Salma Wehbe

Senior Middle East Partnerships & Philanthropy Manager at Save The Children UK

Why did you choose the M.A. in Global Thought and how did it prepare you for your current career stage?

I chose the M.A. in Global Thought because I was looking for a program that would give me the freedom to work on the projects that are relevant to my interests and career aspirations but could also provide me with solid grounding in topics related to politics, economics, sociology and history. I was very enticed by the fact that you’re basically given a year to craft your own thesis about absolutely anything as long as it is within the realm of globalization, and to be exposed to the extremely impressive faculty and all the experiences that New York City has to offer. This program helped me shift the direction of my career from marketing and communications within the private sector for consumer goods towards the direction of corporation social responsibility, inclusive business and corporate philanthropy. This was largely due to all the knowledge, experiences, collaborations and networks I cultivated throughout this degree.

Describe a favorite M.A. in Global Thought course or project and how it helped your academic, professional, and/or personal growth.

It’s very difficult to choose one specific project or course, because they were very diverse and all have added value to my life in one way or another. Every single one of our teachers was amazing, too. If I absolutely had to pick one course that really stood out to me, it would be Professor Vishakha N. Desai’s Global Politics of Culture class. Firstly, I always thought of myself as someone who is not well-versed in topics related to art, even though I have a deep interest in everything related to culture and cultural anthropology. This class managed to open my eyes to the myriad ways that art and culture are intertwined with politics that I understand very well. The topics we tackled related to the intersectionality between the two were extremely valuable to me because they left me with deep appreciation for the arts and all the power they can cultivate. It’s true that my current professional role is not related to the topic, but I feel like I’ve gained enough knowledge to be able to carry fruitful conversations about arts and politics within any social or academic setting. Secondly, Professor Desai is one of my favorite professors I’ve ever had and she genuinely made me love the course. She is very passionate about the topic, patient, extremely smart and well-read and it felt like a great honor to be her student.

How did you come to work in your current career field and what inspires you about your work?

When I used to work as a marketing and brand manager within the fast-moving consumer goods field in the Middle East, one of the most exciting parts of the job for me was the work I used to do related to corporate social responsibility projects. I fell in love with the topic and it is what pushed me towards the M.A. in Global Thought. Throughout this year, I worked on my thesis in collaboration with an inclusive business department within a multinational based in France, and it opened my eyes even more to how much I loved combining business and social development. I believe that in order for me to truly succeed within the CSR and Inclusive Business field, it’s important for me to gain experience within the non-profit world to understand its intricacies before returning to the private sector. I decided to work at Save The Children because it matters a lot to me to be able to work for a specific purpose that I strongly believe in and this job allows me to implement the business skills I cultivated related to partnerships, marketing and communications with the international development field, working towards goals that I feel will truly make a difference to lives of millions of children.

What advice would you offer current Global Thought students as they enter the job market?

I would say my biggest advice to the students would be to feel free to explore as many opportunities as possible rather than feel stuck to one specific industry or sector. As Global Thought students, we’re naturally inclined to have a huge variety of interests and feel overwhelmed about having to choose one particular path. The only way to know if something is right for you is to go ahead and try it and it is absolutely okay to make mistakes. It is also a great confidence booster that we, as Global Thought students, were exposed to excellent teachers, courses and lectures at Columbia and were part of such an interesting and unique degree. So, go for it, try, make mistakes, try again and always rest assured that you have a strong and supportive community within the CGT rooting for you and helping you in any way they can.

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Salma Wehbe, Class of 2018