Hadrian Numpang anak Hollis Awell
MSc. International Development Management
My postgraduate journey took close to fifteen years of applications, interviews and many rejections before fruition. I am blessed that the Malaysian Government provides competitive scholarships for postgraduate studies for civil servants under the Federal Training Award (HLP). As a serving Administrative and Diplomatic Services (PTD) officer, a postgraduate degree was not only important for my career advancement, but it also provided the necessary knowledge, tools and networks I needed for my work.
Choosing the course and institution
When I was awarded the HLP in 2018, we were only allowed to apply to local institutions. In terms of rankings and reputation in Development Studies, UNM ranked among the highest in Malaysia. It was also a Top 100 university globally. In the end, I applied to UNM after talking to the late Dr Parfitt and meeting Dr Mandal of the School of Politics, History and International Relations (PHIR). Their enthusiasm and professionalism for the programme impressed me greatly.
Having worked on the European Union (EU)’s 2018 Renewable Energy Directive II (REDII) issues pertaining to palm oil-based biodiesels, I was intrigued and wanted to see how this affected our local smallholders. Though the research was fun, time was a challenge. I had to minimise my scope and focused on the beginnings of the biofuels debate and the role played
by EU environmental lobbies. I hope to be able to expand this research, to aid in future policymaking for the palm oil industry.
Choosing your supervisor
At PHIR UNM, we had the opportunity to present our topics and outlines and were then matched with our supervisors according to their expertise. I was delighted to be paired with Dr Benjamin Barton, an EU expert. He is meticulous and passionate, constantly bouncing ideas off me while letting me roam about in academia, researching my topic. A constant voice of reason, he guided me well throughout the process. I am grateful and humbled for this.
Of course, career advancement was somewhere in my mind. I wanted to also challenge myself, to see how far I could go. Continuing my studies after many years of working, was not an easy transition. I had doubts and worries. However, I could relate easily to what was being taught and loved the discussions in classes. It also gave me a sense of focus and maturity, to make the best out of my studies.
Postgrad perks and quirks
This journey has been enriching! My lecturers and supervisor were awesome! I am truly indebted to them. I thoroughly enjoyed researching, spending hours at the library in Semenyih, even once sleeping overnight at the lab. Furthermore, I had a cool bunch of course mates, who were constantly pushing one another. Importantly, I realised that academia can be fun and
that there are many research opportunities, still. Who knows, perhaps a PhD one day? For me, I am thankful it all fell perfectly into place. If you are thinking of applying to further your studies, take that step. I promise you, it will be the start of a beautiful journey, one that will enrich you forever. All the best!