Diego Fernandez Fernandez, IBEI Alumni 2013-14
Name and Last Name: Diego Fernandez Fernandez
Master studied at IBEI: Master's in International Relations
Current working company, position and city: Senior Analyst at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, London (United Kingdom)
1. Why did you choose the IBEI Master’s in International Relations?
I chose IBEI Master’s in International Relations because I was passionate about learning about international relations between countries. I had no previous background in politics as I had done a BA in Journalism prior to starting at IBEI. However, I have always been very interested in politics and, during the two years that I spent living abroad during my BA studies, I became hugely interested in having an international career. IBEI seemed a natural choice for me if I wanted to be in an international study environment in Spain. Other factors that encouraged me to apply for the programme at IBEI were the great faculty as well as the fact that the programme was mostly taught in English.
2. What is your experience at IBEI?
It was one of the most exciting and demanding years in my life as a student. I really got to learn so much about a variety of topics that I had never studied before such as theories of international relations, international security, terrorism, political economy of development, etc. What I like the most about IBEI’s programme is its interdisciplinary nature.
3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI
During my time at IBEI, I really enjoyed the courses in statistics and policy analysis, as well as in international development. For that reason, I decided that I wanted to carry on studying and building upon what I had learnt during my year at IBEI and I applied for the La Caixa scholarship programme for Spanish students to do postgraduate studies abroad. I was lucky to be awarded one of the prestigious scholarships and I chose the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, which I had heard of during my time at IBEI as it is one of the partner schools where you can go on an exchange. At Hertie, I did the two-year Masters of Public Policy, Policy Analysis track. The summer in between the two academic years I did an internship in Costa Rica with the German Development Agency (GIZ). After that, during my last year of studies, I also worked as a Research Associate to The Governance Report, an annual research publication that addresses governance challenges from a multidisciplinary approach. I was part of its Indicators Team, which develops sets of governance indicators for each edition of the Report. Thanks to the first-hand experience in building composite indices, I got a job at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, a London-based think tank focused on the importance of data for governance in African countries.
4. What is your professional experience (your current position, your main functions)?
In January 2017, I joined the Research Team of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation as an Analyst. Since January 2019, I am the Senior Analyst in the team. My tasks mostly involve contributing towards the successful production, delivery and dissemination of two of the main initiatives of the Foundation: The Ibrahim Forum Report and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). The latter is particularly exciting as it is the leading governance composite index in the context of Africa.
5. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?
The Master’s at IBEI gave me a broad perspective about the different topic clusters in the realm of international relations, taught me a great deal about how to be more analytical, and gave me the confidence that I needed to work in an international environment.
6. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?
Totally yes! My dream was to get a research job in the field of international development, and have the chance to draw on data heavily and contribute to the broader conversation about how to better measure the progress of countries towards the Sustainable Development Goals. That, and being required to travel for work every now and then, which is also the case at the moment.
7. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?
My main advice to current/future IBEI students is to learn as much as possible about the different courses that the Master’s at IBEI offers. However, I think that it is also important a certain degree of specialisation (a few topics that are interrelated, a region, a set of skills/tools). Pick your specialisation and work on developing it because it is what will make you stand out.
8. What do you miss most about IBEI?
I miss some of the professors (in particular, Andrea Bianculli, Diego Muro and Fulya Apaydin). I also definitely miss Barcelona and the sea!