Claire Bedwell-Thomas

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: NGO
Job title: Global Programme Impact & MEAL Manager
Subject of study: History / Conflict, Security and Development
Year of graduation: 2001
Type/Level of study: Postgraduate Taught, Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Islamic Relief Worldwide

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I was a mature student when I completed my Masters degree at Exeter. I left my current job as a Client Services Director and went into the humanitarian sector. Completing my masters helped my to make the decision to change my career. I first worked at CARE International UK as a Programme Assistant before moving to Islamic Relief as a MEAL Coordinator. I took on my current position in May 2023.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

This career chose me!! I took a sabbatical from my previous career and went travelling to South-East Asia. This time away from work experiencing a completely different life, different cultures, witnessing such poverty and inequality made me realise that I needed to do a career with more purpose. The masters at Exeter helped to cement this feeling and ultimately helped me to get my first job in the sector. I am now responsible for evidenced and results based programming, impact and learning globally for an international charity and it’s an absolute privilege to be able to do what I do. The best part about my job is going on field visits with our country teams and seeing the impact of the work we do where it matters.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

No – not for my masters degree. I was a mature student and still working full time.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I think the best part about the programme was the work placement piece, as although only for a short duration, this was till a real insight into working in the sector.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The diversity of experience of the lecturers and fellow students.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

I did my undergraduate at Exeter and had a good experience. It is my local university, and a very good university at that, and so it was possible for me to continue to work full time whilst completing my masters degree

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

My research skills required throughout the degree have definitely come in handy in my current job role. The contacts I made during my work placements have also been very useful – I was able to connect a colleague to someone who was conducting some research that was relevant to them for example. As I completed my masters whilst working full time, the necessary time management and multi-tasking skills required to successfully do this continue to be extremely valuable to me in my current position.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Get as much experience as possible, whether through internships, volunteering etc. Take an entry level role (I did!) as it gives you the most experience across the widest range of positions, as well as the contacts that will help you move on in your career.

What are your plans for the future?

Continue with Islamic Relief to try and improve the quality and accountability of our programming worldwide, learning from and collaborating with our amazing colleagues globally.


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