Combining theory and practice to further a career in international development
Stephanie Ifayemi (MPP 2018) is the second recipient of the Blavatnik School’s Duke of Cambridge Scholarship, which is awarded each year to a future British leader with outstanding potential. The funding she received made it possible for her to take up her place on the MPP.
“I was overjoyed to receive the scholarship. At a critical political-economic period for the UK and the global sustainable development agenda, it’s a privilege to be able to undertake the MPP as a Duke of Cambridge scholar.”
She joins the course with a background in the international sphere. Her work in this area began with an internship at a human rights law firm in Haiti, working on cases of sexual violence and internal displacement following the nation’s earthquake. She went on to study politics and international relations at The University of Warwick, gaining experience in commercial and corporate law (including private equity, capital markets, and tax) through further internships and policy research with a think tank in Arusha, Tanzania. Before joining the MPP, she was working with the German foreign office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, advising the African Union Commission on the implementation of a higher education project based in the five sub-regions of sub-Saharan Africa.
With a diverse professional and academic background, Stephanie sought a course that would merge theory and practice, allowing her to build upon the theoretical foundation from her undergraduate degree, and the practical experience derived from her career so far.
“The Blavatnik School’s curriculum bridges academic rigour with practical application – ensuring that everything you learn is applied technically and situated within different global contexts. This inter-disciplinary focus is substantiated by the cohort’s global diversity – which is truly a highlight.”
Stephanie has particularly enjoyed the applied policy modules, which this year cover topics including negotiation, statistics, and public budgeting, and she has chosen modules that will allow her to fill the gaps she had identified in her skillset prior to joining the course.
“The MPP provides a holistic view on how to best translate policy into implementable action from the initial stages of project design. The skills we’ve acquired extend from quantitative finance and budgeting aspects, negotiations and coalition building, to areas including big data and cyber security which are increasingly critical for policy success.”
The summer project is another aspect of the MPP designed to aid professional development, and Stephanie looks forward to reflecting on both her work so far and her future plans.
“The summer project allows you to gauge your next career steps. With the flexibility to choose an institution and policy area of interest, it is perfectly suited to all career stages. Whether you intend to return to your previous role, plan to transition career paths, or have come directly from academic study, it provides an avenue to consider your long-term career goals in a familiar or new context.”
As a Duke of Cambridge scholar, Stephanie has been able to make the most of being at the University of Oxford by applying for further funding through her college, University College. “I’m currently learning Mandarin and attended the 2019 Global Solutions Summit, a pre-G20 meeting in Berlin, Germany with my college’s support.”
Besides the MPP, Stephanie has also been keen to learn from the global expertise within the Blavatnik School and its research hubs.
“I’m currently a part-time research assistant at the Government Outcomes Lab, working on outcomes-based instruments in low- and middle-income countries. Receiving the Duke of Cambridge scholarship provides an array of opportunities within Oxford and beyond, which would otherwise have been out of reach.”