My education in economics provided me in depth understanding of the factors driving the economic growth, public debt, and the effective use of public financing.
Greetings from Cairo! My name is Umit and I graduated from the Economics Department with an MA degree in 2001. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the faculty for providing an amazing learning environment and top quality education. Particularly, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Talan İşcan for being a mentor for me during the most challenging times as a newcomer to Canada. He was always inspiring, supportive, and motivating and showed sincere care and kindness. I made significant life choices under his guidance that had real and long-lasting effects in my future.
I remember the heavy math including formulas that did not even fit in two blackboards that most of us find extremely challenging. Indeed, the math was complicated but thanks to my undergraduate training in Statistics, I was able to handle them well. However, the true challenge for me was to approach the economic theories by shifting my mindset; rather than seeing them as pure mathematical solutions, I trained myself to understand the meanings behind them as complex social relationships. Economic theories put people’s behaviour at the core of its rigorous discipline. This training became practically useful in my career at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in Toronto. My role was to provide business solutions using statistical and financial models to drive decision making as the Manager of Client and Business Insights. Studying economics help me understand past, future and current behaviour of consumer trends, methodologically explore sector and market information, and apply them to a business context.
After gaining nine years of experience in the Commercial Banking sector, I made a radical shift by moving overseas as an expat and started a new career at the United Nations. Recently, I have been recently assigned as Country Director for Philippines at International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is an international financial institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations. I feel very privileged to have this responsibility because it gives me the opportunity to develop programmes to address poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. My education in economics provided me in depth understanding of the factors driving the economic growth, public debt, and the effective use of public financing. I apply my learning at Dalhousie to improve the livelihoods of the most marginalized and excluded communities by collaborating with the government authorities and UN/NGO/Private sector partners.
Beyond the top-notch academic training, Dalhousie had significant influence on my values, inspired me and built confidence in a better future, and broadened my outlook on life and its possibilities. The culture among the faculty and staff is very constructive promoting a proactive attitude towards helping its students reap their full potential. Back then, it was a milestone for me when I was tasked with a teaching assistant assignment. I had the opportunity to give preparatory algebra classes to undergraduate students. As a fresh graduate, I was learning how to provide value to others, testing my own skills for the first time through a real-life working experience.
After working many years in both humanitarian and development sectors within the UN, I could confidently say that my education in Economics was the most relevant experience help me advocate in favour of rural communities through development planning, formulating national policies with public authorities and their governance, as well as developing investment programmes to strengthen the rural economies in the very fragile and conflict affected states. Dalhousie’s Economic programme has played a big role in defining my aspirations and professional career and I will always remain grateful for my education and enrichening experience.