Farhana Rifat (Australia)
Master of Integrated Water Management (part-time/ distance)
Graduated in 2015
Why did you choose this program?
The more I was working as a civil engineer with the urban water sector, the more I realised the need to go beyond the usual engineering view on water. To advance my career in the water sector, I was looking for a Masters course in which I could explore different perspectives of water management rather than only mastering the technical side of it. The MIWM was the perfect match for my requirements.
The MIWM delivered more than what I expected. In addition to all the water management knowledge I have gained, this course has given me the aspiration to be reflective about water.
What were the best parts of the program and why?
Water management is a complex subject. Learning about what should be done is the easy part; implementing those concepts, however, is always tricky and needs different skill sets.
Real life problem-based learning (PBL) activities were the best part of this program. We had opportunities to deal with real issues from Australia and overseas during weeks of residential sessions, case studies, assignments and PBLs. The multi-disciplinary faculty and participants are another component of this course worth mentioning. Listening, sharing, and getting constructive feedback from people from a wide range of disciplines not only gave me the opportunity to validate my views, but also made me realise how important it is to consider social, political and environmental aspects in water management.
Did you enjoy studying the program part-time/distance and how did you manage to juggle study/work and other responsibilities during your studies?
Distance learning was a mandatory requirement for me as I was not based in Brisbane, and the part-time and flexible manner of this course was really helpful for me. Having a full-time job and being a full-time mom, I could not have done the course without the flexible arrangement it had offered me. I was allowed to take 1 or 2 course/s per semester depending on my other work and family commitments, and I would like to mention the tremendous support from International WaterCentre staff in this regard.
Having the flexibility I needed, it was really beneficial to undertake the study while working in my full-time job in the water industry, as I could relate to it well and apply my learning along the way.
How do you plan to use what you’ve learned in either your current job or future career?
This course enriched me with pearls of wisdom around water management and the passion to be reflective about water. It has given me an understanding of the socio-economic factors influencing water decisions, and of practice water management aiming for sustainable solutions. In terms of interpersonal skills, it helped me acquire better problem-solving and collaboration skills. It has also enhanced my influence and leadership skills.
In my current job, it is definitely helping in the strategic planning for one of the major water utility. I contributed to the development of an integrated water planning process and framework, which has been delivered through a planning guideline for the water utility and for WSAA. It’s in practice within the organisation to allow for continuous improvement and to bring about change towards an enabling environment.
Participatory planning is another aspect I am working on with the water utility to have a paradigm shift from technocratic planning approaches towards stakeholder and customer centric planning.
I am excited about my future as I can see there are lots of opportunities to improve and advance the integrated water management concept around Australia and around the globe, and I have the skills and knowledge to help bring about change.
Farhana's final project: