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“Studying with the OU transformed my career.”

Houda Khayame

After spending two decades climbing the career ladder and travelling the world, building a wealth of experience in development management, Houda Khayame craved a new challenge and was inspired to develop a fresh perspective on her role.

Houda shares how gaining an MSc in Development Management with The Open University (OU) was key to progressing in her chosen field and ultimately led to her following a new and unexpected path.

Seeking a new challenge

With the job market constantly evolving, sharpening your skills to remain open to new opportunities is more important than ever – something Development Management graduate Houda knows well.

Having previously studied at business school, Houda carved a successful career as a Senior Manager of development projects supported by international aid organisations such as United Nations Agencies and other governmental donors. When she became the Deputy Director of a large project for women and child health in Jordan, she wanted to gain new perspectives on the complex developmental challenges she faced daily.

After some research, Houda was intrigued by the OU’s module material and its relevance to her career. She began her studies with the OU shortly after while continuing to work in Jordan’s capital city, Amman.

Applying learning at work

It wasn’t long before Houda found opportunities to apply the skills she was gaining from her OU studies to real-world work scenarios.

Houda said, “I found all the modules useful in my work. They helped me better understand and deal with issues of power dynamics, mediation, institutions, structural violence, social justice, and other ‘wicked’ problems quite topical in my area of practice.

“I appreciated the value of tutor-marked assignments and exams in developing my critical thinking and honing my academic writing skills. In my experience, studying towards the MSc was about learning new things, reflecting critically, and communicating my reflections cogently. Using these skills at work improved my performance when managing projects, which my colleagues and supervisors recognised.

“My qualification has made a great difference to my career. I developed the skills needed to design and implement rigorous research, which is always in high demand, as I needed to design, monitor, and evaluate development projects.”

Pursuing a new passion

After completing her studies in 2018, a year later, once her project in Jordan came to a close, Houda found herself at a crossroads. She had a decision to make – she could continue to carve out a career path in development management by taking on the leadership of another project in a new destination or pursue her newfound love of academia by applying for a PhD with the OU.

“I chose the latter and came to the UK in July 2019 with only two suitcases but a large container of enthusiasm!” she says. “My PhD proposal was accepted, and I am now doing a PhD with the OU on systemic governance of social-environmental issues in the Anthropocene. I have also since become an Associate Lecturer.”

As Houda studies her PhD, she’s eager to share what she has learned along the way.

She concludes: “Studying and getting to know your module material might feel challenging, but it’s important to remember that you can reach out to your tutor for guidance. Also, as students, we may see assignments and exams as only ‘endpoints’ to gain marks and pass a module. It might be helpful to see them as great opportunities to practise thinking critically, organising ideas, and communicating efficiently.

“Each qualification I have taken with the OU has increased what I know, transformed how I think, improved what I do in both work and life, and ultimately triggered a profound change in my life trajectory!”

Find out more about postgraduate study at The Open University.

Disclaimer: Development Management has since been discontinued and replaced by Postgraduate Diploma in Global Development (E86). Check out our full range of distance and online courses.

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