Before my enrolment into the MSc Urban Economic Development programme, I was working as a Business Development Specialist for a building material company in Indonesia. My job required a lot of traveling to various cities across the country. While carrying out market analyses, I became fascinated about the economic development of cities. I realized that each city has vast economic potential that is yet to be leveraged due to lack of resources. This has built my motivation to shift my career focus: from developing a business based on a city’s capacity, to developing the city itself into a better business environment.
I decided to continue my studies abroad, so I looked up MSc Urban Economic Development and learned that UCL had the perfect course. Because of my relevant goal and the uniqueness of the course, I was granted a full scholarship by the Indonesian government.
The program perfectly matched my learning expectations. The highlights for me were the core modules, Managing the City Economy and Practice in Urban Economic Development, as well as my dissertation. The first core module made me understand the key elements that create the right framework for a city economy. The second coursework gave me the opportunity to work on research projects for the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the city of Tarapoto, Peru. The London project was such an amazing experience, I never imagined working with authorities from one of the greatest cities in the world! I also learned the importance of density to optimize the economic use of urban land. The fieldtrip in Tarapoto was an amazing adventure! My project focused on entrepreneurship, and it was inspiring to see the effort and sacrifice business owners make to help their city grow.
Between the two projects, I applied to a call for evidence shared by the Graduate Teaching Assistant of the programme on land value capture (LVC) from the UK parliament and my work got published! I became intrigued with this topic as a method for funding infrastructure and decided to further research it for my dissertation. My supervisor was extremely helpful, she managed to set up interviews with key personnel from the GLA, Transport for London (TfL), and London First, and I learned London’s successful LVC practices. After finishing the program, I felt astonished with how my knowledge significantly increased in just one year!
Returning to Indonesia, I got myself active in think tanks involved in infrastructure, housing and urban development. I shared my dissertation on social media and got an offer the next day. I then applied my research as a short-term consultant for the provincial government of Jakarta. The project required me to analyse the economic needs of urban transport infrastructure and the potential of transit-oriented development as an LVC tool for funding it.
Currently, I am preparing for my next project, which is the economic impact of investing in an agrotechnology park for Yogyakarta. Luckily, I learned a lot about economic specialization in the beginning of the course and I can now make a strong opening presentation. I realized that many concepts that I learned at UCL are relatively new in Indonesia whereas extremely relevant. Knowing this makes me both excited to put my knowledge into practice and grateful that I chose MSc Urban Economic Development for my postgraduate studies.