On-Award

Reflections from a completing scholar: Ahmed Hassan, Maldives

Ahmed Hassan, Australia Awards scholar, University of Sydney

With the first semester of 2018 about to draw to a close, many Australia Awards scholars are just a few weeks away from completing their studies and returning home. Ahmed Hassan, from the Maldives, is one of them—he will soon complete his Master of Project Management from the University of Sydney. Taking some time out from working on his last assignments, Ahmed reflected on his Scholarship experience.

With his final assignment due in just a few days, Ahmed said, ‘I feel a great sense of accomplishment being so close to finishing my studies. The experience of studying overseas as part of an Australia Awards Scholarship has been extremely rewarding, and I feel honoured to have been given the chance to study at one of the top universities in Australia.’ Now that most of his assignments have been completed, he and his wife have begun preparing to return to the Maldives.

As part of his course, Ahmed was able to meet a lot of international experts in the field of project management. Several of his courses were taught by well-known practitioners, and this meant that Ahmed was able to grow his network of industry contacts.

‘One of my courses was guest-facilitated by Dr Edward Hoffman, NASA’s Chief Knowledge Officer,’ he said. Dr Hoffman has managed several very high profile projects for NASA and is tasked with developing the agency’s capabilities in program and project management and engineering. ‘Dr Hoffman was new to the campus, and I was lucky enough to spend valuable time with him outside of lectures by showing him around the campus with a few of my colleagues. I took this opportunity to speak with him about my background and gather ideas about how project management principles might be applied to my development plans in the Maldives.’

Another fruitful experience for Ahmed was an assignment that required him to prepare and deliver a presentation for a panel of experts. The panel consisted of CEOs, board members and representatives of several leading companies in the project management sector, including banks and infrastructure companies. The presentation showcased Ahmed’s work and led to the panel providing feedback and support. ‘This was one of the most useful parts of my entire master’s degree,’ said Ahmed. ‘After the presentation, I was able to spend some time with the panel talking about my aspirations, and add another group of practitioners to my network.’

Ahmed has seized every possible opportunity to make industry contacts. He recognises the importance of this, saying that he plans to keep these networks active once he returns. ‘I make sure I get business cards and contact details from everyone I meet, and I follow up by either connecting with them on LinkedIn or sending them an email to thank them for their time.’ He has already been invited by one of his new contacts to meet to discuss his future plans before he returns to the Maldives.

Ahmed also plans to make good use of the Australia Global Alumni platform upon his return, after being introduced to it at the Australia Awards Return Home Workshop he attended. He has already explored the platform and looks forward to using it to connect with other like-minded individuals to discuss project management principles and how they can be applied in different circumstances all around the world.

Ahmed has kept in touch with his colleagues from the Maldives while on his Scholarship, discussing with them his ideas for change. ‘My approach at first will be to focus on small changes that can be made that will make the most difference. My work supervisor is keen for me to return and start putting my new knowledge and insight into practice.’ Ahmed hopes to start making changes in his close circle of colleagues first before expanding his sphere of influence to see where project management techniques can make a bigger impact.

Reflecting on the place he’s called home for the past two years, Ahmed said, ‘I will miss everything about Australia, but it will be the people I miss most. Australia is made up of such a rich combination of cultures, and I have enjoyed talking both with Australians and with people from other countries.’ Ahmed has made the most of his time here, taking well-deserved breaks between studying to visit beaches and go on hikes, see Adele and Ed Sheeran in concert, and follow his love of cricket around the country. One of his favourite memories is of visiting the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackway in outback Queensland, considered to be the site of the world’s only known record of a dinosaur stampede.

Ahmed’s experience during his Scholarship is a great example of the importance of building networks and thinking about how the knowledge and skills gained through study relate to real life challenges and how they can be applied upon returning home. We wish Ahmed every success in his return to the Maldives and with his future endeavours.

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