Sergio Rejado Albaina '14 (Spain)
Life follows unexpected paths. Often unexpected ones. And it seems that being a MESPOM alumnus is the perfect recipe for the systematic enjoyment of pleasant surprises and encounters. During the last two months, I have met three fellow MESPOM alumni in Mexico, Israel, and Germany. And they are indeed not the only ones that I have re-encountered since graduating. This actually happens with a surprising frequency.
I graduated from the 2012-2014 MESPOM batch and, ever since, my professional life has been led towards unexpected outcomes. After spending some time consulting, I ended up working as a seconded expert in the UNESCO Mozambique office for two years, managing the environmental sciences portfolio of UNESCO in the country and leading the nomination process of the country’s first Biosphere Reserve in the Quirimbas National Park (which was officially designated in July 2017). After this secondment was over, I have transitioned to my current work for CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council) fostering international cooperation for the protection of Arctic migratory birds along the Africa-Eurasia flyway. Concurrently, I also consult on other projects.
It was during the MESPOM experience where I gained the knowledge and skills that have allowed me to perform these role - but gaining a strong academic background is just one of the assets of this programme. Two other aspects really set MESPOM apart from other Master’s degrees. The first aspect was the experience of studying in (at least) three different countries, all with different cultures, experiences, and people that enter your life over the two years. The second was the strong ties within the alumni network that hosts you forever after.
I think that the alumni network is one of the strongest assets which now effects my life. I have met my fellow cohort colleagues at multiple reprises, but also mates from other batches. For instance, I met multiple alumni at UNFCCC’s COP21 in Paris. And more recently, it was this network that led me to one of the best experiences I have enjoyed this year: the Global Sustainability Fellowship (GSF). After two different persons shared it in our alumni Facebook page, I decided to apply. I therefore travelled to Israel, where I met fellow alumna Lindsey Zemler, one of the organizers. I spent three weeks in Israel participating in a program focusing on bringing together young professionals and students from all over the world to discuss sustainability and learn in local contexts, based on witnessing first-hand different real-life approaches to sustainable development.
The GSF program focuses on systems dynamics and systems thinking, which is a great match for the MESPOM program. During MESPOM we had a course on systems modelling, which felt a little too brief for me. However, my recent professional experiences have led me to really appreciate deepening towards this particular approach, and the new insight on this matter that I have obtained will doubtlessly be precious in my professional life. I am sure more alumni will join this course in the future.
I wonder what my next MESPOM encounter will lead to.