Issa Belmond Thullah
Current Employer/Organisation Name
Office of National Security
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
When I left Exeter, I returned home to work for the Office of National Security which is the main coordinating outfit within the security sector and advises the President of the country on national security matters. Currently, I am contributing to the wider security sector efforts to prepare for, and respond effectively to, threats and hazards that impact on the peace and safety of communities in Sierra Leone.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
I choose this career because of my past. Between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war that devastated the country to almost irreparable proportions. The war left 50,000 dead and 20,000 mutilated – while three quarters of the population displaced. I witnessed my country crumbled and succumbed to the atrocities of the war. Lodged with this experience, I was always striving to make a change in my country that will help to resuscitate the lives of those who were affected by the war and to ensure that such does not repeat itself. This is why I decided to work in the security sector to help stabilize the country and create the enabling environment for peace and development to thrive. What I enjoyed most about my job is working with diverse people and changing society for the better.
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
What I enjoyed most about the MA Applied Security and Strategy programme is the perfect dialogue between theory and practice. The course is exceptional not just because of its rich academic package, but also the noteworthy field trips and experience sharing by practitioners, offered by external speakers. Students are availed the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real life situations and get their career ready. My biggest highlight is the field trips to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) in Gloucestershire.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
The teaching and learning environment is conducive and the student support system works perfectly to boost the wellbeing of students.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
I choose the University of Exeter because of its reputation and high standards.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
The field of security and strategy is dynamic enough to accommodate a variety of skills and competencies. However, those I consider most useful are adaptability and problem solving, leadership and administration, innovation and strong work ethic, critical thinking, communication, organization and time-management, data analysis, project design and management.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
Chosen security and strategy is a great choice. Use your time at the university to engage as much as you can with materials and people to horn your skills and get your career ready. The field of security and strategy offers many career opportunities with satisfactory experience. One is assured of employment in the government, think-tanks, defence and intelligence industry, companies engaged in security research and analysis, non-profit organisations etc. There is so much prospect to grow and live your dreams
What are your plans for the future?
In the long run, my goal is to move up the hierarchy of the national security sector architecture and be part of the highest bodies for the consideration and determination of matters of security and development in my country. Also, I intend to pursue an academic career as university professor.