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Read about the experiences of alumni who've studied at the Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture and Economics.


"Studying a master's at Reading gave me the skills that I needed to operate in the real world. The course provided a wealth of useful knowledge and improved my confidence, which in turn enabled me to take on more challenging assignments."

Kasonde Christopher Kasonde, MSc Food Security and Development

Shari-Ann Palmer – 2018 graduate 


Now working as the Director of Public Relations and Communication for the Ministry of Justice in her home nation, Jamaica, MSc Applied International Development graduate, Shari-Ann Palmer, believes that the University of Reading’s Master’s programme gave her the framework that she needed to succeed.

“My time at Reading really helped me to broaden my knowledge and understanding about international development, challenging me to critically assess schools of thought on development issues and to assess how these might be applied to the Jamaican context.”

An interest in communications

Shari-Ann had a passion to work in the media from a young age, inspired by the power that communication has to influence people and their perceptions of the world, and how information shared empowers people. 

Prior to joining Reading, she worked for the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), the Government’s media agency, for five years. Two years of these were spent working as a Television Production Assistant, before eventually going on to work in public relations (PR).

“After spending almost two years in the TV department, I wanted more of a challenge, and a role that would allow me to work across all areas of media. As a PR Officer who represented government clients, I had input in radio productions, newspaper and television advertisements and various features; the role was diverse.”

“It also provided the opportunity to move from behind the scenes and instead have direct interface with clients which meant I was able to influence the direction of public activities.”

While working for JIS, she also spent a month covering an annual event called the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in the Cayman Islands.

This activity not only sparked her interest in the development sector, but would also shape her future career, as she used intense online marketing campaigns to increase awareness of Agriculture in the Caribbean and Pacific regions. 

“I met and interacted with development practitioners in agriculture and food security throughout the event. I was so impressed and motivated by their work to promote sustainable agriculture processes across the Caribbean, that I too wanted to make my own contribution to my country’s development. This is what led me to travel over 4,500 miles to join Reading.”

Reading – the pathway to success

As a result of the wide-ranging modules on offer at Reading, Shari-Anna was able to focus on the areas she required to fuel her success.

“The modules that I was able to study were varied yet appropriate for my career.” 

“Modules including Principles for Communication Design for Development; Agricultural Project Planning and Management in Developing Countries; and Human Resource Management, gave me the necessary skills to effectively perform in the roles I have had since graduating!

“In particular, as a manager, the Human Resource Management module has been useful in helping me to assess my team’s strengths and harnessing those to execute our publicity programmes, while identifying areas for improvement and getting the necessary training.

“Moreover, the Participatory Communication module I undertook focuses on empowering people through sharing information. In my current role, our aim is geared towards helping Jamaicans to access justice services by way of legal aid, free counselling to victims of crimes, restorative justice, diversion for children in conflict with the law and the opportunity to talk to experts.”

Reading offers a global education experience, attracting a wide range and diversity of students from more than 40 countries and it is this multiplicity that Shari-Ann believes has helped her.

“Working in several groups with people from varied backgrounds enabled me to develop my people management skills – skills that are crucial in my role today.”

In addition to her studies, Shari-Ann was involved in a number of extracurricular activities such as volunteering and working with the School for University-wide events.

“Keen to gain experience, I volunteered to provide online communication support for the Reading Refugee Group, where I was able to put into practice theories of communication methods and how to communicate to mixed audiences, as my role saw me developing online content for donors and the residents of Reading in general.

“I also spent some time as a fundraising volunteer with the Oxfam bookshop. This was my first experience with an international Non-Governmental Organisation and allowed me to appreciate just how much effort and organisation goes into funding and sustaining development programmes.”

Fight against poverty

Following graduation from Reading in 2018, Shari-Ann joined the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), an international institution at the forefront of the fight against poverty and sustainable food security in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

Appointed as Communication Consultant, Shari-Ann used the power of marketing to promote developmental change for the institution.

A couple of years later, having refined her skills further still, it is no surprise that she was recruited by Jamaica’s Ministry of Justice, and appointed as the Director of Public Relations and Communication, providing strategic leadership, and direction for the Ministry’s communication programme. 

“In this role, I develop and maintain a Corporate Communications Programme that is consistent with the strategic direction of the Ministry of Justice, oversee the planning and direction of special events, informing the public of justice issues and programmes, and also, advise the Minister and executive management team of public relations opportunities.” 

