Suzanne Damman

MSc Global Health. Graduated 2017.

What inspired you to study this course? 

At the time, I was working at the Red Cross and I was looking for a way to gain in-depth knowledge about health in emergency settings to compliment my practical experience in the Philippines. A colleague of mine was already taking the course and recommended it to me. Initially I was thinking of only getting the certificate, but once I had started I realised the course was too valuable not to pursue until the MSc level.

At the same time my husband was pursuing his MBA at Manchester Business School, so he was the one who gave me the confidence that combining a full time job with a part-time degree (through distance learning) was possible. 

How did you hear about the course?

Through the Red Cross network, we received emails promoting this course on an annual basis. They triggered my interest. 

What is your current role and what do you enjoy the most about it? 

Halfway through the course I left the Red Cross and joined the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. My focus shifted from healthcare and disaster response/preparedness to conflict resolution. I found the course perfectly adaptable to both contexts as it covered global health in various settings, including disasters and conflicts. 

I am currently responsible for managing and supporting our Asia operations together with our Regional Director. It is a regional role that involves a lot of different country contexts, diverse teams, and frequent travel, which I enjoy very much. 

How have the skills and knowledge gained on the course helped you in your current role/career progression? 

Although I now have a general programme management role and therefore do not deal with technical issues around global health anymore. I have found studying for an MSc next to a full time job offered so many other skills that may be less evident initially, but that I still use on a daily basis. For example, time management, as combining a full time job and a part time degree is not always easy and requires constant dedication and commitment. However, by planning well ahead and managing your time well it is certainly doable and I still benefit from this experience on a daily basis. Moreover I found the experience of going back to university after having worked for a number of years not only very rewarding, but it also helps you to further develop your analytical and critical thinking skills again. Skills I found are not honed and developed as much once you start working, but which you do require in most jobs on a daily basis. 

What were the benefits of the course being online?

As I was based in the Philippines at the time for work, it made it possible for me to gain a degree from a UK university, while living and working on the other side of the world. I also enjoyed the virtual classroom experience, where I was able to interact with people in similar jobs like my own from all over the world. This was a truly enriching experience and something my first degree certainly did not offer at the time. The course being online also meant you are in complete control of when and where you study, write and work. This made the course extremely flexible and well-suited for people with busy schedules, and/or full-time jobs. 

Do you have any advice for people wanting to follow in your footsteps? 

I would recommend taking this course once you have at least 5-10 years of work experience already. The course is very applicable to various contexts, but you’ll get most out of it if you can apply it to your existing or previous work settings. I found that the biggest difference between my first and second degree, as this time around it was not mere theory anymore and you know better what knowledge benefits you most, so you choose your paper topics accordingly and can thereby ensure work and study complement each other perfectly.

Please also know that if you do work full-time, be prepared to spend at least (part of) one weekend day or a few evenings on this course, as it does require dedication, commitment and the sacrifice of a bit of free time. However as it is all online, it is extremely flexible at the same time, which is a big benefit. If you are open to that this course is for you! 

What did you enjoy most about the course?

The interaction with my classmates from all over the world, which was a great learning experience and the helpful feedback from teachers, professors and others, that helped develop my analytical and (academic) writing and research skills further. 

What advice would you give someone considering undertaking the MSc in Global Health?

I can certainly recommend taking this course as it offers not only in depth knowledge about global health, if you are looking to deepen your knowledge, but it also helps you develop more general skills such as team work, critical writing, time management, project management, research skills, and online content management.