UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Meet the future of public value: Spotlight on MPA student…Melissa Balzan

8 January 2021

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

Melissa Balzan

What were you doing before you joined the IIPP MPA?

I have joined the MPA program as a part time student while I continue my work in sustainable development. I currently work with Save the Children International in a global strategy role, and previously worked with the United Nations Development Program and the Australian government. So far, I am enjoying studying and working side by side.

Why did you choose to apply to the IIPP MPA?

I was drawn to the bold ambition and energy of the Institute, backed by its remarkable faculty. This MPA program goes beyond the margins of good public management to actually transforming how we think about policy and the role of government, which is very inspiring and relevant. The opportunity to tap into the Institute’s Mission Oriented Innovation Network was also an important part of my decision.

What challenges or topics around innovation, public policy and public value concern/interest you the most?

My keen interest is in addressing inequalities in society and in systems thinking and design.

What do you hope to get out of the IIPP MPA?

I am looking to stimulate my personal and professional development, building knowledge and skills to help shape dynamic and purpose-driven organisations. I would like to better understand processes for structural change, including approaches to policy making. I am looking forward to learning from teachers and peers with a range of experiences, and hopefully to also myself contribute to the work of the Institute.

Why do you believe it is important that we change how public value is imagined, practised and evaluated?

How we define value determines the systems we set up to realise and maximise value. The dominant discourse on value is heavily financialised and we have stark winners and losers. Not only are we in the time that we need to morally rectify this; I also believe there is great social advancement in doing so. We are already seeing some change towards a more holistic imagining of value that embraces people, planet and prosperity; but there is still a long way to go to get the policies, governance, organisations, cultures, participation and finance in place to deliver that for every one.

If you had to remove one social media app from your phone, which one would it be and why?

Thankfully I am already limited in my use of social media apps; though I could remove Facebook to give me more of my time back.

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

michelle obama


frank sinartra


Audrey Hepburn


For a good combination of stories, advice and entertainment.

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 am originally from Sydney, Australia, so a boat ride on the harbour and an infamous Australian breakfast in the inner suburbs would be a must.

What is your life motto?

You never know where you will meet a new adventure.