During our Spotlight on MPPGA Alumni Careers series, meet the UBC Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) alumni who are committed to addressing the urgent and complex public policy challenges facing the world.
Today, we are featuring Aboozar Ahmadi (’19) who works as a Policy Officer for the Department of National Defence-ADM Policy in Ottawa, Canada. Aboozar is originally from Burnaby, B.C. During his time in the MPPGA program, he pursued the Global Governance and Security stream.
Could you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how you became interested in public policy and global affairs?
I came to Canada in 2012 as a refugee from Afghanistan. In an attempt to better understand my lived experience and the world which had given me that experience, I obtained a BA in International Relations from UBC. However, for better professional prospects, and more importantly, in order to be able to more effectively contribute to shaping the world I had always aspired to better understand, I pursued a graduate degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC.
Could you elaborate on an issue you are passionate about?
When I started the MPPGA program, I was most passionate about issues of international security and development, but in the course of the program I grew increasingly more interested in global governance and the evolution of the contemporary global international system and the challenges it faces in the context of the global south, particularly that of China’s growing economic and political influence.
Which opportunities did you participate in during the MPPGA program at UBC that contributed to your career journey?
Three things come immediately to mind. I think my Global Policy Project was the most constructive experience at UBC as it allowed me to work with my team for an extended period of time on a real policy issue and apply what we had learned in our classes. Not only did this experience reveal the challenges of applying abstract concepts and methods, it also consolidated in my mind the importance of teamwork, communication, and planning.
The second opportunity pertains to my attempt in summer 2018 to get a job through the Co-op program. Even though due to my family circumstances I did not apply for many positions, and I was not successful for the ones I did apply to, the lessons I learned in the process of revising my resume and preparing for interviews were instrumental in my success when I applied for various Federal Government recruitment programs.
The third item is my experience as a Teaching Assistant when I was doing my master’s degree. This experience helped me gain a deeper understanding of the topics I studied as a student, but more importantly, it allowed me to improve my communication skills and professional manners.
What was your first job after graduation from the MPPGA program?
Having come to Canada in 2012, I did not have much professional experience in Canada. It was a major concern for me when I applied for the MPPGA. But in the course of my graduate studies, along with expanding my knowledge on issues of public policy and global affairs and attaining certain skills, I developed the confidence to overcome my hesitations to not only apply for some of the Government of Canada’s most competitive recruitment programs but to be successful in few of them. I took the interview for my job as a policy officer at the Department of National Defence (DND) a few days before my graduation ceremony for the MPPGA, and I started my job in September 2019.
What makes you proud about your current job? How does it relate to your MPPGA degree?
Quite honestly, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to start my career at DND. Not only does my job offer great learning and training opportunities and allow me to work on topics that I am passionately interested in, but it also allows me to work with an incredible group of people whose personal and professional qualities have been a source of inspiration for me.
That I was successful in the Policy Officer Recruitment Program (PORP) is because the MPPGA program allowed me to develop and deepen my understanding of public policy decision-making processes, and issues of international security and governance. More importantly, the MPPGA exposed me, through its diverse student body and faculty, to different perspectives on these issues and equipped me with the tools and the confidence to engage them seriously and professionally.
What is your advice to current students and alumni?
I am confident that MPPGA students are already set for success in their careers. My only word of advice for them is to remember that MPPGA, despite its heavy academic focus, is a professional program that offers students opportunities to develop their professional skills. Take advantage of those opportunities.
Thank you Aboozar!