Student Life

PDC President Candidate: Mohit Choube

Check out our interview with PDC Presidential Candidate, Mohit Choube.

By The Graduate Press Editorial Board

The spring 2023 Graduate Institute Student Association (GISA) Board election cycle is underway, with candidates running for the positions of President, VP of Master’s, Treasurer, Events Coordinator, and Professional Development Committee (PDC) President. The opportunity for students to nominate themselves for one of these roles extends until the end of the day on April 23rd. 

GISA serves as the voice and principal events organizer for the student body at the Graduate Institute. Members of the GISA board are responsible for hearing student concerns regarding academic and student life, accommodations, and various other issues at the Institute. From April 28th to 30th, IHEID students will have the opportunity to vote online for the candidates they wish to represent them on the GISA Board for the subsequent year. The Graduate Press has reached out to all of the candidates running for the GISA Board this spring and through a series of articles, we will be sharing their platforms. It is crucial that IHEID students engage with the candidates and participate in this year’s election in order to ensure the GISA Board can meet all of the needs of present and future IHEID students. 

We spoke with Mohit Choube, who is running for PDC President. Here is what he had to say. 

Why do you think you are the best candidate for the role of the PDC President?

I have about four years of experience in public policy and development, and this
experience goes across a variety of organizations, be it international organizations like the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General in New York, the UN Environment Program, the South Center, or multinational Fortune-500 consultancy firms like IQVIA. I have also worked with national and provincial governments in India, and with think tanks and NGOs at the ground level. So, I think I have a very wide view of how things work, how these organizations operate, and how they work together to advance development and policy agendas. At the same time, I also know how it feels like to work inside them, and what opportunities a young professional gets to really make an impact while working with them.

So, for example, if you want to work with NGOs, you have a philanthropic pay scale. If you work with consultancies, you get paid well, but your work-life balance can be disturbed because there you often work overtime. However, if you’re working with a consultancy firm and your client is a national government, then you actually are able to make a great deal of impact at a large scale which often is not possible with the limited funds available to an NGOs.

Being a young professional myself, I also understand the challenges faced by young students and their anxieties. I’ve been through that initial kick-starting phase- when you are trying to build your resume and trying to get some experiences to show to the next employer, which puts me in a good position to be able to understand how to help students at the Institute to really build a good career which is fulfilling for them in all aspects, be it in terms of their
passion, their purpose in life, as well as work-life balance and a good pay scale.

To add, I have worked in a variety of fields, such as environment, agriculture,
education, public health, public policy education, and I have worked at a variety of levels – from the grassroots up to the national as well as the international levels. I understand the different perspectives and the kind of skill sets required at each level, what is appreciated at work and how you can really thrive. So, I believe I am capable of initiating a variety of activities at the PDC, to really help a
lot of potentially excellent leaders, who are budding here at the institute and who, I believe, have a very strong potential to change the world in the coming years. And this is the reason I think I’m a very strong candidate for this position.

How will your experiences as a student at the Institute shape your approach to the role of PDC President?

So, over the last semester, and even in the current semester, I’ve been talking to a lot of students, not just in my current batch, but also the senior batch. I have also been in touch with some alumni. I understand the variety of opportunities they are seeking, and the challenges they are facing. I have attended all the workshops by the Career Services, their counseling session, and their CV check session, all of which have helped me secure my current internship with the UN Secretary General’s Executive Office. I have also attended many events organized by different student initiatives. So, I know what is on offer at the institute and what are the gaps — and as President of the PDC, I would address those gaps.

What other experience do you have that you believe qualifies you for the role of PDC President?

During my undergraduate years, I was the Founding Secretary of Engineers Without Borders’ chapter at my institute. I was also the Founding Convener of a culture and heritage club, where I was leading a team of 20 students and the club’s activities were widely appreciated by the students and faculty alike. Overtime, I’ve learned what can make things fail while leading student bodies and what can really make things succeed. Students are volunteering their time for the PDC, so it is very important to keep them driven by identifying their interests and motivation. So, bringing people together, understanding their interests and synergies, and creating an environment which motivates them to work better and be happy at the same time, I think I’ve learned that over time. 

Apart from this, during one of my jobs, I was managing an executive education program in Public Policy, where I was required to invite a lot of senior policy professionals as well as diplomats for talks and webinars. I also arranged workshops and group meetings for young professionals. So, I know the logistics required for that, I understand how to manage budgets, and how to design programs. These experiences will help me manage a variety of activities at the PDC.

If elected, what will be the primary goal you want to achieve as PDC President?

The world today is in a state of polycrisis and will most likely remain so over the next few decades – economic crisis, climate crisis, war, social development issues, rollback of progressive policies in terms of say, women empowerment. We need leaders who can really help tackle these challenges, and many such leaders would emerge from this institute. I strongly believe that there is a huge potential amongst us, and the alumni track record justifies my point here. So, I think my goal would be to help these people groom themselves to find their own purpose in life, and fast-track that initial period of identity-crisis, so they don’t end up wasting a lot of their years in just figuring out what they want to do in life. 

With that in mind, I aim to work on a five-point agenda as President of the PDC, which I would like to elaborate a bit on. 

So firstly, we need a dedicated website for PDC. Right now, we have a GISA web page and an Instagram account, which are good, but we need a more structured approach. 

Second, the “Grooming Future Leaders Program”. It will have three components. First, will be a set of ‘Self-Realization’ workshops which would aim to help you deep-dive on some fundamental questions like – Who Am I ? What do I really want to do in life? What would I enjoy doing? The second component would be ‘Wise-Advice Sessions’ where we will try to bring very seasoned leaders from different organizations in Geneva and abroad, who would share insights on how to take decisions in tough times and what it means to be a leader. The people who are already here working at Geneva have a lot to offer, especially the alumni who are already at senior positions. The third component, also my personal favorite, would be true-story movie sessions on leadership, along with post-movie reflection sessions where we would deliberate on what were the qualities of the leader shown in the movie – how was that person talking, bringing people together or negotiating, how was that person managing self while trying to navigate the complexities of the world. I think such a comprehensive program will help a lot of people at the Institute.

I also aim to organize in-depth job skills workshops. Beyond what is currently organized by the career services, specific hands-on workshops need to be organized to help prepare for competency-based interviews, case-study interviews, negotiating your salary, etc. Also, mock interviews would be organized to give you a feel of the pressure of the interview environment, and how to come up with answers on the spot, things like that. 

I would also aim to give more structure to the professional guidance webinars already being organized by PDC. I would try to invite a wide variety of organizations and professionals from diverse fields. Especially, to cater to the needs of the people who are in disciplinary programs, because I think a lot of focus is on the interdisciplinary programs and the needs of the disciplinary programs are kind of side-lined.

Finally, I would like to organize alumni meetings more frequently in addition to the one which the Institute organizes in September. So, one more in November and one in April or May. This would help the students engage better with the alumni who are already based in Geneva.

These are my five initiatives which I would like to work on as PDC President. I am always open to even more ideas, and would like to regularly consult fellow students to understand what they want from the PDC. 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts.

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