productive and philanthropic projects in the communities of origin.

Lisa JacobsenLisa Jacobsen, United States of America

Lisa Jacobsen, MPP Graduate 2006
Programme analyst, US Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs

"Learning New Perspectives"

Hi! My name is Lisa Jacobson. I live in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, and I work in Washington, D.C. I came to the Graduate School of Governance at Maastricht University as a mid-career professional, having already worked in the public sector in the U.S. for several years, primarily for the U.S. Government. Though I already had a master’s degree in a related discipline, I chose to pursue an MPP at Maastricht to keep current in the field of public policy and to gain new perspectives by studying in a European setting. I am currently employed by the U.S. State Department where I work as a program manager of an assistance program that helps countries to develop strategic trade controls and enhance border security in order to meet international standards and mandates. I believe that it is important to understand the viewpoints of others in the world in order to take on the challenges of the future in a more cooperative fashion. I found that the MGSoG was a great place for critically examining public policy issues and discussing solutions. The facilities at UM were state-of-the- art; the faculty was well-qualified and accomplished in their field; the class programmes were multi-disciplinary; and the class discussions were always thought-provoking. So, regardless of where you are in your career path – whether just starting out or at mid-career -- I would highly recommend pursuing a master's programme at the MGSoG for gaining valuable insight into the current issues in the field of public policy and for learning new perspectives.

Arthur VernooijArthur Vernooij, the Netherlands

Arthur Vernooij, MPP Graduate 2006
Project Manager Branches, FME-CWM
The Netherlands

My name is Arthur Vernooij and I’m one of the very first MPP graduates, with a specialization in Globalization, Trade and Development. Before joining the MGSoG, I had a BSc in International Business Administration. I wrote my thesis on trade negotiations within the World Trade Organization.

Even before completing my thesis, I had the honor to work with Peter van den Bossche on a research commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This research, on the legal and economic implications of trade restrictions on non-product-related production methods, aimed to influence to policy making process on products such as biofuels, products of child labor, wood, animal products. These topics were as interesting as they were complex. No surprise that, five ministries (who all had their own political and legislative agendas) made very little progress even up till today. My internship really was a perfect opportunity to put my MPP knowledge into practice. As this ministry offers many internship opportunities for (almost) graduates, I would recommend this to all Dutch MPP students

As patience is not one of my virtues, but I still had an interest in matters of public policy, I successfully applied for a job at the BMC Group, a advisory and interim-management company that exclusively works for non-private institutions. I did assignments at a health care institution as well as a small municipality. After a year, I decided to switch jobs again. As my interest in trade-related topics still existed, I applied for a job at FME-CWM, the largest organization representing the technological industry.

In my current job as project-manager, I run projects for both the environmental and food technology sectors. The overall aim is to represent the interests of our members in these sectors. As the majority of our members is rather export-oriented, I am involved in the realization of trade missions and other instruments to promote these sectors worldwide, such as: trade-fairs, marketing campaigns, and by building networks through embassies, trade associations and other public and private organizations. My academic background gives me the right mix of knowledge and skills to grow further in my current job, for example towards a level where lobbying and policy influencing is involved.

Considering the glances I have had so far at either a very international and very local level of public policy, the knowledge and insights I gathered during my year at the MGSoG have been indispensable.

Leeanne GrassnickLeeanne Grassnick, Germany

Leeanne Grassnick, MPP Graduate 2007
Associate KPMG Advisory
United Kingdom

"Knowing yourself comes before understanding others"

Two years have passed since I entered the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance building. I was tense, nervous, excited but most of all I was curious. After having completed a bachelor in social sciences the biggest question awaited me: what’s next? I had the intention of specialising in a field, which focuses on international as well as national politics and ways of thinking. When I read about the Master of Science programme in Public Policy and Human Development, my question was finally answered.

The MPP programme is structured in an incredibly constructive manner. The first semester aims at supplying students with ‘general knowledge’. Courses such as risk and uncertainty, international relations and public economics filled us with theories and ideas. However, the exciting bit was not only leaning about the ideas of important politicians, scientists or philosophers but to come up with our own ways of thinking, our own ideas—our politics. In accumulation to this the second semester allows people to choose a specific track. The track is meant to give students a chance to specialise in one explicit area o f policy building. All courses were driven by experts, coming from well known international universities or institutes. Hard work was the key to success. But when I define hard work it involves team work. This team was not just a composition of random people from a lecture. No, these people were friends. People one can talk to, act with and most importantly people one can trust.

After handing in the final draft of my thesis a familiar question came to my mind—what’s next? To be honest I was scared. This was it; the big world was ahead to me. Where would I work? What kind of job would fit to me? Will I find a job?

Today, half a year later, I am working for KPMG Germany as a consultant. I love my job. I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for the programme. I learned so much! And most importantly, I learned so much about myself. I had already spent three years studying in the beautiful city of Maastricht, which I personally always liked to call ‘little Paris’, and I would not have wanted to end my last year with anything else but the academic programme of the MGSoG and the wonderful people that fill it.

Diego MartinezDiego Martinez, Ecuador

Diego Martinez, MPP Graduate 2007
Deputy Director, Social Protection Program, Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, Ecuador

“The only way to make a difference"

‘Ecuador is a highly instable and vulnerable country. With its geographical location, the country is prone to be affected by volcanic activity, floods and not to forget, capricious earthquakes. Instead of investing in sustainable, risk-management policies, the government is actually only following an emergency solution path, thereby looking only at the economic aspects of most problems. I was working in the public sector for 7 years, more specifically, for the Ministry of Economics and Finances. As the focus of my work was primarily on economics, I decided that in order to really design sustainable policies, I needed to deepen my knowledge on public policy issues.I heard about the School and its multidisciplinary approach through a graduate. Exactly this multidisciplinary approach is what attracted me to the programme in public policy and human development: a programme that not only took into account the economic side of developing policies, but also, the social, cultural and legislative aspect. This, I believe, is the only way towards a more sustainable future and long term solutions: the training of versatile people who are internationally educated and through this, can look at problems from a wider perspective. The only way to make a difference I think is through awareness creation. This will eventually and hopefully lead to positive changes. The teachers at MGSoG train students to be critical and creative. Together with the international expertise from professionals, teaching in many courses, I feel that I am well-prepared to go back and make a difference.

Kinfemichel AbrahaKinfemichel Abraha, Ethiopia

Kinfemichel Abraha, MPP Graduate 2007

“It opened up my world”

‘If someone would ask me to summarize my year in Maastricht at the MGSoG in one sentence, I would definitely say that ’it opened up my world’. While the original plan was to come to Maastricht to start with the master’s programme in Economic Policy Research, luck decided otherwise. I eventually joined the master’s programme in Social Policy Design. As I come from the private banking sector in Ethiopia, the world of social policy issues was all completely new to me. In my work I was busy devising plans to make more money, while in my training course at the School, I would be busy thinking out efficient budget schemes for social policy projects in order to improve human conditions. Through the diverse experience and backgrounds of my fellow students, their country’s specific problems and sometimes emotional stories, I feel that I have gained an indispensable knowledge of the reality of the world’s problems. This knowledge has inspired me to pursue a different career for when I return to Ethiopia. The idea now is to try and find work at an international organisation or NGO and contribute to improve the situation in my country. The only way to really do something about today’s problems is, in my opinion, by paying the knowledge forward and thus creating awareness to as much people as possible. That is why I am grateful to have had the chance to ‘open up my world’.

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