Nazeema Ahamed returned to Sri Lanka in December 2009, after obtaining her MA in Policy Studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) under the Australia Awards program.
Equipped with an in depth understanding of policy review and analysis, she now serves as Dfirector of Planning at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research, a position that directly deals with policy formulation, strategic planning and monitoring, and evaluation.
Nazeema had carefully selected elective courses that were relevant for her field of work and the Sri Lankan context. These courses, such as project management, research evaluation, policy analysis, and policy advocacy, have direct relevance with the day-to-day activities in her current role.
Ahamed commented, “I have been able to contribute to the formulation of policies and strategic plans. I am also engaged in assisting the institutes functioning under the Ministry to prepare project proposals and develop performance indicators.”
“These are tasks that are directly related to some of the electives that I followed in Australia. My case study of the Australian NGO, Greening Australia, helped to enhance my capacity to do reviews of our institutes. Thus, I am more than satisfied with the program that I did in Australia and its relevance to my work in Sri Lanka,”
She says that the Australian education system provides a large space for self-learning. Improvement in self-learning and understanding a topic within a short period have strengthened her decision making, a crucial part of her job. The soft skills she learned through group exercises have been useful in her personal life as well.
Other skills and behaviours that Nazeema sharpened during her time in Australia include greater self-confidence to face challenges in her career, a capacity to motivate members of her team, an ability to meet deadlines, an enhanced ability to network, and mentoring subordinates.
Nazeema was promoted to the position of Director three years after she returned from Australia. In this role, she has contributed to the formulation of a number of national policies and programs. She was also nominated by the government to represent the Sri Lankan delegation at the 21st Conference of Parties on Climate Change in France.
“The Australian educational systems and supporting services such as stress management, counseling, toastmaster programs, etc. had a great influence not only on my career development but also in personal development.”
“These services boosted my confidence to face critical and challenging situations. I have become a promoter of education and training within my department and I was able to facilitate a toast master program for my subordinates to reduce the language barrier at work.”
Ahmed is a mother of two boys and balances work and family without any major issues. Her practice of setting targets or objectives in life has brought her great success and fulfillment in work and family.
Nazeema, who was recently selected as an Australia Awards Ambassador, has the following advice for aspiring scholarship applicants: “Your success is in your hands. Opportunities do not come all the time. The Australian Scholarship is a lifetime opportunity to become a worthy person in society. Do not miss it.”