Alumni in Focus

Mostafa Adel Hanafy

PhD researcher, University of Illinois

Mostafa Adel Hanafy

Mostafa Adel, a PhD researcher at the University of Illinois, has over nine years’ experience working with and volunteering for leading international organisations including Save the Children, United Nations Volunteers, GIZ and UNICEF.

Alumnus Mostafa holds two master’s degrees. An MA (Hons) in Public Administration from the American University in Cairo and an MSc in Project Management (Distinction) from RGU which he achieved in 2016, through the Jameel Public Leadership Fellowship and the Chevening scholarship, respectively.

In recognition of his voluntary work, Mostafa was a selected Chevening Social Media Ambassador by the British Embassy and the UK Alumni Awards winner for the Social Impact Category by the British Council in 2019 and he was selected as one of the most promising African leaders by the Obama Foundation in 2019.

Can you tell us about your career journey since graduating from RGU?

My first job right after graduating from RGU was with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) as Technical Advisor leading the planning and implementation of the Career Guidance component in Upper Egypt. After that, I served as an Education Officer at UNICEF, where I supported the ongoing education reform, Education 2.0, working closely with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education. I also led the digital transformation of education in response to COVID-19, besides the development of the LSCE and in-school governance toolkits. In addition, I worked as a Digital Learning Consultant, where I led the deployment and the activation of UNICEF’s Learning Passport.

Meanwhile, I have just kicked-off my PhD journey in educational policy, organisation and leadership, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in digital learning and global studies in education.

How did your time at RGU prepare you for life after university?

My experience at RGU was quite remarkable. I joined the Student Union as the International Student Representative right after starting my program. This enriched my experience, socially and academically, preparing me for working for international organisations with multi-cultural teams. The internship component of the master’s program was quite unique as well. I applied what I’d learnt to support the work and operations of an NGO, which was good preparation for transitioning to the labour market afterwards.

I chose the Project Management course because it equipped me with the necessary skills I can apply in different contexts. This has proven to be successful as I benefited from what I learned in my postgraduate experience working with different international organisations and donors in Egypt and MENA. No matter how the scope of projects changes, I believe I am equipped with the skills that enabled me to navigate them. This applies to my professional and voluntary experiences as well.

What was your most rewarding experience at RGU?

My most rewarding moment was graduating with distinction. This was the first time for me to study abroad, so imagine experiencing this with a competitive postgraduate study program like the project management course. Although I did not manage to attend the graduation ceremony in person, I was equally excited to receive my graduation certificate knowing that I made it to the top of the class. I am still in touch with my advisor who has been of great help and support to me during the program and after.

Can you tell us a bit about the volunteer work you do?

I started my volunteer journey when I was 16 years old. I joined charities and student activities to build my capacity, with an emphasis on soft and life skills. At the age of 21, I led the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Faculty of Petroleum Engineering Suez Chapter to the 4th outstanding chapter in the world. I am originally a petroleum engineer, but I shifted my career to the non-profit field right after graduation. I was also chosen as one of the most inspiring chapter leaders to participate in the AAPG Leadership Days flagship event in the US.

Upon my return to Egypt in 2016, I started an initiative, Alumni Network, to mentor those who aspire to pursue their master’s degree through scholarships.  I have delivered workshops on how to get scholarships and supported more than 2000 scholarship applicants. Also, I presented some workshops and talks on how to pursue a career in the non-profit sector, with more than 2000 attendees.

In 2018, I started outreach to alumni of different scholarships to give back by supporting future applicants through the Alumni Network initiative. This was the first initiative of its kind in Egypt I believe. More than 500 applications have been reviewed free of charge.

Can you tell us about NGOs’ Hub and your participation in the Facebook Community Accelerator?

NGOs’ Hub originally started with the aim of providing a space for development professionals or those who aspire to join the non-profit field to post job openings, internships, or scholarships. The group has been evolving from that to the first online community of practice for the non-profit field. The group is now a space to share advice, exchange experiences, request help, ask for training materials, inquire about job opportunities and more. With more than 98,000 members, the group is the largest online community for development professionals in Egypt. The group membership is not exclusive for Egyptians as we have members from different nationalities actively engaging in the group.

Being selected for the Facebook Community Accelerator as one of the most impactful online communities in Egypt and MENA is confirmation of the wonderful job we have been doing in the group. This is the most significant turning point in the group’s history so far. Through this program, there are huge coaching and capacity building components to enable us to scale and sustain our outreach and impact. This includes networking opportunities with Facebook community leaders from around the globe, to share experiences and learn from their inspiring work.

What advice would you give to our students and alumni who may be thinking about a career in the Third Sector?

The most important advice would be to always work on acquiring new skills. This specific field is always evolving, and development professionals should keep up with these changes, especially the constant changes in funding priorities. Resilience is key to be able to not only work in this field, but to advance. Also, this field is mainly founded on project-based opportunities. This means that your contract will be renewed on an annual basis, of course based on satisfactory performance, and there is no indefinite appointment. This is a double-edged sword though. On the one-hand, you will always be motivated to acquire new skills and build your capacity; however, on the other hand, stability can be hard to achieve. If you are truly passionate about this field, pursue this adventure and aspire to make a positive change, even in the life of one person.

Mostafa can be found:

On LinkedIn - Mostafa Adel, MPA, MPM | LinkedIn

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