Sean Mulkerne

MSc Global Politics, 2010
Intervention Manager, Growth and Employment in States 3 (GEMS3 DFID)

During my Master’s, I interned at the International Institute for Strategic Studies as a publications assistant. After leaving LSE, I started working in a variety of research jobs dealing with different issues and subject areas. For example, I was a co-author of a study on perceptions of the Afghan National Police in Kandahar Province for SCL Defence. I also worked as a researcher and project manager for CILT, the National Centre for Languages, writing a report on the demand for language skills among British employers. Later I worked as a researcher for EdComs, a communications consultancy working on educational issues, where I managed qualitative and quantitative research projects for a wide variety of clients.

In February 2013, I moved to Kaduna, Nigeria, to become an Intervention Manager for Growth and Employment in States 3, a DFID funded programme implemented by Adam Smith International. As Intervention Manager, I oversee development projects that deal with tax, land and investment issues in Kaduna State. These include systematic land titling and registration of parcels and the introduction of new tax collection mechanisms that aim to stem corruption and leakages. On a day to day basis, I am responsible for managing the work of technical consultants, overseeing work plans and budgets, liaising with private and public sector stakeholders, planning events and sensitisation campaigns, and reporting progress. I am also regularly involved in the monitoring and evaluation of our programmes, drawing on my background as a researcher.

In addition to the typical qualities required for professional life, doing this type of work in a place like northern Nigeria requires a great deal of patience and perseverance. Our work often aims to challenge entrenched interests, and instances of genuine progress can be fleeting, but the recognition we receive is often very rewarding. There are also very few expatriates of any kind in the north, necessitating more self-reliance for both entertainment and encouragement. Security challenges are also persistent, and as a result freedom of movement is limited, and working routines become more varied in order to stay safe. However, the work environment can be similar to typical experiences in the UK or elsewhere – my Nigerian co-workers are all hard working, incredibly friendly, and driven to see change.

The most valuable piece of advice I can give to anyone looking for any kind of job is to network – make friends, and build real connections, with people in your industry. It is useful to do voluntary work or internships, or jobs that are somewhat related to what you want to do, and build relationships with your co-workers. Eventually you make a friend, or meet a friend-of-a-friend, who can help you get where you want to be. LSE provides a spectacular opportunity to network like this. You are spending all of your time with likeminded, talented people, and are able to make strong friendships that aren’t just based on professional prospects. Moreover, there are a number of opportunities for work experience while at LSE. 

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Sean Mulkerne