Author Archive for Elaine Kubik – Page 2

Post-graduation reflections from Boris Maguire, an MPA-DP alum in Tech4Dev

Part of what makes the MPA in Development Practice program so unique is the network you can build within your cohort and with the alumni. We always have a lot of #MDPLove for one another, and today alum Boris Maguire, MPA-DP ’15, shares with us his personal affection for the program and an update on his career post MPA-DP. 

SIPA Admissions Blog! Long time, first time. I write this from my balcony in Nairobi, Kenya, where I’m preparing to run part of the Nairobi marathon tomorrow. As an American running a Kenyan race, I’ve set my goal to “not last,” and I’m mostly just excited to see the Nairobi streets emptied of their usually horrific traffic. My wife and I moved here at the end of June, just a month after I received my MPA in Development Practice (MPA-DP) from SIPA, so we’re still adjusting. Back in Spring 2013 however, we were both in DC, nervously preparing to move to New York so I could start the MPA-DP program.

I had chosen the DP program for its emphasis on practical skills and field experience, as well as for its balanced structure; combining a rigid focus on integrated approaches to development with the flexibility to design my own sector or skill-based track. I got exactly what I wanted. Coming to SIPA after five years administering non-profit media development projects from a DC office, I was eager to make some changes to advance my career and quality of life. I wanted to get back overseas, to move into a management role with a for-profit company, and to move away from television and radio projects. I remained fascinated by the use of communication tools to drive private sector development, but I had become increasingly interested in the massive enabling power of mobile and web-based communications technology. The MPA-DP program seemed like the best way to obtain the skills, knowledge and experience that would position me to design and oversee development projects that leveraged that power. I was right. My MPA-DP summer placement took me to Cambodia where I was an ICT Innovations Fellow for DAI. Working for a development consulting firm implementing a USAID project increased my exposure as to how technology solutions can be used for development challenges.

Two years later, I am a Project Manager for Echo Mobile, a Kenyan technology firm that builds and consults on the use of mobile tools (SMS, voice, Android and sensors). We help businesses, NGOs and international organizations to communicate with hard-to-reach markets and populations, enabling them to make better, data-driven decisions. I can imagine no better preparation for this job than my two years in the MPA-DP program.

[Photo courtesy of Boris Maguire]
[Photo courtesy of Boris Maguire]

I currently direct all of our consulting work, managing projects for clients that include the Kenyan Ministry of Education, a Rwandan integrated coffee company, The University of California, and multiple United Nations agencies. “Multi-sector” is right. For one UN client, I’m working with a dozen inclusive businesses all around the world to help them design impact measurement frameworks and use mobile data collection technology to align their business with the SDGs. With each of these companies, I am directly applying skills learned from the MPA-DP program: I am creating logical frameworks, theory of change maps, implementation plans and mobile survey forms, each of which was the focus of a different DP Lab during my first year. When new business opportunities arise for Echo Mobile and I need to write proposals, negotiate new contracts, or prepare project management plans and budgets, I apply skills and use resources directly from my Management for Development Professionals class, a second-year MPA-DP core course.

Yet, the most rewarding reminders of my time in the MPA-DP program come when I’m meeting with a client about how mobile technology can improve their work, or when I’m in the field training their staff on Echo’s technology. While I still get a rush from these experiences, they feel familiar now in a way they could not have two years ago. While at SIPA, the MPA-DP program enabled and empowered me to take on three distinct technology-for-development consulting projects, working for real clients in Mexico, Timor-Leste, and Cambodia on technology projects ranging across agribusiness, health and infrastructure. Each of those opportunities helped me learn the hard and soft skills required to assess whether certain types of technology could be integrated into a development project, business, or government process to enable social impact. They made me better at working with diverse stakeholders, ranging from bureaucrats to farmers, programmers, municipal workers, shopkeepers and whatever others were involved in making the right technology sustainable for the right context.

And best of all, my summer placement in Cambodia gave me the opportunity to travel to Myanmar, where I found the perfect stone to make a ring and propose to my then girlfriend, now wife. So, in just two short years, I landed my dream job AND my dream girl. At the risk of overstating things, I could not have done either without the MPA-DP program, and I’m forever grateful. #MDPLove

Thank you, for sharing your story Boris. As always, for more information on Summer Field Placements, Development Practice Lab, or alumni jobs please feel free to contact me

A peek at MPA-DP summer field placements, fall retreat

**Correction: It seems that our blogging platform has a mind of its own when it comes to homonyms (peek vs. peak) We apologize for this obvious mistake and hope you won’t hold it against WordPress (or us). 

As a second-year graduate student in the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice (MPA-DP) program, I have many long, grueling hours under my belt spent in the many nooks and crannies of Lehman Library. Luckily, I’ve had great classmates (and now best friends) to work by my side. Mariela Maccado, MPA-DP ’16, is one of my classmates and truly an intelligent and inspiring emerging development practitioner.

Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti

Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti

Prior to SIPA, Mariela was a telecommunications engineer with five years of work experience. Through the MPA-DP program, Mariela has combined her previous telecommunications-engineering education and experience with recent development studies. Mariela has accomplished a lot at SIPA, so I wanted to share with you a little bit about how the MPA-DP program has supported her efforts.

“I came [to SIPA] to learn how to design, deploy and make a project sustainable overtime, while at the same time addressing the social and economic needs,” Mariela says. She later applied that newfound knowledge to her three-month summer field placement at Inveneo in San Francisco, which is a nonprofit social enterprise that delivers the tools of technology—sustainable computing and broadband—to those who need it most in the developing world in order to transform lives through better education, healthcare, economic opportunities and faster relief.

There she worked alongside their engineering department, studying drones for Inveneo’s upcoming “Drones 4 Good” project, and researching Internet policies and laws in Cuba focusing on information and communication technologies (ICT) development and freedom of speech. “MPA-DP prepared me to understand development in a broader sense,” Mariela adds. “I could now understand sustainability taking into considerations all the different axis, from human centered design to M&E post implementation plan. Thus, I was able to give Inveneo a new perspective on how to design, implement and measure ICT4D projects.”

To learn about other summer placements from 2010-2015, please check out our Summer Field Placements Map.

All of the summer placements on the map were introduced to the incoming students at the MPA-DP annual fall retreat. Held every year within the first month of school, the fall retreat is open to both first and second-year students, and it takes place in upstate New York. Considering the MPA-DP program is “small by design,” the retreat is a key programmatic milestone in building up both the unique MPA-DP spirit and a strong cohort community at the beginning of the academic year.

More than 80 students attended the retreat this September (pictured above). It’s a great kick-off event to the fall semester and provides an opportunity for the students to learn about program offerings, as well as to get to know each other and chat informally with the program staff.

For more information on the summer placements this year, or about the annual MPA-DP retreat, please feel free to email sipa_mpadp@sipa.columbia.edu.

[Photo courtesy of Annum Hussain]

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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