Looking back

Shari-Ann used her master’s degree as a stepping stone to achieve her aspirations and is keen to encourage others to understand that it’s never too late to study a master’s and revitalise your career. 

“I came to Reading at a time when I was looking for direction in my professional life. Further studies at Reading helped me to put everything into perspective , and provided invaluable experiences learning from development practitioners, as we all as other students from across the world.

“I encourage others to make the bold step to advance in their professional lives. In a world of grey, be red!”

Reflecting on her career, Shari-Ann shares some advice:

“My number one tip to success after graduating is to spread the word.

“You need to reintegrate yourself into the professional circles that you may have been absent from. They need to know that you are back on the market and available for new opportunities.”

Sarah Shepperd – PhD student at the University of Reading

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2018 with an MSc by research in Agriculture, Ecology and Environment. I am now undertaking my PhD research in Ecology and Agri-environment at the University of Reading.

My PhD project's working title: 'Soil faunal diversity and soil chemistry under diverse forage mixtures', aims to encourage a switch from intensively managed perennial ryegrass to a diverse forage system more supportive of soil health and sustainability by describing the benefits plant diversity has on the functioning of soil compared to ryegrass monocultures.

My main responsibilities to date while undertaking a PhD are to review literature, project planning, conducting experiments and subsequent data analysis. I have also been involved in poster presentations at conferences and researcher development courses.

I benefited from studying my Master's degree at Reading because the dissertation project was much more research based so this has helped towards my PhD in terms of time management and research skills. I would not be in my current PhD position without having completed my master's degree, as it bridged the gap between an undergraduate level degree and PhD so it certainly got me to where I needed to be.

During my time at Reading, I enjoyed the week long field trip where we visited a number of agricultural and ecological organisations as it showed me potential future career paths following the completion of my Master's degree. I also enjoyed the guest lectures which covered a wide variety of topics being delivered from experts in the field. Overall my experience at Reading was great, from the lovely green campus to the really knowledgeable academics and great teaching facilities.

Since completing my Master's degree, my biggest achievements have been attending a KEYSOM training school, submitting my Master's research for publication and passing PhD confirmation with no amendments.

Miguel Chaves – 2011 graduate

Coming from a background in agronomy and farm management, I joined the MSc Agricultural Economics to fulfil the will to pursue a career specialization in international agricultural and food economics. Studying at GIIDAE was an highly rewarding experience learning with an excellent academic body, in an enriching multicultural environment amongst colleagues from different backgrounds and experiences.

The flexibility between core and optional modules covering a wide range of contemporary topics related with economics, agriculture and development, trade, agricultural policies and the environment, enabled me to acquire a strong set of skills and knowledge about current world agriculture and food issues and their impact worldwide.

I particularly enjoyed how some of the topics discussed in class generated discussions extending long after school time, having a strong role in strengthening relations and building friendships. After this great year had come to an end, these relations and friendships evolved into an international network of friends and professional contacts that remain for live.

Now, equipped with these new tools, I feel fully prepared to embrace the career specialization I was seeking before the programme, in international projects related with agricultural and rural development or related with economic analysis and market research.

I am now employed as rice research analyst in Geneva.

Tuan Syaripah Najihah – Malaysia Higher Education Scholarship

I chose to study a master's in agricultural science as it will help me understand more about my field, Agronomy. With this qualification, I can pursue my study on to PhD level.

The lecturers on my programme are extremely knowledgeable and are keen to help students in developing their skills and knowledge. All my course mates are from different backgrounds and experiences, which I found to be very interesting. The facilities at university are really good.

We are offered a lot of additional classes to assist with our studies. It is really helpful as an international student. There is also lot of one-to-one support from academic staff to help students.

I've gained a lot confidence, especially in presentation and writing skills, making friends and speaking English.

I really enjoy studying here. It is better than I expected. Everyone is warm, helpful and welcoming. I do not feel alienated here. It feels like home. This university is very Muslim-friendly as it has Muslim Centre in the main campus and master study room to perform prayer as well as halal food on the main campus.

I would absolutely recommend a scholarship to students considering studying a Masters. It has not only helped pay for my tuition fees, but also gave me an allowance every month to pay for other expenses.

Larissa Setaro – Operations Assistant, Positive Planet International, Johannesburg, South Africa

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2014 and I am now working for a French Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which aims to develop the economic resilience of fragile populations.

