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Early Graduates in IR: Yousef Atti

In this Career Spotlight, we have the pleasure of speaking with recent master's graduate Yousef Atti about his dedication to interdisciplinary endeavours, his unique educational journey in Australia and abroad, and his former position as consultant at the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Yousef holds two master degrees, a masters in Education and International Development from UCL’s IOE and a Masters of International Business from the University of Sydney, where he was nominated to Beta Gemma Sigma Honor Society for Academic Excellence, graduating from both with distinction. He is currently undertaking his third masters in International Law. Yousef also holds a Graduate Diploma from Université de Genève in Aviation Environmental Sustainability. Yousef completed his bachelors with a major in Finance and Economics, graduating as the youngest in his cohort. He has visited 40 countries and lived in 10.

Yousef has completed internships in Etihad Airways, Corporate Security Department and in Deloitte Risk Advisory. He was previously working in the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) and the United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA). Most recently he was a research consultant with the Australia-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

You have an extensive academic background, including two master’s degrees and a third one being undertaken right now. Could you elaborate on your undergraduate and postgraduate journey?

My educational journey as a whole has been guided by my interest in pursuing doctoral studies involving a nexus of various disciplines. I had always considered economics, international law, and education to influence and be influenced by a State’s international relations and therefore I felt that pursuing an unorthodox academic pathway would assist in enlarging my epistemic background. In turn, that would enable me to pursue different career paths while holding different skill sets and a diverse knowledge base. Most importantly, however, was the dynamism of thought I was awarded through following this path. In that sense, I had always known that I did not want to study a streamlined path.

To illustrate, if I was examining a particular dilemma, instead of viewing it through the lens of one discipline, I am able to approach the problem through a holistic approach wherein I can further improve my proposed solution through self-reflection and critique because I can rely on an integrated reference base.

As you approached your graduation in the final year of your degrees, how did you prepare for it and what emotions did you experience? Did it vary considerably between the degrees?

Graduation is always an exciting time. You are finally entering the domain where you determine your individualised path and that is always how I viewed it, that one door led to the other. 

Each degree has been a journey on its own. I always considered what my next step might be, but at the same time, I tried to surprise myself with future endeavours because I believe that is really important; opening yourself up to the possibilities of uncertainty and being outside your comfort zone. I consider doing so to be one of life’s greatest lessons and that is why I pursued internships in different fields, to give myself the opportunity to utilise my ability in unfamiliar contexts and truly apply what I learned through my degrees.

What experiences or moments helped you identify your passion in international affairs, and how did you pursue it throughout and after university?

I have been privileged enough to live and visit many different countries so international affairs has always been a heavy interest. Having experienced a diversity of culture and thought, I have come to the persuasion that international affairs is entrenched in most, if not all, social sciences. Let us consider a university. Firstly, it is an institution, both from the educational sense and the economic sense. It attracts international students into a State and exposes them to the host State’s perspectives, in some sense, a projection of soft power all while contributing to the economy. In essence, that interaction is a fragment of international affairs.

I have pursued my passion through working with the UN and the AACCI and of course travelling as much as I can!

What motivated you to join the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI)? What has been your favorite aspect about working in this field and what’s something that you didn’t anticipate?

I have been grateful for the opportunity to work for the Chamber. It was a great experience as I had tacit knowledge of both markets and the ability to apply my knowledge was alluring to me in pursuing a career with the Chamber.

The Chamber does important work in facilitating two-way trade between Australia and countries in the Arab League since the certification services provide increased consumer confidence and increased consumer awareness of the high quality products we have here in Australia.

For example, in 2021-2022 the United Arab Emirates alone was the second largest import destination of Australian livestock. The key point is however is that there is large market interdependence in the Arab league, so wherever the livestock is exported afterwards from the UAE or any other destination, both the supplier and buyer can be confident in a premium Australian product as that is what an AACCI certification implies, notwithstanding the certification’s guarantee of food safety regulations. 

Moreover, we can not underestimate how valuable an AACCI certification is to a small and medium Australian enterprise (SME) vying for entry into the developing Arab League market especially since this market is reliant on reputation and such a stamp allows both easy and improved access into the market for our SMEs here.

Tell us more about your responsibilities and your typical workday as a Consultant at the AACCI!

The bulk of my responsibilities involved producing a research paper for the AACCI on trade and investment between Australia and a few countries in the Arab League in a specific sector. Furthermore, I undertook certification training through essCert and participated in stakeholder engagement through various means.

Lastly, what are your tips for balancing work and postgraduate studies?

  • Acknowledge yourself and the effort you are undertaking

  • Rationalise and recognise your motivation 

  • Cultivate a support network

  • When it gets difficult, remember, you are almost there! 


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