Andrew Bird, Wellington, New Zealand
Masters of Development Studies, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW)
Undertaking a Masters of Development Studies at VUW allowed me to complement what had been a practical background (farming and development) with key academic skills such as critical thinking, research, writing, and communication, as well as improving my understanding of different ways of thinking and understanding the world. My studies and discussions with fellow student and lectures helped me develop my cultural awareness and recognition of my own positionalities. Some of the most impactful experiences and learnings over the course of my Masters came not from the lectures or academic articles but from the discussions and experiences with fellow students who came from all walks of life and countries across the development spectrum.
Development Officer, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).
At MFAT the role of a development officer is to help support the implementation and realisation of New Zealand’s aid programme. In my current role I work across Fiji and Vanuatu with a focus on primary sector, tourism, and humanitarian activities. In a day to day sense this entails some less exciting tasks (processing payments, reading reports, contracting, and financial forecasting) but can also include visits to in-country activities, instigation of new activities, engaging with stakeholders and Government officials, contributing to the strategic direction of country programmes, accompanying foreign dignitaries, and being across some of the wicked hard political and geopolitical issues of our day. MFAT also encourages staff to move around the Ministry so in the future I could be working in our regional team on security issues, a specialist team like infrastructure or our humanitarian team.