What is your position today?
I am currently working at the European Commission, as an International Cooperation Officer within the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO). Most precisely, I am working for an emergency fund, created in 2015 to deliver an integrated and coordinated response to the diverse causes of instability, irregular migration and forced displacement in Africa. This fund covers 26 countries in the Sahel & Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa and Northern Africa.
I am part of the Coordination team of the Fund and I focus mostly on the questions linked to the monitoring and evaluation of the projects implemented in Africa. This includes a wide range of activities, from the treatment and analysis of data to the reporting and communication of results. I permanently interact with colleagues from different geographic units in order to transmit relevant information and ensure data consistency. I also prepare presentations to various stakeholders (NGOs, Member States’ Development Agencies) as well as policy briefings and written answers to parliamentary questions.
What was your path from your Master’s graduation to this current post, and what are the key elements, which helped making your choice?
After graduating in 2015, I had the opportunity to do a first six-month internship within a consulting firm in Paris and a second one at the EU Commission within the Economic team of DG DEVCO in Brussels. After that, I joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London as a Research Assistant within the team of the Chief Economist for almost a year. I contributed to the preparation and publication of a report, based on a large-scale EBRD and World Bank surveys, to assess life satisfaction and impacts of economic and political change in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Central Asia. I then came back to Brussels to work for a think tank analysing European economic policies. These diverse rewarding experiences in both private and public sectors gave a real sense to my studies and strengthened my conviction that the statistical and economical knowledge gained at TSE could be powerful tools to serve and improve public policy. I also realised that it was important for me to work at the crossroads not only of economical and geopolitical but also social and cultural concerns. At the end of the day, the European Commission, and more specifically DG DEVCO, appeared to me as the place where I could grow professionally and mobilise everything I had learnt in recent years in terms of public policy evaluation and data analysis.
According to your professional experience, what are the most useful skills you obtained during your degree?
Studying at TSE gave me a sound knowledge of both economic theory and international development problematics such as foreign aid, North-South relations, institutions and governance, which is proving to be very useful today in my daily work. TSE allows developing a solid culture in this field combining both the study of fundamental papers and inspiring lectures. For instance, I remember exciting courses on the rise of new foreign aid donors and its geopolitical implications.
Moreover, the degree gives strong quantitative and analytical skills, which are highly valued in the job market, especially in the field of monitoring and evaluation – applied econometrics, program evaluation, data and policy analysis. A concrete example of group project was for instance the assessment of the effects of a media campaign on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in Ghana.
Finally, the multicultural and vibrant atmosphere of the school with all courses taught in English and students from all over the world helps to develop good communication and interpersonal skills, which are particularly useful within international organisations.
What advice would you like to give to the TSE students, or to the school?
The most important advice, although quite general, would be to remain curious and continue to learn as much as possible. In this light, I think it is essential to always ask questions and to strengthen your critical thinking.
More specific advice to students who would be interested in working within international organisations would be, first, to multiply experiences abroad, both studies and professional experiences, in order to develop strong adaptability skills and to be able to work in different languages. I would also strongly encourage you to gain expertise in a specific field or geographical area. Besides, do not hesitate to contact directly TSE Alumni: there are many people working within international organisations (World Bank, UN, OECD, EU institutions) who can share their experiences and precious advice. Finally, yet importantly, I think that motivation and patience are essential if you want to join an international organisation since recruitment procedures can be very long and competitive.