The climate crisis is one of the most urgent issues facing our society. With her degree in International Public Policy from Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL), Chevening Alum Maha Kamal is building solutions.
We spoke to her to find out about her journey to Queen Mary and what her career has been like since she graduated in 2016.
Tell us about your journey to Queen Mary.
Queen Mary has a global reputation as a stellar university, and I had heard great things about the new School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at Queen Mary.
I was particularly interested in the fact that the International Public Policy program was at the intersection of two of my disciplines: International Relations, which I had studied at the undergrad level, and Public Policy practice, which I was a part of as a think-tanker working on energy and climate policy in Pakistan.
What aspects of your degree did you enjoy most?
I really enjoyed the modules on International Public Policy with Dr. David Williams and the Implementation and Evaluation module with Dr. Patrick Diamond, which had elements from public policy practice.
Overall, the faculty is great and I had a wonderful time developing my thesis under the supervision of Dr. Paul Copeland.
What was particularly amazing at QMUL was the diversity in our classroom.
I studied with students from literally all around the world, and they each brought their own experiences of public policy practice to the classroom, whether it was in class discussions or group projects.
What are you doing now and how did your degree at Queen Mary help you get there?
At the moment I’m a consultant for the World Bank working on climate governance at the sub-national level in Pakistan.
I also co-chair Women in Energy Pakistan, and am part of the Global Shapers which is a community of the World Economic Forum.
My master’s thesis was on the Paris Agreement and Climate Change, so my time at Queen Mary, and the understanding of global climate governance it gave me, definitely plays a role in my professional life.
What made you choose the field you’re working in right now?
I have been passionate about Sustainable Development since 2012 when I first took a course on it at Boston University.
I chose to develop that understanding further in my work at a think-tank in Islamabad, and later during my time in London, not just through courses at Queen Mary, but also through the wider climate policy network in London.
Who has been your biggest influence and why?
I have been lucky to have had a number of different mentors in life – from my time as a think-tanker, to the professors at Queen Mary, to most recently, our head of department at a university where I taught economics and public policy for three years. They have all been deeply influential.
In your career to date, what achievements are you most proud of?
As a founding chair of Women in Energy Pakistan, I have been amazed at the work we have done and the progress we have made in the last 3-4 years.
I am also proud to have co-led the Scale 360 circular economy project for Lahore as part of Global Shapers.
What are the open questions you would like to see addressed in your field?
Evidence-informed policy is always fraught with challenges. I would like to see that developed more.
What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing careers International Public Policy?
Go beyond the theories of public policy and try to develop a thorough understanding of the practice of public policy through internships, volunteer work and jobs. Understanding the interaction of different stakeholders and competing policy priorities will give you greater insights into how policy is shaped at the global level.