To achieve its goal, Positive Planet is activating three essential levers: learning to create and develop an activity, financing an activity, and protecting revenues and accessing markets. With about 40 active projects, the organisation intervenes in more than 35 countries.

As an Operations Assistant, I am responsible for the supervision of the global project portfolio, making sure that all internal procedures are followed during each stage of project implementation.

I also collect and report on global performance indicators for PPI operations for our network of projects. Finally, I am responsible for specific M&E projects in which I have previous experience. As part of this, I support the development of internal knowledge management products.

I really enjoy working within a multicultural environment and getting to know a variety of contexts and projects. I also enjoy spending time making sure that all projects respect internal quality requirements and procedures, as rigour in project management is essential.

Throughout my time at the University of Reading I knew I wanted to work in the field on project management. My module in Agricultural Project Management, taught by Professor Srinivasan provided me a good understanding of the sector, which I applied after graduation as I spent two years working as a Field Project Manager. I really enjoyed the role, particularly as it gave me the opportunity to gain hands on experience

I also learnt the potential flaws of project implementation, and developed an understanding that project management procedures are essential to the success of a project. My current role allows me to experience a different angle of project management.

I chose to study at Reading as it is ranked as one of the world's best universities in the Agricultural sector. My Master's degree taught me the complexity of the development sector, as well as critical thinking skills that have enabled me to fight for ideas with solid arguments to back up my thinking. Studying at Reading opened a door, introducing me to a vast world in which I am now working, but still learning.

My Programme was very well organised with the core modules on agriculture providing a general overview of the main issues, which was a huge help in providing me with knowledge on the subject without an agricultural background. The modern learning environment, and the variety of teaching methods made for an engaging learning experience. Being able to choose modules which suited my interests, allowed me to really tailor my degree.

These were some of the best years of my life, as I had the chance to not only learn new topics which paved my professional career, but also have the chance of studying in a multicultural environment. This environment allowed me to develop a huge number of interpersonal skills such as diplomacy, leadership and team work, which are key in my current job.

I felt that the Reading experience unlocked my potential and kick-started my future. I would strongly recommend studying in the Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture, and Economics (GIIDAE) to my friends and colleagues, some of which have followed my advice and still thank me for it.

MSc Applied International Development

Cecilia Coccia – Financial Analysis and Planning Consultant, International Land Coalition

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, policy and Development in 2016 and I am now collaborating with the International Land Coalition (ILC), a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organisations working together to put people at the centre of land governance..

At the ILC I am a Financial Analysis and Planning Consultant, in which my job involves working with colleagues and our local counterparts to strengthen their organizational capacity with focus on their financial planning and management capacity. I support ILC members by helping them to adopt the best practices on budgeting and financial reporting that will build upon their financial capacities. This is a new area of interest for both our members and strategic partners that will help to promote mutual accountability and transparency among organisations. In addition, I assist my team with the management and enhancement of ILC online platforms, and with knowledge sharing within the membership.

From the beginning of my academic career I have dreamt about working within an International Organisation, and have focussed my attention and interests on subjects such as economic policy for developing countries, and management of agricultural projects.

I chose to study at the University of Reading as the Applied International Development programme offered an innovative learning experience, and its teaching system is designed to encourage students to actively participate in debates, lectures and seminars to expand their knowledge. The combination of lectures and lab sessions made for a varied and engaging course.

In addition, the flexibility to select modules which suit your interests allowed me to customise my Masters programme to my career aspirations. Module such as Gender and Development, Development Finance, and Global Environmental Change and Development have enriched me personally and professionally.

I would describe my time at Reading as inspiring, from the start I was surrounded by knowledgeable and talented faculty members and guest lecturers, who taught me to focus on opportunities rather than worries or limits, and contribute to knowledge rather than passively absorb it. I was also surrounded by wonderful friends and fellow students from all over the world who accompanied me on this journey and made me feel at home.

After having left the University I have been able to build upon my knowledge in economics and International Development and pursue stimulating work where I positively and effectively engage with team members and junior colleagues.

I would strongly encourage those who are still waiting for a life changing experience to invest in their future and join the Reading community. Every person you will meet there will somehow help you learn, practice and master your strengths and self-confidence.

Christopher Manda – Environmental Inspector, Environmental Affairs Department, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining

I graduated from the School of Agriculture Policy and Development in 2015, and I now represent the Environmental Affairs Department in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining on a technical advisory committee, responsible for overseeing the development of renewable energy in Malawi.

