Piet Vochten, a Belgian national and expert in livelihoods development, worked with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Pakistan from 2008 to 2010. He holds Masters degrees in Agronomy and Development Studies from the University of Gent, Belgium.

He has over 20 years of international development experience in Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan) and Africa (Eritrea and Mali) with NGOs and UN agencies. He started his USQ Australia Dual Masters program with MDi in 2008.

This is what he had to say about his experience:

Soon after I started work in Pakistan, I decided to use the spare time I had to take on studying again. Talking to colleagues and searching the internet, I opted for an MBA, realizing the development industry I worked in for over 20 years could learn from the business world. While there are a large variety of MBA courses on offer in Islamabad, I needed something with both international recognition and flexibility. I found the perfect solution with Management Development Institute (MDi) in Islamabad. They offered an MBA degree with the option to attend evening classes, while the degree would be issued by an Australian University – the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

One year into the studies, the deal became even more appealing when MDi started offering the dual degree MBA and Master of Project Management (MPM). Since project management was directly relevant to my daily work, I opted to initially focus on the MPM.

I found that studying with USQ through MDi gave me a lot of flexibility and allowed me to adjust the time dedicated to studying to the demand on my time by my work. Many of the things I learned were of direct use e.g. managing a multi-million dollar development project. I was even able to use aspects of the project I worked on as the topic studied for some of the assignments in the Project Management courses.

Through the U-Connect internet platform, I was able to seek input from USQ staff and other students across the world. This was in addition to the classes I attended with MDi, where I had direct discussions with academic staff and fellow students. Indirectly, MDi turned out to also be an entry point into the social circles of Islamabad.

I have now graduated with the Master of Management degree but I have decided to continue my studies with MDi to articulate to the MBA as well via the Dual Masters program.

Note: Piet was relocated to Rome (UNFAO HQ) and was allowed by USQ to complete his Dual Masters as an MDi-enrolled student posted out of Pakistan. He was subsequently posted to a senior UN management position in Nepal.