As an Executive MBA (EMBA) student, you don’t have to choose between your career and your studies, which was exactly the case for Roland Friedrich, who worked as a senior political affairs officer for the United Nations while pursuing his EMBA at Cambridge Judge Business School. Friedrich graduated with his EMBA in 2016, but through his studies he was involved in the rebuilding of Libya as part of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). This mission, established in 2011, supports the country’s transitional authorities and institutions after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi.
Of his role, Friedrich said in a Cambridge Judge blog: “42 years of authoritarian rule left behind weak institutions, multiple factions, and militias vying for influence and an abundance of weapons. Six years after the 2011 revolution, the country faces a prolonged political, security and—more recently—economic crisis. The challenges range from terrorism and organized crime and deteriorating living conditions to political polarization and fragmenting institutions.”
As for how he got involved in Libya, it started with a career in the German armed forces where he focused on conflict management, security sector reform, and Middle Eastern affairs. From there, Friedrich spent eight years at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces as a security sector reform advisor. After that, he joined the UN to work directly with Libya.
Over the course of his work, Friedrich has been involved in some incredible initiatives, including ceasefire negotiations between the ‘Libya Dawn’ and ‘Dignity’ militias, negotiating the Libyan Political Agreement, and advising the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya on the mission’s policies in the region.
“[This work] requires a thorough understanding of the local players and their motivations, a clear vision of what you want to achieve, and lots of creativity and flexibility when facilitating a deal,” he wrote. “There are quite some shared aspects here with strategy development and negotiations in the business world.”
And it was these “shared aspects” that made an EMBA at Cambridge Judge such a good idea. In his work, particularly dealing with the balance of power between nations, Friedrich found that understanding the latest management approaches was a great way to enhance his work in mediation and strategy.
“Cooperation between the UN and the private sector is picking up sharply, not only in the humanitarian and development fields but also in peace and security,” Friedrich explained. “The EMBA helps me get on top of the latest management concepts and practices. It also helps me develop a thorough understanding of strategic management and organizational behavior—issues that have always fascinated me and that are of direct relevance to my work.”
For a full account Roland Friedrich’s experience as a UN officer and EMBA student, check out the blog on the school website.