The Ministry provides policy guidance and direction on matters concerning natural resources, energy and environmental management in Malawi. My department (Environmental Affairs), is made up of four divisions; Information, Education and Outreach; Biodiversity Management; Environmental Impact Assessment and Pollution Control; and Legal Affairs.

As an Environmental Inspector, I am in the Information, Education and Outreach Division, involved in the development of information, education and communication materials tailored for policy makers and the general public. I currently lead the agriculture sector in a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded programme helping to establish a Greenhouse Gases (GHG) inventory system from Malawi to enhance our reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I am also an alternate government focal point for the Third National Communication (TNC) and Biannual Update Report (BUR) Projects, supported by UN Environment aimed at producing the TNC and BUR report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Being nominated as an expert on the roster of experts under the UNFCCC will enhance my contribution to the global policy and management of climate change.

My current role directly relates to what I studied and researched whilst at University, giving me the opportunity to put theory into practice. Climate change has been an emerging field over the years, with heavy impacts facing Sub Saharan Africa due to a dependence of the economy on climate related sectors such as agriculture, and there are few experts in this field in Malawi.

Working in the information, education and outreach division presents another opportunity to capacitate the national and district stakeholders and communities in climate change. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the field I am always keen to learn more.

During my studies I wanted to be a renowned climate change expert, and contribute to policy making in climate change, environment and natural resources at a national and global level. Working for the Environmental Affairs Department has provided me with the opportunity to achieve my career aspirations and contribute to national policy making and implementation of climate change, environment and national resources.

I chose to study at Reading due to its global reputation, high class teaching and research experience. Being able to be taught by lecturers who have a huge amount of experience and passion for development in my region, Sub Saharan Africa and Africa gave me a bigger drive to study there. The multicultural environment of the University of Reading and the extra-curricular activities have really enhanced my critical thinking, presentation, writing and interpersonal skills.

The Climate Change and Development programme provided real and practical issues of climate change, as well a learning being backed up by guest speakers who are experts in the field.

Since leaving University I have been the head of the Environmental Information and Publication Section, Focal point for the TNC and BUR projects, Lead the Agriculture sector for the GHG inventory System for Malawi, and I have been nominated to the roster of experts for UNFCC.

Daniel Collins – Analyst, Carbon Smart

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development with an MSc Climate Change and Development in 2017, and I am now working for a sustainability firm called Carbon Smart.

Carbon Smart's mission is to make sustainability work for everyone. They have supported over a thousand organisations to achieve their unique business objectives by setting and achieving their environmental and social performance. We offer tailored sustainability solutions for all types of businesses, whether it's a global corporation or a small business.

I am currently an Analyst within the Energy and Renewables Team, helping to find clear, practical sustainability strategies that contribute to a better world. My main responsibilities include coordinating data collection and analysis for energy audits and carbon footprints, providing on and off site environmental support to businesses, and creating marketing materials, articles and generating engaging case studies to highlight the work we do.

Having the chance to work at the centre of climate change and sustainable development challenges is a hugely rewarding experience. The sustainability sector is fast evolving although, it's a relatively new field therefore, being able to tailor my studies to address knowledge gaps and become a member of the sustainability professionals community is something I could not have done without the help of staff at Reading.

I chose Reading because I wanted to experience quality teaching and learning in a diverse, dynamic university with a rich history. The programme provided great flexibility in terms of the study choices I could make, allowing me to tailor the degree to my interests. I felt that a degree at Reading would allow me to take control of my own learning so that I could follow my interests, and it did not disappoint.

The Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture, and Economics (GIIDAE) impressed me with its diversity of student base, allowing me to learn alongside students from all over the world, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This enabled me to see topics from a number of different angles and experiences.

I really enjoyed every aspect of my life in Reading, both in academic and extra-curricular spheres. I was able to strike a great balance between my work and free time, which afforded me great experiences and the chance to meet new people.

Since leaving Reading I have been fortunate enough to get a job in my desired field of work, my programme gave my career the kick start it needed and the experience will certainly stand with me for years to come.

Chrishane Williams – Communications Consultant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD) in September 2016. Currently, I support the positioning of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as a lead agency in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, using communications.

FAO is an international organisation that carries out work aimed at eliminating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; promoting more productive and sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries; rural poverty reduction, and increasing livelihoods resilience to shocks, threats and crises.

