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Success in India for Marshal Papworth graduate

Name:                          Shakeb Nabi

Country:                        India

Course:                        MA International Development Management

University:                     The University of Bradford, 2004

It is always pleasing to hear back from Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship beneficiaries – especially those who graduated towards the start of our development programme.

Shakeb studied for an MA in International Development Management at the University of Bradford in 2004 with Marshal Papworth scholarship funds, and he now works as the Country Representative for India at Dutch non-profit organisation, ICCO Corporation.

“My journey from one of the most underdeveloped states of India to being a senior executive in the development sector is a journey of struggle, passion, empathy and wanting to do good for the society at large,” explains Shakeb.

“I was one of the eight siblings born to junior level government officials living in a house made of mud and thatched roof. As we started growing up, so was my father’s passion to provide us with a better education as he believed that this is the only way which would help a person lead a decent life.

“My early education was dependent on my father’s professional career and when he was able to earn more through his part-time business, we got educated in a better school. When funds didn’t allow the more costly education, we were shifted to a government school where the tuition fees were not a big burden on my parents. This way I had the opportunity to study at five different schools and grow up in a mixed culture which taught me to respect and embrace diversity.”

“I have always believed and practiced regular knowledge acquisition and I truly believe that development work is all about knowing the people who you work with, their context and at the same time understanding the theory of change and also what is happening in other parts of the world. For me development work is closely connected with having a very sound academic rigor with a knack for connecting with the people who you work with.”

Shakeb’s first international travel and first international exposure on development issues was with the Marshal Papworth Fund. Shakeb says: “Landing at the London airport I had a mix of curiosity and excitement; curiosity in the sense that I was born and brought up in a small town in India and whether I would be able to adjust to the new environment, and excitement that I had stepped out to explore the unknown as my knowledge about Europe was mostly restricted to books and television programmes.

“Since then it has been a journey full of excitement, new friends and new learnings. Thanks to Marshal Papworth Fund for giving me the opportunity to learn, grow, contribute and help me take leadership roles in this sector.”

The scholarship helped Shakeb develop a ¨Culture of Learning and Sharing¨ which he intends to continue through his work. During his course, Shakeb made many friends with whom he interacts on a regular basis to understand what is happening in different parts of the world – this alumni support network is a key part of the Marshal Papworth Fund development programme.

“Following my Marshal Papworth scholarship, the quest for learning created a desire within me, which led me to do other Masters studies focusing on humanitarian aid, conflict and peacebuilding across three universities in Europe. A perfect blend of field-based expertise and academic excellence has equipped me with the skills and expertise to work on some of the most complex programmes in the world, including the massive earthquake in India in 2001, the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005, the Rohingya Crisis in 2017, and various small level disasters across South and South-East Asia.”

Shakeb has now managed various teams, totalling more than 200 colleagues, and managed budgets up to £20million. “Most of my work has been around working with the most vulnerable and the marginalized communities towards increasing their income whether it is through livelihoods support, skills development and social enterprise promotion.”

We are very proud of the achievements and impact that Shakeb has made in South and South-East Asia, and we can’t wait to hear what he does next. Check out Shakeb’s video below for more detail, including how the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged his work.

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