Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani
1. What led you to study public policy at CEU?
As part of the Erasmus Mundus program in public policy, I had to choose between CEU and the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) in Barcelona. I chose CEU because of the courses and specializations it offered and the quality of its faculty and curriculum. Budapest itself was an attraction due to its rich culture and history.
2. What do you remember most about your time at CEU?
The library. The warmth of faces representing so many countries, coupled with a shared dedication to preparing for classes and exams – all led to a cozy family-like atmosphere in the library. The library was also well-equipped and the architecture is impeccable.
3. What have you been engaged in professionally since graduating from CEU?
My field is strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of development projects. I have worked and lived on two continents since graduating from CEU. I left Budapest for South Africa, where I worked with an international NGO working on civil society issues across the world. From there, I joined the United Nations in South Sudan during the time when the referendum and partition took place and a new country was born. Currently I'm working at UNICEF headquarters in New York, where I am responsible for strategic planning, field support, and knowledge management as part of the division that mobilizes 75 percent of the financial resources for UNICEF programs worldwide.
4. How have your policy studies at CEU contributed to your career?
Policy studies at CEU are multi-disciplinary, global in approach, and based on the values of open society. They also provide clear links between research and practice. These two factors were sufficient for contributing to my career success in the development sector.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am a mid-level international professional in the United Nations system. In five years, I see myself in a senior-level managerial position, where I am managing a bigger team for development projects focused on the most marginalized populations of the developing world.
6. Do you have any advice for current students?
Look at your studies from a practical viewpoint. While studying theory, always be conscious of how you'd make use of it when faced with a practical issue/reality. Always challenge your professors, challenge the obvious, and be innovative and entrepreneurial in thinking inside and outside the box!
7. What is your favorite thing to do in Budapest?
Strolling along the Danube – watching the reflection of lights from the Chain Bridge and the Parliament building in the water. It is quite calming.