My role as a Communications Consultant involves raising the visibility of the organisation's work in agriculture and rural development in Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize. We provide technical assistance to the countries in various areas, and are keen on encouraging dialogue with stakeholders, sharing information and success stories and fostering knowledge exchanges and partnerships with civil society, NGOs, development partners and key stakeholders.

The work that I carry out is heavily dependent on high quality content, and requires extensive research, interaction with local and regional stakeholders at various levels, and most importantly engagement with project participants.

I really enjoy interacting with farmers, fishers and community members as they share their experience of development aid and views on development issues. It is always fascinating to learn how various initiatives have an impact on their lives or equipped them to continue their advancement. This interaction allows me to gain a better understanding of the challenges and successes of development efforts, as well as it reminds me that we still have a lot of work if we are to achieve sustainable, positive outcomes.

The Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture and Economics (GIIDAE) provided me with a wealth of knowledge within the classroom, which I still refer to in my work today. Lecturers such as Dr Cardey and Dr Ainslie also sought and encouraged opportunities for our growth and engagement with the subject matter that made the experience more fulfilling.

Additionally, the diverse experiences of fellow international students offered a wide scope of views and insight into their country-specific development realities that further enriched my learning.

Whilst studying, I had the opportunity to undertake a six-month internship at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, and in doing so became a recipient of the Stanley Howard Hodgkin Scholarship and an Erasmus+ Traineeship. FAO offered eye-opening exposure on how the organization engages in development programmes and projects.

The internship also aligned well with much of the knowledge that I had gained in the classroom and left me feeling better prepared to engage with the development world as a communication for development practitioner.

I was driven to enroll in the University of Reading based on alumni reviews, available information on the study programme, and the responsiveness of the staff to my queries- areas which are very important for international students, especially when coming from another continent.

Upon starting university, I quickly realised that the reviews were indeed true and that Reading was the ideal choice on my path as a development practitioner. The exposure at Reading and through the internship proved to be simply irreplaceable and the beautiful green campus was a definite bonus, so in the end I am very happy to be an alumna of the University of Reading!

Soledad Muñiz – Head of Innovation and Development, InsightShare

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2008 with a distinction in MSc in Communication for Innovation and Development, and now work with communities around the world to address key issues through participatory video.

InsightShare is a community development organisation, working to capture the best aspects of communications technology and participatory techniques; supporting communities to explore their issues and devise solutions to the challenges they face. We aim to amplify unheard voices, and bring people together to focus on change.

As the Head of Innovation and Development, I sit on the organisation's senior management team, and am responsible for overseeing key areas of innovation, including the use of participatory video in M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation), research and humanitarian contexts. I am also in charge of project and business development.

I really enjoy the diversity of issues, projects and partners that I work on, as well as seeing tangible impacts in people's lives.

My position at InsightShare is directly linked to my career aspirations when studying, as I wanted to specialise in participatory communication. I benefitted immensely from studying at Reading, from the programme and professors who encouraged me to rethink my understanding of many issues, as well as the diversity of classmates who provided me with an international look into many subjects.

I chose Reading as I wanted to study the connection between communication and development, and not many other universities have a degree as well as the experience that Reading has in this area.

I was also drawn to the interdisciplinary perspective and experience of the professors in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. I loved the fact that the course allowed us to choose modules based on our individual interests.

Tamara Czetto – Senior Consultant in Risk Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Frankfurt, Germany

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2015, and I am now working as a Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an auditing and consulting company.

I work within the Risk Consulting department, which deals with governance, risk and compliance issues in the private sector. One of our main aims is to help clients prevent corruption, fraud, bribery and non-compliance with regulations, design respective communication campaigns and train people.

I am currently helping to design policies and training in order to help a company which faced a corruption scandal. In order to do this, we design and complete interviews with the employees to assess the situation, review current policies and training content and revise them in line with the needs of the client.

In another project, we advised a company on respecting international labour standards – for example, assuring health and safety at work, equal pay and preventing child labour. Within my own company, I was also able to start an initiative to support female leadership at work.

Throughout my time at University I aspired to working at a development bank or an international organisation however, I found that finding a permanent junior position right after graduating was very difficult. Many jobs were short contracts or unpaid internships and I felt that very few of these positions actually provided major improvements in developing countries, but rather bureaucratic, hierarchical and inert environments. It is this that made me decide to work on the business side, directly with companies operating in developing and emerging economies. I believe that the experience from my current job will prove very useful if I ever decided to join an international institution.

