Alumni reflections: How the MPP programme helped launch their careers

💭 Curious about how your career might look in 1-10 years after graduating from our MSc in Public Policy and Human Development?
💡 Here, eight of our MPP alumni give you some insights into their working lives and your possible future.


🎓  Francesco Iacoella – 2017 graduate, Risk and Vulnerability specialisation
💼  Impact Evaluation Analyst at UNICEF Evaluation Office (New York)

“It is hard to overstate the impact that the MPP had on my career. I was always drawn to the study of vulnerabilities in humanitarian settings but was only after the MPP that I started seeing myself as a researcher and understanding the relevance of impact analysis. The support that UNU-MERIT gave me during and after my graduation helped me develop the skills that led me to my current role at UNICEF.

As a consultant, I analyse data to assess impact, design future impact evaluations, and provide technical support to country offices.”


🎓  Keire Murphy – 2020 graduate, Migration Studies specialisation
💼  Policy Officer with the European Migration Network, based in the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin

“The MPP programme gave me a fantastic background in governance, policy and migration studies which is very relevant to my current work. The Migration Studies specialisation in particular provided me with an excellent understanding of the theories and realities of migration, which has enabled me to bring this perspective to Irish research and to work towards informing migration-related policy debates in Ireland. The thesis also prepared me for in-depth research in a way that has proven invaluable.

I conduct research on Irish policies to enable comparison at the European level, and also conduct social research which has included migration decision-making, integration, and attitudes to diversity. Our research is often used to inform debates on migration and policymakers.”


🎓  Lana Eekelschot – 2021 graduate, Migration Studies specialisation
💼  Research Analyst in the Home Affairs and Social Policy Team at RAND Europe in Cambridge, focusing on topics such as migration, security and social inclusion

“I can honestly say that the MPP program gave me the knowledge and tools I needed to start my career in social policy research. After completing the program, not only did I know for sure that I was going to try to do work that would be meaningful and have impact, but the programme’s extensive focus on the connection between policy, research and human development made me confident that I was capable of doing so.”



🎓  Nard Huijbregts2013 graduate, Social Protection Policy Design and Financing specialisation
💼  Lead Social Policy Advisor at the Economic Policy Research Institute (based in Cape Town, South Africa)

“The impact that the social protection specialisation of the MPP has had on developing the capacity of social protection practitioners in the field cannot be underestimated. Hardly ever do I go on a work mission in Africa, Asia or the Pacific, and not bump into a fellow MPP graduate, working for the UN, national governments, development banks or academia. For me personally, MPP has taught me both the qualitative skills necessary to analyze the context in which development interventions operate, and the critical quantitative skills that help strengthen the evidence-based nature of the advice I put forward to governments on the best course of action.

I have conducted research and provided policy advice to over 50 countries, primarily in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East, working on projects for the Asian Development Bank, UNICEF, ILO, FAO, UNDP, UN-Women, WFP, UNAIDS, Save the Children, the African Union and various government ministries.”


🎓  Samet Sevket Bulut – 2017 graduate, Risk and Vulnerability specialisation
💼  Climate Change Specialist at the Asian Development Bank in Manila, the Philippines

“The MPP provided me with a solid base on understanding the interlinkage between science, policy and economics. This coupled with my specialization in risk and vulnerability helped me to apply the theoretical knowledge gained into practice. Particularly, the process of conducting research for my Master Thesis was a major contributor to where I am today. I interviewed experts in the area of climate change, disaster risk management, and insurance and besides getting the relevant data for my thesis, I was able to grow my network. This was key for entering the job market.

Currently, I work as a Climate Change Specialist at the Asian Development Bank in Manila where I engage in ADB’s upstream and diagnostic work, support the integration of climate change in country planning processes, and contribute to the development of project pipelines. My main focus lays on supporting our Developing Member Countries in converting their NDCs into bankable climate investment plans and supporting access to climate finance. In addition, I am involved in ADB’s Long-term – Low Emission Development work.”


🎓  Shantal Martis2022 graduate, Social Protection Policy specialisation
💼  IF Project Officer at the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF) in Brussels

“I had professional experience in the field of human rights and social inclusion but needed to gain deeper knowledge on the reasons behind (global) inequality and exclusion. The MPP programme allowed me to get acquainted with important concepts in the social protection and general human rights field, complemented with both qualitative and quantitative research skills.

With regards to my work, the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF) represents people with a rare disease called Spina Bifida and/or Hydrocephalus (SBH) and their families worldwide. As the IF Project Officer, I support the development, implementation, and evaluation of multiple key projects relevant to the SBH community. In order to reach the mission of improving the quality of life of people with SBH and to reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects through raising awareness, political advocacy, research, community building, and human rights education.”


🎓  Willem Kleinendorst – 2021 graduate, Social Protection Policy specialisation
💼  TVET (technical and vocational education and training) consultant & researcher at CINOP Global in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands

Firstly, the MPP helped me in a practical way because Tamara Kool (who was my thesis supervisor at the time) hinted ECBO / CINOP as an interesting organization to work for. I had briefly been in touch with Bart Kleine Deters who is a researcher at ECBO. I applied for the internship and stayed on afterwards.

The philosophical version of how the MPP helped me is that education in development has always been something close to my heart, coming from a family of educators and development workers. However, the MPP really helped me realise how important the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is in solving the global challenges of today. Climate change mitigation? Educate! Robotisation and automation of low skilled labour? Re-educate! Rising gender-based violence cases? Raise awareness and educate! High unemployment rates? Re-skill and educate! Labour market challenges are often a result of a slow-paced education system that cannot keep up with the labour market. Our challenge is to make TVET systems more market oriented and agile.

At CINOP, I am engaged in research on all topics related to the labour market and education. We do monitoring and evaluation work for the Dutch government (or more scientific research) into quality assurance in TVET, education-labour market connection, lifelong learning, teacher training programmes, and innovation in education (for instance, serious gaming in TVET education).

I also am engaged as a trainer for international development projects, where we train mostly on practical hands-on skills that can be used for income generation, and job creation. These may take the form of entrepreneurship trainings, or curriculum development workshops for TVET colleges in the Global South. By making curricula more up to date and relevant to the rapidly changing labour markets, we improve the job readiness of TVET students.


🎓 Felizia Pasteiner 2023 graduate, Social Protection Policy specialisation
💼  Intern at the International Labour Organization in Colombo, Sri Lanka

After defending my master’s thesis in August 2023, I began an internship at the ILO in Sri Lanka. Before starting the Social Protection Policy specialisation a year ago, I didn’t really know what social protection entailed. Nowadays, I find myself engaged in discussions with trade union representatives on the potential structure of unemployment insurance in Sri Lanka. Simultaneously, I’m developing my own actuarial models and I’m also working with administrative data to assess the impact of child labour, following the various crises Sri Lanka has faced in recent years. The looming presence of the International Monetary Fund in Sri Lanka adds another layer of complexity to the context, making the experience even more intriguing.

I am very grateful for the MPP programme, especially the Social Protection Policy specialisation. The knowledge we gained is proving to be incredibly valuable, and I now truly understand its significance. Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a poverty alleviation symposium organised by the Asian Development Bank, the Institute of Development Studies and others. It was a great experience to contribute with my technical knowledge and learn from hands-on programme implementation experience.

Working at the ILO country office has been a fascinating learning experience. I’m enjoying my time here and I appreciate the opportunity to skip the European winter months!


MPP 2021-22 cohort