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Rob Stoelman, Bangladesh

the fact that I was following this distance learning programme was acknowledged as a positive sign of my commitment to become a good development worker

MSc in Managing Rural Development (CeDEP distance learning graduate)

During a career break I worked as a volunteer for VSO in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. It was during this time that I started to get a more professional interest in development work, and decided to seek employment in this sector.

UNDP had started a large programme ($25M) in this part of Bangladesh concerned with development and confidence building and I was initially offered a volunteer position as a district officer.  I realised that having a Masters degree was important for career development with agencies such as the UN. I also felt that a qualification in the development field would enhance my performance as a development worker. Therefore, I decided to embark on a distance learning programme, and needed one that would give me the flexibility to plan my study time around my schedule whilst living abroad. This was the case especially when I progressed to a paid position with UNDP and even more so when our son, Chomok was born!

I chose the CeDEP programme because I felt my strengths lay in my management experience. I felt my best chance for progressing in a development career would be in more general positions such as manager/coordinator, rather than the specialist ones.

Before my studies I tended to depend on my management experience and followed largely a “common sense” approach to development issues but I now have a more in-depth understanding and work from a more theoretical framework and also am more able to contribute to strategic discussions.

During my studies I was promoted to the position of Chief of Implementation, a member of the senior management team. It is my understanding that, the fact that I was following this distance learning programme was acknowledged as a positive sign of my commitment to become a good development worker. Furthermore, I also believe that my performance has improved thanks to the insights I have gained from my CeDEP studies. Both have contributed to this appointment.