Barbara Hughes - case study Barbara Hughes - case study

Degree: MA Rural Development
UEA School: DEV
Year graduated: 1986
Employer: USAID - Kenya  
Position: Director, Office of Population & Health


Please explain how your career has developed since graduating.

I did an MA Rural Development at UEA. Have worked almost continuously in international development--first in the US with NGOs with a focus on Africa and since 1993 overseas with USAID, in Asia and Africa, with a focus on public health.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role or your greatest career achievement so far?

Having the ability to fund activities and technical assistance that make a real difference to people's health and lives. On a personal level, living overseas is extremely rewarding.

What steps did you take in finding employment (in particular did you use the UEA careers centre, job websites, networking events)?

Since I'm American, all my networking was in the US. All of my jobs prior to joining USAID were as a result of networking with colleagues and friends.

What are the key skills you learnt at UEA?

I had a BA in Development Studies but it was very theoretical. Although I didn't have any work experience before going to UEA, the experience of professors and fellow students provided me with a much more practical knowledge of development.

How have these skills or your course made a difference in your career?

They helped me be better prepared for my early jobs with NGOs working in development, which led to my career with USAID.

Why did you choose to study at UEA rather than another institution?

I had a Rotary Fellowship to study overseas and when plans to study in a developing country fell through, I asked to do an MA course in the UK. UEA offered the most well-rounded curricula for my interest in agricultural development.

Do you have any tips or advice for current students or recent graduates?

Network, network, network. Ask everyone you know who they know. Do informational interviews if you can get them--find out what people in your field are looking for in a new hire.