Dawud Mohammed Ali
MSc Management and Implementation of Development Projects
Why did you choose to study at The University of Manchester?
I am from Samara town of the Afar regional state of Ethiopia. I chose to study at The University of Manchester because of its academic excellence particularly in the field of development and its profound ranking and reputation at global level. In my country, Ethiopia, The University of Manchester is known for being one of the giant academic institutions of UK that many people dream of joining.
Why did you choose your particular course?
MSc Management and Implementation of Development projects is the course I studied at The University of Manchester. I decided to study this field because I wanted to acquire practically applicable knowledge and skills of managing and implementing development projects. Prior to my arrival at the University, I worked for international NGOs like Save The Children International and federal government institutions where I managed development projects of both national and international scope. Such experiences made me realize that I am a project management practitioner and should dig deeper into the field and achieve professional excellence so that I would be able to plan, manage and implement development projects professionally. In addition to my work in charity organizations, I was also working as a lecturer at one of Ethiopia’s state- owned higher education institution, Samara University, where I taught several Business Administration courses to undergraduate students coming from different parts of the country. As academician, I was expected to excel in the field of project management and be able to publish high-quality academic journals. Hence, my decision to study the course came from the desire to learn the science and art of managing development projects and to be a better academician with the ability to critically analyse facts and information. Thanks to Manchester Business School and Global Development Institute of The University of Manchester, now, I know how to produce high quality academic journals and how to manage development projects professionally. My first ever academic publication has been realized few months after my graduation.
Under the supervision and guidance of Professor Paul Barry, my thesis investigated “Non-governmental organizations and their role in addressing youth unemployment in pastoral areas of Ethiopia”. My experience with thesis writing was a bit challenging but pleasing experience for I have met my dream of graduating with distinction scoring a ‘distinction’ grade in my thesis.
What have you done since graduation?
A month before my graduation, I was offered an employment opportunity by an American International NGO, Creative Associates International, to serve as consultant Senior Program Development Manager of a USAID/OTI funded program of U.S Government in Ethiopia. The main objective of the program was to support the smooth transition of Ethiopia’s reform process into multi-party, multi-voice state. I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer for two reason. First, the offer did not sound a mere job opportunity but a national call to serve my country in its critical moments as the nation was, and still is, going through massive social and political transformations. In this regard, I wanted to commit myself to a national cause and respond positively by contributing my fair share of knowledge. Second, the offer had a direct correlation with my professional background as Project Management practitioner and was an important training ground to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from the University of Manchester at a national level. As a result, I ended up accepting the offer and managed several program activities that supported the transition process of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the job didn’t last longer than six months due to the corona pandemic which disrupted our operation in the country. Meanwhile, I am also working for Samara University, Ethiopia, as a lecturer and researcher of Business Management courses. I am still serving as a full-time employee of the university but rarely working due to the pandemic.
Has your qualification helped you in your career?
Before joining the university of Manchester, I had studied in India for two years pursuing a post graduate program in Business Administration. Before that I had also completed my undergraduate program for three years in Ethiopia. Unlike my experience at the University of Manchester, the education systems of both countries focused on the exam-based assessment of students when it comes to evaluating the performance of students. Whereas at the University of Manchester, students are assessed and earn their grades based on their ability to produce good quality essays of compellingly convincing arguments supported by credible evidences. This kind of assessment method improved my management and critical thinking skill as project management practitioner and honed my academic writing skill as academician. In addition, the balance of theoretical and practical skills maintained in the education system was very rewarding. Lectures are supported by classroom demonstrations, project works, group assignments, international trips to overseas countries. Such activities helped me gain deeper understanding of the project management field.
Where there any specific modules or lecturers who particularly inspired you?
The GDI lecture series where big time personalities such as renowned politicians, authors, industry leaders and former Prime Ministers are invited to share their experience on certain topics was among the most inspiring experiences I witnessed in the university.
Was your degree funded by a scholarship or donor?
My study was fully funded by Chevening Scholarship of the Foreign and Commonwealth office of the UK government. Receiving the award made me consider the UK as my second home for my stay in the country was one of success and rewarding. The treatment I received from people throughout my stay was worth appreciating and I am indebted to it. Chevening did not only sponsored my education, it also helped me network with likeminded individuals and life time friends both from UK and the world.
What is your best memory from your time at Manchester?
I left Manchester with plenty of memories. Travelling to the four kingdoms of UK, discovering the astatic beautify of scenery, meeting new people, learning different cultures of British people and studying in modern classrooms with diverse group of people were among the best things that happened to me.
Do you have any tips or advice for current or prospective students?
For current postgraduate students considering continuing a PhD program, my advice is to focus only on their education and avoid work for part time jobs consume much of their time. Admission to PhD program is quite competitive and requires securing good grades at master’s level. It is of a challenge to secure good grades while working. Hence, dedicating full time to the demanding academic environment and working hard to graduate with good grades will help those who aspire to pursue a PhD program.
My advice to prospective student, especially those from my country, considering to study in UK is that their decision to join GDI will not be regrettable one. Rather, it is a pleasing and rewarding academic journey that everyone shouldn’t hesitate to try. In Ethiopia, most people perceive that studying in European counties such as UK is an impossible adventure and I am here to prove such perceptions are wrong. For anyone who meets the requirement, making it to the UK universities is not that difficult. Hence, I encourage people to give it a shot.