Peter H.

Governance Adviser
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Peter H.
English and Related Literature
English with Philosophy
Taught Postgraduate
United Kingdom

My employment

Governance Adviser
Department for International Development
United Kingdom
Government and civil service
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a Governance Adviser in the United Kingdom

Adviser at the Department for International Development

What I do

I'm the Regional Governance Adviser in the Foreign Office/DFID North Africa Joint Unit, covering governance policy and development programmes across Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Knowledge of governance
Knowledge of international development and wider international relations / foreign policy
Ability to quickly assimilate large volumes of often quite complex information
Multi-tasking and ability to prioritise

What I like most

Highly stimulating work, working with very bright, motivated colleagues on issues which have a real impact on people's day-to-day lives. International travel.

What I like least

Of course, there are elements of the job that can seem overly bureaucratic.

How I looked for work

I initially joined DFID through the Direct Entry Scheme for Advisers (DESA). DFID runs the DESA scheme on an annual basis. Vacancies are posted on the Civil Service Jobs website.

How I found out about the job

Government job website

The recruitment process

Lengthy application form with technical competencies and general Civil Service ones. Assessment centre consisting of technical written exercise, group exercise, formal interview and presentation.

My career history

After graduation from my undergrad at York in 2010, I went straight on to a Master's at York (MA in PPE - Politics and Development). I then went on to work after graduation for a small risk consultancy firm, initially as an intern then an employee. After this, I went on the DFID VSO/ICS scheme to Ethiopia before joining an international development consultancy firm in their governance team.

I joined DFID in April 2016 as a Governance Adviser on the Direct Entry Scheme for Advisers (DESA). I finished the scheme in 2018 after an 18 month posting to Pakistan.

What has helped my career to progress

Being prepared to take every opportunity that comes along. Saying yes to things even if they don't appear to be the most direct route to your eventual goal.

Courses taken since graduation

Various short courses through my current and previous job.

How my studies have helped my career

Written skills and ability to be able to assess different sources - very important. Having a large amount of material and knowing what to prioritise. Masters important in and of itself for getting into development sector but the knowledge was also beneficial.

My advice to students considering work

As noted above, be open minded about opportunities that don't look like the most direct route to where you want to get to.

My advice about working in my industry

Development is one of the toughest sectors to break into. You need to be realistic about this - you need luck but you can stack the odds in your favour through accumulating contacts and experience.

I definitely advise a Masters, ideally in a specific development field (e.g. infrastructure, humanitarian, development economics, conflict). Then it's about 'reverse engineering' - working out where you want to get to and the possible career path to find those skills. Don't be afraid to take a roundabout route to get where you want. Plenty of people working in development (most, even) haven't always worked there. Skills from other fields e.g. from the private sector are highly regarded.

Contacting me

Feel free to drop me a line for any advice about working in the development sector or international affairs, or DFID in particular.

Next steps...

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