Manuel Herrera, IBEI Alumni 2017-18
1. Why did you choose the IBEI Master’s?
At the end of my graduate studies, and after having had a positive professional experience in the field of public security, I knew that I wanted to continue my studies and maximize my knowledge of security affairs. After consulting with several professors with whom I had a close relationship, they recommended IBEI as a solvent institution, as well as its Master's programme in International Security. After reviewing the evaluations of the AQU (Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya) with respect to the centre and verifying that they were all favourable, I decided to apply for the Master.
2. What is your experience at IBEI?
My experience at IBEI can only be described as extremely positive. Both at the level of studies/knowledge and at the level of human relations, my feeling is one of general satisfaction. Not only does IBEI have a staff of great teachers with recognized national and international prestige, but they are also empathetic and professional enough to accompany and help the student throughout the entire intellectual formation process. Likewise, at the student level, I have met some really extraordinary people and I have kept many friends from my time at the centre.
3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI
I recently discussed this issue with my former teachers and the truth is that since I finished my studies at IBEI I have never been unemployed. This may be a somewhat simplistic assessment, but it is still relevant and significant. On the other hand, my professional activity to date has been linked to security studies, which to a certain extent shows the usefulness of the master's degree.
4. What is your professional experience (your current position, your main functions)?
My current position is an intelligence analyst at Accenture Portugal. Due to a confidentiality clause I cannot explain in great detail my activities. The only thing I can say is that I am dedicated to the evaluation of data using analytical and statistical tools in order to discover useful information and facilitate business decision making, particularly concerning the French-speaking cultural area, through softwares specialized in the acquisition of information from open sources.
5. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?
With regard to intelligence issues the master's degree did not prepare me in any way since I did not decide to take the intelligence course. Now, it is true that the master's degree has helped me to acquired significant analytical skills (both qualitative and quantitative), developed conceptual and integrative thinking, and the ability to think outside the box. As well, to acquired managerial abilities that go from designing and organising seminars, to networking and establish contacts with other advisors, policy makers, and institutions; skills highly valued and useful in my current position. Therefore, you must have a holistic view of the knowledge and skills that the master can give you. It's not just a question of learning a subject by heart, it's a question of learning to reason and use knowledge strategically to achieve pre-established objectives.
6. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?
No, in fact I didn't expect to end up where I am, since I specialized in issues of weapons of mass destruction and non-proliferation (an area in which I continue to work through my doctorate and various collaborations). This shows one the twists and turns of life and the degree of uncertainty in human relations.
7. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?
As Alexander Suvorov said, "hard training, sure success." Developing a career in the field of international security is difficult, complicated and sometimes hopeless. I can say that I have found myself lost in the vastness of human existence. However, this is not a reason to get discouraged or give up, but quite the opposite, because as the Spanish saying goes, he who follows it, achieves it. Whoever provides the necessary means and does not give up, achieves the end he is pursuing. Therefore, my main advice would be to maintain persistence in the achievement of your objectives.
8. What do you miss most about IBEI?
The people. The great human capital that such an institution possesses. Never before had I had such an intense human experience (in intellectual terms) than with the people I met at IBEI. I think I can even say that this experience has not been repeated. That is something I miss.