Rozita Singh graduated 1 year ago from the Urban Management and Development Master's at IHS (UMD-13). She is from New Delhi, India and came to the Netherlands in September 2016 to join IHS as part of the Orange Knowledge Programme. Few months after her graduation, she joined Philips in their Global Sustainability Team in Eindhoven, where she currently lives. Prior to this, she worked in a policy think-tank in New Delhi, in the area of urban climate change resilience.
As one of the few graduates who decided to stay in the Netherlands, we decided to ask her about her studies and experience here, to highlight her journey and get some valuable advice for future alumni.
What was your UMD master study experience like?
My UMD experience was a mixed bag, and I look back very fondly at the times spent at IHS. The multi-cultural ambience at the institute is one of its USPs, and I feel each batch of UMD is so diverse and rich in itself that there is so much to learn from one’s peers besides from the teaching staff! The highlight of the Urban Management and Development study for me were the very well-planned and extremely useful learning blocks - GLUT Game by Professor Carlos Morales and the whole Action Planning block in the Core Period. The external guest lectures added a lot of value in terms of practical insights from the field. The extensive reading material was a good guide throughout our studies.
What happened after you graduated? How was the transition from studying to what you are currently doing?
Time flies very fast during the UMD Program, and very soon, I found myself engrossed in my thesis work. My thesis was on ‘Influence of network governance in transitioning to the circular economy’. I studied two urban neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. Philips was working on their Circular economy program, and I was able to make the link and be at the right place at the right time. My interaction with them was through a huge SDG event that was organised at the Erasmus University.
What is your current occupation? Did your study help and if yes, how?
I am currently working in the Global Sustainability team at Philips on their Circular Economy and Transformation Program. Though the work here is at a corporate scale and not through an urban lens, I would say all my prior work experience, as well as study experience so far, is very well applied at my workplace. When working on sustainability, nothing is exclusive! There are a connection and link with everything.
Why did you choose to do this job/activity?
I had earlier been working in a space with stakeholders like government officials, municipalities, research organisations, multilateral organisations, not-for-profits. I had never worked in a for-profit corporate environment before. When working on sustainability, you must understand the perspectives of all types of stakeholders. In order to drive sustainable consumption and production practices, corporates must be the front runners. With this open thinking and in order to push my comfort zone envelopes, I embraced this challenge. I am happy to learn every day how committed Philips is to drive sustainability ambition throughout their organisation.
What was the biggest challenge after your graduation? How did you overcome it?
I think when I was still in the final stages of my thesis report, I realised that I did not want to go back to my previous way of working in my older organisation. I owe a lot to my old organisation, where I worked for four years, but I felt the need to renew myself and my ambitions. And UMD gave me that confidence that I could go out there make myself open to new opportunities and then take them head-on. There was a short phase between leaving my older organisation and not having my next offer in hand, but I was surprisingly calm and not perturbed by it. I guess I had the faith. After they graduate from UMD, I would advise students to keep the faith and renew themselves, whether in an old organisation or new, but to bring the change that you need to see in this world.
This quote inspires me: “When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump. Otherwise, you end up staying in the same place your whole life”.
What is a cause, idea or project you believe in or would like to pursue?
Waste management- it is the number one developmental and environmental issue right now. Back home in New Delhi, I run a local composting initiative with a lovely organisation called ‘Daily Dump’ (Dailydump.org). I will always-always be associated with composting wherever I am. I often think of scaling it up.
What do you see yourself doing in the next few years?
Always difficult to answer, but something related to sustainability and climate change. Maybe educational initiatives, since I was always a loudspeaker, passionate and motivational talker on this subject, who wants to spread the word around and inspire people!