Aida Erkihun Bayissa

MSc International Development

Where are you from? Why did you choose to study at The University of Manchester?

Aida Erkihun Bayissa

I am from Ethiopia and I chose to study at the University of Manchester because of the post-graduate programs offered and GDI’s reputation for impactful research.  In addition to my online search, I reached out to a few UoM Alumni reaffirming the acclaimed reputation of academics and the diversified programs.

Why did you choose your particular course?

I chose to study International Development as it was perfectly aligned with my career aspirations. I used to work closely with the government which helped me develop an understanding and interest in how developmental policies directly influence the growth trajectory of a nation as well as the livelihood of citizens.  The courses I selected offered a deeper theoretical understanding of development and encompassed a diversified approach.

My thesis focused on the paradox of Ethnic Federalism and Developmental State in Ethiopia- examining the complementarity and contradiction between an ethnic federal structure and the developmental state ideology. Having a supervisor who has extensive experience in the research area and familiarity on the Ethiopian context was invaluable and provided me with tailored support and guidance.

What have you done since graduating? 

Upon completion of the program, I joined the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as a consultant and I am embedded in the Ethiopian Investment Commission working on Investment policy and promotion.

My work involves policy research and strategy development focusing on priority sectors and putting forward the required policy intervention to create an enabling business environment. Our work at EIC also includes developing tools for effective investment targeting, promotion, and facilitation as well as managing direct engagement with investors. 

It was always my ambition to get involved in development policy at the national level and contribute to the vision of making Ethiopia a middle-income country by 2025. My current job allows me to contribute to that vision since FDI is a major catalyst for development as it plays a key role in creating jobs, Knowledge and technology transfer, and promoting export.

Has your qualification helped you in your career? 

Yes, Definitely! It has been an asset Having a degree from the prestigious UoM, ranking 27th in the world, and GDI being one of the ten best developmental schools in the UK.  My GDI qualification coupled with my previous work experience has allowed me to explore promising opportunities and to stand out.

Where then any specific modules or lecturers who particularly inspired you?

It has been an incredible journey to tap into the lecturers' wealth of expertise. I was able to relate most of the courses to real work experience beyond developing a theoretical background. The two courses, Planning & Managing Development and Politics and Governance of Development comes to mind, as I found both courses not just interesting but also applicable. 

Was your degree funded by a scholarship or donor?

I was at GDI under the Equity and Merit scholarship, if it wasn’t for the scholarship and its generous sponsors, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to attend UoM. The scholarship process was simple and easy to follow, and the coordinators were helpful and provided guidance relentlessly  I am grateful and honoured to be a recipient of the Equity and Merit scholarship.

What is your best memory from your time at Manchester?

What I enjoyed the most was the diversity of the people and that I was able to meet and share experiences with different people from all over the world. 

Do you have any tips or advice for current or prospective students? 

As the program can be intense, since it's packed into one year, I encourage prospective students to go to the courses offered carefully and pick those that are strongly aligned to their area of interest and think about a dissertation topic in advance. If you can, talk to people who were enrolled in the programs you are interested in to get a sense of how the courses are structured. And yes, If you’re new to Manchester always have an umbrella!