Alumni profile - Marjan Nur
London is the most amazing city I have ever been to. Because of the nature of my job and traveling being a passion of mine, my interest has taken me to 38 countries, and among them I have found, and still find, London the most vibrant, multicultural, and welcoming. No matter where you are from, you will be able to find the little version of your country in this city.
As an international student, what made you decide to study in London and at Queen Mary in particular?
My father received a scholarship from the British Government to complete his postgraduate degree in the UK back in 1993. After his studies, he always dreamed that I would pursue my higher studies in the UK.
As for London, I chose to study there mostly because I love the city, especially as it is the hub of the best, and most historic universities in the world. I still remember when I was searching for a university back in 2011, I came across an article about London as the education capital of the world; this immensely motivated me.
I had an opportunity to visit London when I was in high school. At the time, I visited several universities, however, I found Queen Mary to be the most welcoming and the campus attracted me a lot. Because of the global reputation, my subject, the modern establishments, and the vibrant neighborhood, I knew this was the place I was going to call my alma mater.
Why did you choose to study a joint honours BSc in Environmental Science with Business Management?
Bangladesh is a developing country and is also vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change. I wanted to pursue my career in this field in order to effectively contribute as a leader in this sector, especially in Bangladesh. My two preferences were either Economics or Environmental Science. So, when I was researching this course, it exactly reflected my interests and future career prospects. As such, I applied for this course.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable and was there anything that surprised you in your studies?
There are a lot of things to mention, but the most enjoyable aspect was the learning process. It was entirely facilitative and there were plenty of resources offered by the School of Geography. The field trips to different places gave me real exposure to practical understanding. As an international student, it also really helped me to develop my communication skills and build a strong network.
How did you find the experience of studying and living in London? What helped you adapt to a new culture and way of life?
London is the most amazing city I have ever been to. Because of the nature of my job and traveling being a passion of mine, my interest has taken me to 38 countries, and among them I have found, and still find, London the most vibrant, multicultural, and welcoming. No matter where you are from, you will be able to find the little version of your country in this city. I still remember the taste of mouthwatering authentic Bangladeshi food in London! I spent five years in London but never faced a single unexpected incident; I must say, London is a very welcoming place, especially if you are an international student.
Were you a member of any societies or volunteering groups during your time at Queen Mary? If so, what did you gain from them?
I was involved in the Green Impact Project, which was a volunteering role to ensure campus-wide sustainability. This experience helped me a lot when it came to designing a Green Campus project when I became a faculty member at a university in Bangladesh. It also helped me to have a better understanding of campaigning and building partnerships with different stakeholders, and how to motivate people for behavioural change. I was also a member of Queen Mary’s Bangla Society, where I met lots of friends from my own country.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help you decide the career path you wanted to pursue?
I always had a keen interest in the career field I chose, what enlightened the interest was my course pattern here at Queen Mary. I got to learn about how the impact of development, increases in population, infrastructures, and transportation systems, negatively affect the environment and natural ecosystem. This impacted deeply on my thoughts regarding the environment and helped me to come up with ideas to tackle problems associated with it, and to apply my learning in ways that will help the world to mitigate environmental changes, and, if possible, halt them completely.
Can you describe your career path since you graduated in 2015 and touch on your current role as a Climate Change Policy Manager for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in Bangladesh?
After completing my higher studies, I came back to Bangladesh. I joined the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh as a Faculty Researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD). Then I worked as a Research Coordinator at the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University, for three years.
Studying in a foreign country helps you to learn and appreciate other cultures, overcome challenges of living in another country, and gain a greater understanding of the world. These are all things that the progressive world looks for, and such traits develop our skills, help us to communicate better, and to develop lifelong friendships from all over the globe.
For the last four years before starting my current position, I was involved in research on climate science, policy and governance, mitigation and adaption. My present role at the British High Commission in Dhaka, is to strengthen the UK/Bangladesh partnership in climate action and wider stakeholder engagement, which gives me an opportunity to work with diverse key actors working in climate action. My portfolio also covers supporting long-term decarbonisation and resilience and adaptation objectives in Bangladesh, including clean growth, energy transition, nature-based solutions and green finance.
What are some of the skills you gained through your degree that you use in your work today?
The practical learning and exposure that I gained during my studies at Queen Mary helped me to have a broader understanding of the context and, most importantly, made me confident in each of the steps of my career path.
Why do you think it’s important for people to study Environmental Science?
Environmental science is important to save our world from destruction. It is very important to know the complex nature of Earth and how it interacts with us, from economic to psychosocial aspects. It involves a lot of discipline and fields of study from science to politics. We need to study the environment and the sciences applied into it to find solutions to different environmental issues so that the children of tomorrow can still enjoy a healthy and productive environment in the future.
What advice would you give to prospective students thinking of studying in another country based on your own experiences?
Studying in a foreign country helps you to learn and appreciate other cultures, overcome challenges of living in another country, and gain a greater understanding of the world. These are all things that the progressive world looks for, and such traits develop our skills, help us to communicate better, and to develop lifelong friendships from all over the globe. Have an open mind and a zeal to learn new things - the experience shall be well cherished and of course, worth it.
This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Nathalie Grey. If you would like to get in touch with Marjan or engage him in your work, please contact Nathalie at email@example.com.