Jared Berends, New Zealand
Masters in Applied Science (International Rural Development) at Lincoln University
My development career started in rural Mongolia, where I spent three years living in small, rural towns teaching English, working alongside local NGOs and Faith-Based Organizations, and implementing small-scale community development initiatives. This caused reflection on my own life, the privileges and blessings of a growing up in New Zealand, and a sense of calling to help those most vulnerable. However, motivation did not provide the skills needed to work in the development sector. I wanted to build on my Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and grass-roots experience in Mongolia with technical qualifications. After searching for study options in New Zealand, I pursued a Master’s degree in International Rural Development at Lincoln University. This laid the foundation for my career, providing theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Interactions with fellow students from Asia and the Pacific, both in and outside the classroom, fostered discussions layered with personal experiences and industry knowledge.
Before graduating from Lincoln University, I secured work as a Programme Officer with TEAR Fund NZ where I put my project design, management, monitoring and evaluation skills into practice. After two years, I was posted to the Solomon Islands as Operations Manager. This was a real stretch in my career, moving from managing a team of three in New Zealand to a team of more than one hundred field staff, spread across multiple islands in the Pacific. We moved to Myanmar in December 2013 where I worked for World Vision as the Programme Quality and Development Director. There, my role was to lead teams to design, monitor and evaluate an annual portfolio amounting to almost US$28million. I now work for World Vision Bangladesh as the Senior Director of Operations, overseeing the implementation of our programmes and grant-funded projects. Again, I am stretched and challenged, refining my leadership and management skills in a large organisation.