Alumni profile: Marianne Melle (Woolf, 2011)

Marianne Melle, who graduated with a Master of Arts in International Political Economy from Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) in 2013, currently works as an International Recruitment Officer for the humanitarian organisation Danish Refugee Council.

What does your current role as International Recruitment Officer for the Danish Refugee Council entail?
It is a very interesting job where I take care of the whole recruitment procedure for the Stand-by Roster, which deploys experts to United Nation (UN) humanitarian relief operations to help people in need. My role involves sourcing, longlisting, shortlisting, interviewing, and selecting new members. These new members are experts who are then sent out on various UN missions for mainly UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, IOM, FAO, UNOCHA and WFP. The areas they go to are in difficult surroundings like war-torn places, such as Iraq and Syria to aid refugees, or areas suffering natural catastrophes.

How did you begin working for them?
I have always had deep respect for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and when I saw that they advertised for recruiters, I had to apply. I was invited for an interview, passed it by Skype, and later on I was offered the job. I then relocated to Copenhagen to take on the mission. Before this, I lived for five years in Brussels working for the European organisation the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Did you know what you wanted to do, career wise, when you left Kent?
Yes, I have always been interested in working for international organisations and especially the humanitarian sphere.

Professionally, what has been the most challenging aspect you have faced since leaving Kent?
I think the most challenging, and most rewarding, has been the experience of working in different countries with different cultures. From working for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) in Guinea to working in Brussels for the European Free Trade Association to Copenhagen working for the Danish Refugee Council, these have been rewarding jobs that have taught me a lot about working in different cultures, and made me more open and flexible in my approach.

What advantages do you feel you gained by studying at BSIS?
I learned about the European Union, international affairs, about international law and economics. I enjoyed learning from very competent professors who were highly motivated in teaching, as this motivation quickly inspired us students. It made it fun to study and I really enjoyed learning.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Accomplishing an evaluation for Doctors without Borders on a mission in West Africa’s Guinea. In a very different environment, on my own, all in French which is not my mother tongue.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t assume anything. When working in cultures other than your own; there may be other types of behaviour, other ways of working, so don’t assume, but be open to learn and understand the differences.

What are your future aspirations?
I will have an exciting job with an international organisation in an exciting part of the world, and I will bring my family with me.

What are your favourite memories of Kent?
Listening to Professor Albena Azmanova and her very inspiring lectures on philosophy. If you get the chance, go see her lectures, believe me, you are in for a treat! Moreover, I enjoyed meeting my fellow part-time students, interesting people from various parts of the world who are working in many interesting organisations in Brussels. I made friends not only from Europe, but also from countries further afield and was happy to learn a lot from them and their experiences.

Would you recommend BSIS to future students? If so, why?
Yes! It is a great place to study as the professors are knowledgeable, they have long experience in their field, they share and they are motivated, and they manage to spread this motivation over to their students. It was tough to work full-time and to take the Master in International Political Economy at the same time as a part-time student for over two years. But the motivation I got from the professors made me enjoy going to my classes and to look forward to opening my mind to new thoughts and ideas.

If you hadn’t been to Kent, how would your life be different now?
I would not have gained the knowledge and overview I have of international organisations, how they operate, the international law they are governed by and how international economics works together with politics. It was also a very interesting time to study political economy, as of course much of the focus was on the economic crisis in 2010, the first crisis, the second crisis; how it came about, what caused it, and the way out of it for Europe.

Who or what inspires you?
People that are positive, that are able to use humour in times of difficulty, and people who are passionate about what they do.