Home>Dilek, Programme Manager in the Project on Peace and Security in the MENA Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation


Dilek, Programme Manager in the Project on Peace and Security in the MENA Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation

Dilek Gürsel has graduated in International Development. She has a dual nationality from Germany and Turkey and now works as Programme Manager in the Project on Peace and Security in the MENA >Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, in Beirut, Lebanon.

What is your role and main responsibilities? 

FES is the political foundation of the social-democratic party of Germany. My responsibilities include designing activities in the frame of regional peace, security and migration and oversee their implementation while closely working with partner organisations, growing and maintaining our partner networks and providing capacity building. Next to researching on relevant topics more in depth, it also includes overseeing and managing the budget.

How did you secure this role? 

I signed up for an information newsletter in Germany called "IB-Liste" and jobs as well as events and workshops are sent around to students and professionals in international relations and related other fields. I saw a role in the project I currently work in November 2020 and applied. I interviewed for the specific role and was also considered for another one, but it did not work out at the time. However, it was not because I was not a fit, therefore they kept me in their database and I was regularly in contact with them on a friendly basis, maybe also because one of the managers who interviewed me did her studies at the same university in Germany where I did my undergrad. Early this year I was looking to transition out of the humanitarian sector for which I had worked the past two years, and they reached out again and one thing led to the other. The experience I gained working in Turkey and Iraq prior has definitely helped and made me more fit for the role meanwhile.

What is the most fascinating and/or surprising aspect at your role?

I have been fascinated by the inspirational energy of my colleagues all over the region. We had a regional meeting and it showed me how transformative approaches are so present and how the foundation's projects actually allow for these to blossom. 

How did your PSIA experience help you with the role? 

PSIA has allowed me to think bigger. Before, many places seemed "distant" to be, meaning that I could not necessarily make a link for myself outside of my known scope. However, the academic and practical inputs in PSIA as well as the other students and friends have showed me it is doable. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to study in such an enriching environment. If one thing, I would say you learn to be critically diplomatic and this has helped me with cultural sensitivity and analytical curiosity.

What advice would you give to others? 

To not stop trying. Try try try until you get closer to what you want in the moment. I am not sure if having a long term vision is necessary and should guide everything, but I can say that I did not embark on my first experiences after PSIA with a clear idea. Even actually too little idea. I got into a sector I never envisioned for myself (the humanitarian sector) and learned immensely. It has sharpened me workwise and also allowed me to learn about the international system further. If you look at my first year after PSIA, I lived in Malta and Ethiopia - not really related to my interests now. 

Still, I value both experiences and would not want it any other way. I really appreciated meeting many bright colleagues of which some are friends and some were temporary family. It might be a personality thing, however I think PSIA education provides the ideal ground for so many things, and trying leads you really to where you might want to head - you just don't necessarily know it while being busy studying!

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