UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Meet the future of public value: Spotlight on MPA student…Riedwaan Fakier

10 December 2020

Introducing Riedwaan Fakier, 2020-21 Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). We get to know more about him, while discussing public value and why he chose IIPP and our MPA.


What were you doing before you joined the IIPP MPA?
I was doing a Masters (MSc) in Strategy and Innovation at Maynooth University in Ireland. I was/am also the current head of Digital and Marketing at a South African Sport and Educational non-profit called Sports Skills for Life Skills (SS4LS).

Why did you choose to apply to the IIPP MPA?
My background is predominantly within the private sector and technology, and over the years I have developed a keen interest to get into the public sector and provide solutions that can benefit the public. I somehow came across the IIPP MPA and it felt like an instant match to my values and what I want to contribute to society!

What challenges or topics around innovation, public policy and public value concern/interest you the most?
Every week there seems to be a new interest which is good, but needs to be managed. I am particularly interested in looking at technology and using it to solve socio-economic problems in developing countries like South Africa. So how can we use things like virtual reality to address the lack of infrastructure within the country and then how can we use it for upskilling to address specific skills shortages in the country. I am also interested in how we can create policies to resuscitate the public infrastructure such as transport and energy within South Africa. 

What do you hope to get out of the IIPP MPA?
To be able to create public value for South Africa, it’s citizens and other developing countries. There are also many like-minded individuals in the MPA so it’s a great opportunity for us to put our heads together and create solutions to the problems our people struggle with on a daily basis.

Why do you believe it is important that we change how public value is imagined, practised and evaluated?
There is a misconception that value comes only from the private sector and that the public sector is useless (I will put my hand up and say that I was aligned to this school of thought before). Yes public sector is not perfect, and depending on which country you come from you can see the blatant corruption from public “servants” and it seems to continue for forever, but the private sector is not an angel either. However the public sector has the ability to shape how the country is run and create value that can reach all of its citizens, which has a massive impact on the quality and types of lives that they can live. Looking at technologies or GPT’s, the public sector is often the one who invests heavily initially in bringing the technology from idea to reality. These technologies then find their ways into radical or incremental innovations and create new products that are beneficial to society but the private sector takes all the credit. I think we need to realise the role of public sector in being the foundation of the country or state and then see all the initiatives and programmes that come through the foundation and how that foundation supports and develops the livelihoods of the countries ecosystem.

What is your favourite album, film or novel?
To be honest I don’t have a favourite. I appreciate different things from everything I listen to, watch or read.

If you had to remove one social media app from your phone, which would one would it be and why?
If you classify YouTube as social media, then its YouTube. The algorithms have my number and I can spend hours falling (aware that I’m wasting time) for the YouTube videos in my feed. Although there is also some good content on there, so I guess I just have to create a new account and manipulate my feed to play informative videos.

Who would be your top three dream dinner guests (dead or alive)? 

steve biko
Malcolm X
MAlcolm x
Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern

If your fellow MPA students were to visit you in your city, where would you take them and what is a local dish they would have to try?
I’d take them to Table Mountain in Cape Town and they’d have to try a Gatsby (geba) and a koesister (maybe a milk tart too).

What is your life motto?
I don’t really have a motto, but something that rings close is, “You will never find contentment if you worry about the what ifs” – Riedwaan Fakier


Learn more about Riedwaan

Learn more about the IIPP MPA