Studying at Reading helped me to find my job and excel at it by allowing me to broaden my horizons. We deal with companies that operate internationally, including developing and emerging economies, and I am grateful that my time at Reading taught me to better understand cultural differences and case-by-case approaches which are key for successful and sustainable projects.

I chose Reading as I was looking for an interdisciplinary degree surrounding developing countries, combining both economics and other social sciences. I especially wanted a hands on education not focussed on textbook models based on unrealistic assumptions about the world, but rather a degree that looked at real world cases. Reading offered all of these things, and had a great variety of courses, amazing experienced teachers and has a very good reputation in my area of study.

Being in an environment where professors were always happy to listen and help, and treated us as an equal was very motivating and helped me to raise and develop my own ideas, instead of just following common opinions. I also really enjoyed that we got a lot of reading material to study certain aspects further, but at the same time we were free to choose how and what to study.

My time at Reading was definitely the best time during my entire academic life. I made very close friends and I could study something I was very passionate about. I'm very grateful for that opportunity.

Ranjita Neogi – PhD student and Teaching Associate, Queen Mary University London, School of Business and Management

After graduating from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2016 with a Masters in Development Finance, I continued my studies exploring the financial access available to South Asian migrant communities in the UK.

My PhD at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is a comparative analysis of the capital accumulation and conversion process among Indian and Bangladeshi migrants based within the UK. Within this research, I use the concept of tangible and intangible capitals, and also the impact of different structural and agency related elements in defining migrant business strategies.

Alongside my studies I also work as a teaching associate within the School of Business and Management (SBM) at QMUL, teaching Financial Accounting, Work and Employment in Context, and Business and Social Approaches to Social Media.

I have always loved carrying out research, whether it is academic or corporate. Before pursuing my master's at Reading I worked for Deloitte - an audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management and tax company - as a Corporate Financial Analyst. However, after working there for five years, I realised I wanted to explore the implications of different economic and financial decisions on the broader society, hence why I chose to study Development Finance.

Before studying at Reading, I always thought I would go into a non-corporate advisory career as initially I was interested in taking up a consultant's job in the not-for-profit sector. However, during my master's, Dr Srinivasan made me aware of opportunities available in academia I previously hadn't considered. I realised that pursuing a career in academia would not only match my research interests, but also give me the opportunity to have a career in teaching or consulting.

The MSc in Development Finance was a stepping stone towards my doctoral studies. I learnt a huge amount from the taught modules, as well as working within Henley Business School as part of a project where I interviewed migrant business owners operating in Reading. This helped me with the development of my PhD research title and application. The support provided to me by Dr Srinivasan, the Director of the Development Finance programme, was a huge help in guiding me through my journey as a masters student to a PhD researcher.

I chose to study at Reading as I was looking for a programme that offered an introduction to the developmental side of finance. The programme offered a vast choice of modules which suited my requirements, and the module contents were also enriching in terms of learning.

The School of Agriculture, Policy and Development ranks as one of the top schools in the UK, which was very reassuring when searching for a course. I also received a Postgraduate Taught Country Scholarship from the University, which helped me greatly when financing my studies.

I enjoyed every aspect of the programme - the modules I selected offered an immense learning opportunity, and the lecturers were extremely helpful and guided me through my studies whenever required.

I owe a lot to the University of Reading for what I am doing today. Pursuing this MSc at the University of Reading has been a life changing decision in which I made wonderful friends that will last a lifetime. I would definitely like to go back and be part of the University in any possible way in the future.

Tarek Abdel Monem – Knowledge Management and Reporting Specialist (Climate Change Focal Point), UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2015 with an MSc in Environment and Development. I have always been interested in working in development, and after finishing my master's, I was fortunate enough to secure a job at the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), an inter-governmental organisation.

I worked at CEDARE's headquarter office in Cairo, Egypt. During my time there, I had the opportunity to work as a contributing author for a very significant UN Environment publication; this has probably been one of the key achievements since leaving Reading.

After this, I left CEDARE and joined UN-Habitat based in Cairo where I now work as a Knowledge Management and Reporting Specialist. UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat believes that urbanisation can be a solution rather than a problem, and it aims to encourage sustainable urbanisation.

My role here is very diverse - I am responsible for identifying and synthesising best practices and lessons learned from projects and programmes at country and regional levels. I am also involved in knowledge and information facilitation, and I manage the progress of our projects with a special focus on climate change and urban issues.

