Student Spotlight: Sheba George (MPP 2019)

Sheba George is Global Development Policy Consultant and Advocate.

Sheba George grew up between Qatar and India, completed her undergraduate studies at Georgetown's School of Foriegn Service, and graduated from the MPP in 2019.

Now working as a Policy Consultant, Sheba advises international organisations and governments on developing public policies and driving systemic change in development sectors. She has served at the United Nations and the European Commission and has advised governments in Europe, the Middle East, and the Global South. As an Advocate, Sheba works for inclusive sustainable development and the socio-economic empowerment of marginalised communities. She has held advocacy designations and delivered "calls-to-action" at various inter-governmental forums including at the G7 as a Feminist Foreign Policy Ambassador, the UN as a Youth Ambassador, and the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper Ambassador. Currently, Sheba works in driving systemic change in global development at SEEK Development, and serves as the EU Ambassador to the Youth Assembly.

1. What motivated you to pursue a career in public policy and how did the Hertie School experience contribute to your success in this field?

For me, a career in public policy and in particular in global development policy was a calling rooted in my deepest convictions. I am passionate about striving toward an equitable and just future for our planet and its people. Towards this end, public policy served as a powerful means to address systemic inequalities in the world by transforming existing governing structures and driving sustainable policy change.

The Hertie School has been an undeniable catalyst for my professional development. The academic programme at Hertie provided me with a profound understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and pragmatic facets of public policy and international relations. Through rigorous coursework and intellectually stimulating exchanges with professors and peers, I acquired a nuanced understanding of the complexities and multifaceted challenges in these fields. The diverse student body at the Hertie School played a crucial role in expanding my perspective on the practical application of public policy in various settings and fostering in me a mindset for developing inclusive policies that integrate diverse perspectives and needs.

2. What strategies did you employ to balance the demands of your studies at Hertie with your professional commitments?

To effectively balance the demanding coursework at Hertie with my professional commitments, I sought to integrate my studies to practical projects at work. For instance, during my tenure at the UNDP, I leveraged my coursework in Politics and Administration at Hertie to inform my work in policy development at the UNDP and subsequently based my final paper on the observations and insights I gained from firsthand experience in public administration at the UNDP. Likewise, while engaging in a migration project for the German government, I selected modules in Applied Migration Research at Hertie that equipped me with analytical tools to comprehensively analyse migration trends, evaluate policy effectiveness, and propose innovative strategies for fostering inclusive migration governance. In turn, I based my final thesis on analysing the effectiveness of the educational and labor market integration policies for refugees in Germany. This approach not only facilitated a seamless transition between my academic and professional spheres but also enriched my learning journey by reinforcing the practical relevance of my courses.

3. How did you plan your career journey (serving as a Policy Consultant for the European Commission and the UNDP) and what advice do you have for current students?

Reflecting on my journey, what helped me the most was cultivating my passion and embracing a mindset of continuous learning. Deeply frustrated with the prevailing governing structures and driven by a desire to create more inclusive and just change, very early on in my career, I embraced my passion for inclusive global development and let it guide my career trajectory and shape my professional contributions. I was drawn to the European Commission, recognising its influential role as a policy driver and a major global development partner. Similarly, acknowledging the profound impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on promoting inclusive sustainable development, I joined the UNDP to contribute to advancing progress on the SDGs. In both instances, I believe my passion (and often, frustration with the status quo) was what carved my career journey and continues to do so in my current roles. In addition to being passionate, I strongly believe in embracing a mindset of continuous learning. Recognising that the world is constantly evolving and that policy solutions require innovative and strategic thinking, I have actively sought opportunities to expand my knowledge base and refine my skills. Staying curious and embracing new perspectives has helped enrich my learnings and develop my professional contributions.

4. What policy issues are you most passionate about and how have you pursued these?

I'm passionate about policy issues that contribute towards shaping a more equitable and just society. I am a staunch advocate for feminist foreign policies (that prioritise a human rights-centered approach to security and peace and uphold inclusive development as a central pillar of international relations). In 2022, as the Feminist Foreign Policy Ambassador to the 48th G7 Summit, I delivered a "call-to-action" to G7 states to adopt and implement feminist foreign, trade, and security policies as a means to address modern slavery and protect human rights around the world.

I'm also dedicated to supporting the policy issue of safeguarding education for children caught in political or humanitarian emergencies (during which education often serves as a critical life-saving health and security measure for children in these circumstances). Working in global development and advocacy at SEEK Development amidst the Covid-19 pandemic (that resulted in the largest known disruption of education systems globally), I developed the evidence-base for tracking the policy and financing support being provided to the issue of education in emergencies and collaborated with experts from the UNHCR and the Global Partnership for Education in advocating for the protection of this sector.

5. What goals or initiatives are you passionate about pursuing in your role as the EU Ambassador to the UN Youth Assembly?

First and foremost, I will be advocating for the inclusion of marginalised voices in global development processes. Recognising the inherent value of diverse perspectives, I believe that it is crucial to ensure that the voices of marginalised communities are heard, respected, and integrated into decision-making forums and that only by embracing the perspectives of the world's most vulnerable populations, can we meaningfully work towards a more inclusive and equitable society. Secondly, I am dedicated to promoting impactful youth leadership and participation in sustainable development. Young people as changemakers of today and future leaders of tomorrow, represent a powerful force for change, and I believe that their active involvement is crucial in shaping a sustainable future. Lastly, in this role, I aim to advocate for the adoption and implementation of feminist foreign policy cooperation among nations and multilateral institutions. By prioritising human rights and sustainable development in both our domestic and foreign policies, I believe we can take concrete steps towards establishing a fairer and more just world for all.

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