Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

Ashraf Hossain Bhuiyan

About Ashraf

  • Field and focus area of study: Global Development, International Development

  • Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • Fun fact: I walked in a fashion show when I was eight years old!

  • View Ashraf's LinkedIn profile

What were you doing prior to your degree program?

Before joining the MPS program I was working in a state-owned financial institution in Bangladesh, IDCOL-Infrastructure Development Company Limited. IDCOL is the pioneer in financing renewable energy and infrastructure projects in Bangladesh with the largest portfolio among non-banking financial institutions. I joined them in 2014 and worked in the Credit Administration unit, tasked primarily with managing the investment portfolio of IDCOL.

What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in order to participate in the program? 

The biggest obstacle that I had to overcome was the misbelief of unattainable dreams. Most of the students in Bangladesh have the idea that admission to an Ivy League school is unachievable and many do not even try. I had to overcome that perception and muster the courage to apply to Cornell. I wanted to pave the way and show others that anything can be attained with determination and perseverance.

Why did you choose to pursue the MPS degree?

I have an MBA and five years of experience working in the financial sector in Bangladesh, but I did not have international exposure. The MPS degree presented me with the opportunity to gain that exposure as well as learn something new in the field of sustainable development. As an example, through two of my courses, I was trained in Results Based Management, a very important tool in the monitoring and evaluation of international programs and projects. I believe training in these areas will distinguish me from other candidates when I start applying for jobs in the field of development. Also, at Cornell, I did group projects in almost every course with people from different cultures and backgrounds which gave me an idea of how to navigate myself in an environment within a diverse team setting.

What are your post-MPS plans?

I have always wanted to become an international development professional specializing in financial management - that is one of the key reasons for selecting my concentration in International Development. After the MPS program, I shall seek employment in the Bretton Woods Institutions and in various organizations under the UN system. I believe I will get the best opportunities there to make a difference in people’s lives.

What are the strengths of the Global Development program, in your opinion?

The main factor that makes this program unique is the opportunity to select courses from different fields. The program allowed me to take courses in the field of development economics, development sociology, public administration, entrepreneurship, labor relations, and mathematical programming. Through the program, I got the opportunity to interact with people from varied backgrounds and learn from their perspectives.  

What have been some of your most rewarding moments while in your program?

One of the most rewarding moments for me was the chance to go to Colombia as part of the Dyson School’s Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Team (SMART) program. It was my first exposure to the Latin American culture. I got the opportunity to observe, firsthand, how coffee cooperatives operate and struggle with the organizational dual identity crisis.

What courses stand out as most helpful for your specific career goals? 

Every single course that I have taken here is crucial for me for my career goals. But the following three courses really challenged me and widened my perspective: Economics of Agricultural Development, Evaluation of International Programs and Risk Optimization. The first one introduced me to the theories of development economics, the second one gave me the training on monitoring and evaluation and through the third one, I got a glimpse of the realm of mathematical programming.

What do you like about being involved in student organizations?

I participated in a community event organized by Cornell Welcomes Refugees. It was a poetry reading event on the theme of citizenship and cultural identity. When I was listening to the students, I was amazed by the depth of their thinking process and presentation of strong viewpoints.

How have the faculty supported your educational goals?

The support and the engagement that I received from the faculty and my advisory committee was riveting. They provided meaningful and consistent feedback about my performance and the progress. Many of them provided career advice and on how I should pursue my goals.