Laura Camila G.
|Laura Camila G.|
|Politics, Economics and Philosophy|
|Philosophy, Politics and Economics (with a placement year)|
|HMG Business Development Coordinator|
|Finance and consultancy|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
Like this profile?
Add this profile to your favourites so you can return to it later from your account.
A day in the life of a HMG Business Development Coordinator in the United Kingdom
After doing my placement year, I had a greater clarity on what I wanted to do and what really moved me inside the development sector.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
DAI is an international development consultancy firm that tackles fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability. It works in more than 150 countries, implementing programmes in climate, economic growth, digital acceleration, education, peace building and stability, global health and development finance for a wide range of clients, including national and local governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, private corporations, and philanthropies.
What do you do?
I am a proposal coordinator of large, complex international development projectsacross a range of technical areas, including economic growth, climate finance, conflict and stabilisation, and biodiversity and climate. Donors include FCDO, Proparco, DEFRA and SDC. I also support the Development Finance and Investment (DevFin) team in the coordination and managements of proposals across a range of technical areas. Established in early 2021, DevFin supports the mobilisation of private capital into low- and middle-income countries and seeks to stimulate alternative means of financing development work. I am also the project manager of an Innovation and Investment Fund in Morocco.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I studied PPE at York moved by an idealistic goal, after many years of Models of United Nations at school: working at the United Nations as a diplomat and changing the world. However, in practice, I realised there are other many other (more tangible) ways to approach international development. That the private sector does amazing work to ensure development is delivered to where it is needed, and that it speaks to the political and economic intricacies of the delivery context. In my third year of university, excited by the prospect of doing a placement year to verify if my change in heart was correct, I reached out to Charlie K, the careers advisor for the politics department, who pointed me in the direction of DAI. After an initial rejection, a second interview at 2:00 am, and job offer, I worked as an intern for the company between 2019-2020... and had an amazing time! I conducted political economy analyses for projects in Latin America, I wrote technical proposals in English, Spanish and French, I had the opportunity of engaging with amazing leaders in the international development arena, including leading companies in the space, and increased my knowledge of what development really looks like on the ground. Inspired by this, my fourth year dissertation explored the question "What role have crop substitution programmes played in attempting to create economic development in conflict-affected regions? Using as a case study the implementation of the Government of Colombia’s PNIS and USAID’s Cacao for Peace in Tumaco, Nariño (Colombia), the latter implemented by DAI. Upon graduation, I was offered a job at an international development charity, working mainly on strategy development and team building for other development organisations. I realised this was not my place. I missed research, I missed the considerations of the political economy, I missed understanding the difficulties of navigating the donor environment. I missed the international development practice. A positioned opened at DAI and, after a selection process, I was offered the job! I now have the opportunity of not only supporting proposal development across a range of technical areas, but I have also been able to focus specifically on the mobilisation of private sector capital for development objectives, which is one of the areas I am most interested in, together with the illicit economy. I am also the project manager for an investment and innovation fund in Morocco. It feels like I am learning and growing every single day, and I am excited to go to work! My company was generous and trusting enough to sponsor my Skilled Worker Visa, which was also an important consideration when choosing between jobs.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Not really! After doing my placement year, I had a greater clarity on what I wanted to do and what really moved me inside the development sector. I knew that private sector-led development is what I wanted to focus on, and that is what I am doing now!
Describe your most memorable day at work
Very cheesily, I feel every day is a memorable day at work! I have amazing friends at the office, and I get to learn about incredible projects being implemented across the globe on a daily basis, as well as feeding my curiosity by attending events on China's economic development, the development of Latin America, etc. However, if I had to choose a day since I re-joined DAI in September, I would say submitting my first proposal since being back on the 5th of November 2021. I was given full responsibility of the proposal: recruiting experts, writing sections, compiling the relevant documentation in French, etc. It felt like such a great accomplishment to have been able to get back into the swing of things, and submit a strong proposal, being supported by an amazing team, after such a short time after joining.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
Amazing! Simply amazing. The work is stressful, and sometimes leaving the office late at night is not unusual. However, having a team of individuals who are driven by excellence, who are as passionate as you are by the work that you do, who put in the hard work, you seek to really support you and help you achieve your greatest potential, makes it all worth it. Despite the stressful environment of pressing deadlines, we have a lot of fun! At Christmas we have a gingerbread house decoration competition (and with my team, we baked the houses of parliament in gingerbread from scratch), we have cake Fridays, pizzas at the office, food vans coming (yes, a lot of food-associated activities), sleep outs, and more. There truly is a feeling of community in the office. Since the pandemic began, we have adopted a hybrid model of work, and thus people only need to come in 5 days a month. If you wish to come in more, like I do (I'm in the office pretty much every day), you are free to do so! It is very flexible, in that sense, which I adore. The office is located in Apsley, a 30 minute train to London Euston, so it is very easy to commute to. I live in Apsley myself, about a 20 minute walk away from the office, and the morning and evening walks to and from work, always put me in the right mindset.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
Quite a few, but I wish I would have taken even more! I was the Secretary and the Vice-President of the Latin American Society in my Second and Fourth years of university, respectively. Here, I not only found my home away from home, but I also learned everything about event planning, communications, social media and engagement. I was also a mentor for PPE students and an international student ambassador, which really developed my leadership, listening and presentation skills. I tutored two siblings in Spanish, which really helped me develop my communication and mentoring skills. And, of course, my placement year! Which was one of the best decisions I could have ever made.
What would you like to do next with your career?
I am doing my MSc Development Economics (part-time whilst I work) in September 2022! I am seeking to focus even more my technical knowledge, exploring the economy of armed conflict and how to implement programmes that foster economic growth. After that, I want to do a PhD in the same area! With this, I want to become a technical consultant to the programmes implemented by international development companies (like DAI) and also explore a career in academia. Life is only beginning!
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Start early and don't give up! Look for a job early in your final year. Even if you don't get the positions due to conflicting start dates, you will start building a valuable network of contacts, who can later support you when you are available for work. You will received many rejections, but also, many positive responses. The right job is really waiting for you! You just need to be patient and put in the work. Also, all the activities you have engaged with are extremely valuable, even those you just did for fun! There are amazing transposable skills to be learned from your trajectory.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Everything and anything! I know the feeling of having your head flooded with a million and one questions after graduation, and the huge relief it is to have someone to talk to about it. I am here to help as you need!
If you like the look of Laura Camila’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Laura Camila a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Laura Camila to be your mentor.