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The experience

Overview

Graduate profile: Elena Robertson – Program Specialist (Research, Policy and Practice), Edge Effect

Elena Robertson

Originally from the US, Elena Robertson knew she wanted to work in international development from the age of 16. By the end of her undergraduate degree, she’d undertaken field research in India, Thailand and Ghana – but after working in the international development sector for about three years in Vietnam and Cambodia, Elena decided to pursue a masters degree to deepen her theoretical knowledge and expand her professional network.

“I knew I wanted to pursue work in Southeast Asia,” she says, “and given the proximity of Australia to Southeast Asia as well as the many Southeast Asia experts at the University of Melbourne” decided to apply.

Prior to studying at Melbourne, Elena says she had little theoretical training in feminist and gender studies, but that her “passion for feminism and gender equitable development programming blossomed during [her] studies”.

“The most enjoyable aspects of the program were the professors, the coursework, and conducting field research for my minor thesis in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia,” Elena says. “In Cambodia I had the chance to meet with incredible feminists and gender equality activists and to hear about their experiences in the sector and as women in Cambodia, some of whom had experienced the Khmer Rouge.”

Now working for Edge Effect, a Melbourne-based company which “assists humanitarian and development organisations to work in genuine partnerships with people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics”, Elena says the “theoretical knowledge, research skills, and critical thinking skills” she gained during her studies have been very useful.

“The work we do at Edge Effect is ground-breaking. The expertise of my colleagues means we are well-connected across the development and humanitarian sectors, and I am proud to be part of such an exemplary team who are committed to changing the sector for the better.”

Master of Development Studies Advisory Board

Joanne Crawford

Joanne Crawford

Joanne has over 35 years’ experience across government, civil society, universities and consulting for organisations such as the Australian Government’s Office for the Status of Women and the Australian Agency for International Development. Her working life has centred on progressing positive change through research, public policy, collaboration and activism. She has a Master in Public Policy and Management (Melbourne), a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Studies (ANU), and an Honours Degree in Economics (Monash).

Beth Eggleston

Beth Eggleston

Beth is passionate about approaching humanitarian action differently. After surviving the bureaucracy of large international NGOs and the United Nations, she co-founded Humanitarian Advisory Group in 2012, a social enterprise that aims to harness humanitarian passion with entrepreneurial energy and innovation. Beth has a Master of Development Studies and was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal by the Australian government in 2011.

David Hulme

David Hulme

David is Professor of Development Studies at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester and CEO of the Effective States Research and Inclusive Development / ESID Research Centre and the FutureDAMS Research Consortium. David has researched and provided policy advice on rural development, poverty-reduction, social protection, governance, and global development for 35 years. His field research has focused on South Asia, and particularly Bangladesh, and he has also worked in Papua New Guinea and East Africa.

Layton Pike

Layton Pike

Layton is Chief Global Adviser for RMIT University and a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). He was previously Minister and Deputy Head of Mission for the Australian Embassy Vietnam from 2014 to 2017 and Minister-Counsellor, Australian Embassy in the Philippines, where he led Australia’s development program from 2013 to 2014.

Jo Podlesak

Jo Podlesak

Jo is a humanitarian and development sector leader currently working for Oxfam Australia. She is continually excited by the evolution of the sector. Jo’s 25 years of work across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East have honed her skills in adaptive management in volatile contexts and complex emergencies, systems thinking to drive change, and promoting locally-led solutions.

Peter Walton

Peter Walton

Peter is the Chief Executive Officer of CARE Australia. He has over 28 years of international experience seeking better outcomes in both international development and humanitarian activities. During his career he has undertaken assignments in over 50 countries and held a number of senior roles in the humanitarian and development sectors including International Director with Save the Children Australia and Australian Red Cross, and Chief Executive of Infoxchange.