I have always believed that working in development would be very challenging, and so I thought doing postgraduate studies at the University of Reading would enhance my understanding of its complexities. My expectations were far exceeded; studying the MSc Environment and Development course was an enriching experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the programme, the group was amazing and very diverse, and I was very lucky to have Andrew Ainslie as the head of my programme as I really learned a lot from him academically and personally. The campus environment is also beautiful, and being so close to London meant I could meet even more friends.

Studying at Reading benefited me in various aspects. From an academic point of view, I have learned a lot about issues related to environment and development. The professors and supervisors were great in helping me write my dissertation, which looked at agricultural adaptation to rising  sea levels in Egypt.

From a personal point of view, I have been exposed to a lot of cultural aspects introduced by my peers from all over the world. I made a lot of friends and I am happy that we stay in touch.

I would describe my experience at Reading as "life changing", and studying here has definitely got me to where I want to be. I love my job and the work I do related to climate change in the Arab region is something I am very passionate about. In addition to my key achievements since leaving University, I would also have to say that marrying my wife last year has been the highlight for me.

Carmine Mereu – Consultant, Long Term Partners

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in September 2015 and I am now working as a Consultant at Long Term Partners, a Management Consultant firm based in Milan.

Long Term Partners, derived from Bain & Company, offers our clients services in the areas of strategy, organisation, extraordinary finance, and business ventures. As a Consultant, I am responsible for conducting quantitative and financial analysis, benchmarking and mapping of markets and competition, and conducting interviews with top managers and industry experts.

From day one I have been exposed to very challenging tasks and situations such as the development of strategic plans for big corporations that could heavily affect their future. In addition, I also take part in a table of discussions with CEO's and top managers of billion dollar companies, in which I am exposed to their thinking and attitudes.

Whilst studying at Reading I attended an elective course in management which gave me the drive and passion to further develop my understanding in this area, so much so that I won a scholarship from the Chinese Government through the University of Reading to study for an MSc in Management in Shanghai.

I chose to study at Reading due to its high ranking in the league tables. I really benefitted from my time at the University, and I still apply my knowledge surrounding economics and the food sector to my job. It is this knowledge that I feel has given me an advantage in the job market over those who have studied general economics or finance degrees.

Throughout my time at Reading I enjoyed the methodology applied to the programme, the professional atmosphere and learning from knowledgeable professors. If I were to describe my time it would be 'enriching and stimulating', I learnt a huge amount and it has lead me on to finding a very challenging job that makes me happy.

Barsabas Efuk Joseph Ojiok – Community Liaison Assistant, United Nations Mission in South Sudan

I started my MSc Food Security and Development in September 2017. After graduating from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in September 2018, I am able to continue working as Community Liaison Assistant for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

My department's, Civil Affairs, main objective is the protection of civilians. It also covers a range of programs which include peace building and conflict mitigation, dialogues, mediation, reconciliation and capacity building for the youth.

My work is multifaceted. I liaise with the government and the local community to ensure that the concerns and perceptions of the population are communicated effectively and in a transparent manner. I act as a language and cultural interface, engaging with both the civilian population and government in issues of mutual concern and cooperation. This involves planning, coordination and conducting community workshops that focus on conflict resolution and mitigation, dialogues and sports for peace activities.

Part of my work also includes the provision of local level facilitative support to UNMISS uninformed component and civilian substantive components based on the needs that they want to communicate.

I also support the activities of Dumudang agricultural Farm based in Jebel LADU. I provide consultancy work to the farm and the projects they are implementing.

I greatly enjoy being able to affect people's lives positively, being able to inspire others is something that I am hugely passionate about. I would like to see a society where everyone is free and dependent on their skills and knowledge. When I see this in my community, I will know I have made a positive change. Working with children, women, and youth on social issues through traditional mechanisms is the part of my job that I enjoy the most.

I chose to study at the University of Reading based on the fast response of Admission Staff as well as the diversity of the School. When looking on the website, I saw people from all different backgrounds represented in every activity.

In the future I hope to be in a senior leadership position in the field of food security within or outside the United Nations and addressing pressing issues in the field of food security.I believe that the content that I learnt as part of my programme at Reading will help me to achieve this. It has helped me to broaden my understanding of Food Security in which I now know about the entire food system and the role of NGO's in this issue, especially those dealing with humanitarian response and safety net. The use of case studies throughout my course helped me to understand why Africa and the rest of the global south still remain food insecure.