Thérèse Burke, EMBA 2015
Thèrèse, tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Northern Ireland but for the last six years I’ve been living in the Netherlands. I have around 12 years of experience in international marketing working in a broad range of roles in the animal nutrition, biotech and agribusiness sectors. I’m currently working for an international nonprofit organization based in the Netherlands called CTA where I joined to set up a marketing communications function six years ago. Coming from a private sector background, I found it a very challenging environment initially but it’s been a hugely rewarding experience. We work with a wide range of stakeholders from UN agencies to Ministries of Agriculture to regional Farmers’ Organizations to advance agriculture and rural development in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific in areas such as nutrition security, agribusiness, value chains and climate-smart agriculture. I’ve always worked in an international environment but CTA is truly special – we are approximately 60 staff from over 25 different countries.
How did the knowledge/experience acquired through the EMBA contribute to your non-profit career? What challenges did the EMBA help you overcome in your current position/sector?
The insights and knowledge I’ve acquired over the past 18 months as part of the EMBA program have been very helpful often in unexpected ways. By getting an understanding of the ‘business’ of the different functions in an organization e.g. HR, finance, etc., I’ve been better able to ask the right questions and understand what information is needed and why. This had helped me to be more efficient in my work and help those around me to do the same.
Sustainability is a big issue for all business regardless of the sector, but when you are reliant on donor funds, planning for the future of your organization is essential. The EMBA has given me real insights into how to do this more effectively.
Of particular relevance to the nonprofit sector is the understanding of how to work with the private sector as there is a strong trend towards developing more Public Private Partnerships. The EMBA obviously gives you a great understanding of how private sector thinks and how they work, but it was conversations with classmates that offered me a real insight into how the private sector views public sector/nonprofit organizations. This is invaluable in terms of knowing how to pitch our organization and ‘sell’ our story.
An unexpected but very positive experience from the EMBA is the confidence that it has given me. Confidence because now that I have a better understanding of what the various departments need, I know how to talk to them and discuss what we need to do at a deeper level. This has also carried through to discussions with management and the Director.