July 12, 2018 - 4:30pm
After graduating from VIU in 2016 with a double major in History and Political Studies, Ebrahim Lababidi rushed home to Beirut, Lebanon, for a quick visit with family before starting his master’s degree at the University of Toronto’s (U of T’s) Munk School of Global Affairs. While in that program he had some incredible experiences, including an internship with UNICEF Canada. Ebrahim was happy to tell us all about that experience, and what’s next for him.
What have you been up to since graduating from VIU?
During my studies at U of T, my research focused on several interesting topics, including anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing; energy policy in the age of renewables; and innovation policy.
How did VIU help you in what you are doing now?
VIU has given me many skills and experiences that have helped me thus far. The most important aspect of my VIU experience was the close relationships I developed with my professors. As an international student at VIU, I noticed this personal approach is not only reflected in courses or lectures, but is also a key part of the culture the University has adopted in every aspect of the student experience.
It is because of this that I can say with full confidence that my successes today are a result of the knowledge, advice and friendship my professors at VIU shared with me. I would also like to take this opportunity to name the professors who instilled a lasting impact on me. Thank you to Dr. Alexander Netherton, Dr. John Hinde, Dr. Catherine Schittecatte, Dr. Mark Williams and Deanne Schultz for your guidance and friendship. Please know you are still part of my journey. I am forever grateful.
Tell us about your internship at UNICEF.
During the end of the second semester of my program, I applied for a summer internship with UNICEF Canada. My initial role at UNICEF was International Policy intern. I worked with the team writing briefs and working on UNICEF reports, but my main project was to develop a new key performance indicator (KPI) framework to effectively measure the International Policy team’s advocacy. I also worked on editing and research for the Corporate Social Responsibility team, drafted a brief for a high-level Government of Canada consultation with Global Affairs Canada, and published an op-ed on child inequality on behalf of UNICEF Canada in the Huffington Post. The KPI framework I developed is currently in use, and right after I finished it, my internship was extended for another month with the Communications team doing similar work.
As part of your master’s program, you worked on a capstone project with Grand Challenges Canada. Tell us about that.
Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) is one of the largest impact investors in the country, funding health innovations in low- and middle-income countries with the support of Global Affairs Canada and other key stakeholders. GCC is keenly interested in following the progress of the innovations they fund. I was one of five students from my program working as a team to help GCC better understand what is happening with their innovations a year or more after completing the Transition to Scale (TTS) program, which aims to take innovations from proof-of-concept to scalable and sustainable solutions that deliver global health impacts.
Specifically, we worked to understand the health impact, scale and sustainability, and systems-level changes associated with the innovations that we were reviewing. The outcome of the engagement is two-fold: first, the data generated from the project is used to optimize GCC’s learning with regard to TTS innovators and how to best support them; second, we produced a tool that can be used to glean insight from innovators with regard to their successes and failures in scaling their innovations. We are also working on an outward-facing document to help better inform innovators and organizations in the field of impact investing and blended innovation to better accommodate challenges.
What’s next for you?
I graduated in June, and I am taking things step by step. Currently, I am working for the Ontario Public Service’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, in the Health Capital Investment division. My end goal is to work for the United Nations in a diplomatic or security capacity.