Felipe Rivera Sanin, MSc Environment and Development alumni

Felipe Rivera Sanin


What have you been doing since finishing your studies? 

After completing my Master’s degree, I took several months to travel around the world, and then returned home to Colombia. A couple of months after my arrival, I started working on short consultancy project related to the design of a long-term financing strategy for the National System of Protected Areas. Afterwards, I had the chance to enrol in the Humboldt Institute, the national research institute for biodiversity.

The Humboldt Institute is a non-profit civil corporation linked to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, and plays predominant role in the science-policy-society interface as a generator of knowledge for informed decision making. My role in the Institute as a Senior professional is to support the formulation of research projects, coordinate the development of institutional concepts and responses, and to support the strategic and management processes for the Research directorate.


What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?

Given my previous background as an engineer in management consulting, the environmental sector was absolutely new to me. In this sense, the experience at Leeds was transformative for my career. Mainly, the environment and development field course in Tanzania helped me to understand the complexities of field research involving communities, as well as completing my dissertation gave me meaningful insights into the research process. These experiences served me to transit into the environmental sector, to better understand how to effectively cooperate with researchers, and finally to strengthen my role as project manager and planner.

Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

After looking at several programmes around the UK, the Leeds MSc in Environment and Development stood out for its interdisciplinary approach, and flexibility. Also, a very important aspect for me was the critical approach to development, which gave me the opportunity to challenge ideas and frameworks. Also, I found the Earth and Environment faculty very interests given their significant experience in governance and conservation in developing countries, including Colombia.


What was the best aspect of your course?

From beginning to end, I was thrilled to share the experience with amazing course mates from all around the world, coming from such varied backgrounds. The course itself was challenging and inspiring, and allowed me to build a strong foundation for enrolling in the environmental sector. One of the highlights was definitely field course in Tanzania, where a group of us performed environment and development field research projects in the East Usambara Mountains.

What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

I was part of the LUUHC – Leeds University Union Hiking Club, as well as the LUUMC - Leeds University Union Mountaineering and Climbing Club. With them, I had the opportunity to travel around the UK, getting to know amazing people and places. Also, I enjoyed practicing rock climbing in the EDGE, the University’s gym. And lastly, I enjoyed Yorkshire’s pub culture with my course mates.


What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?

I absolutely recommend studying at Leeds. My best advice is to organize your time from the start, so you can make the best of the academic side of the year,  as well as to fully enjoy the student life, sharing with amazing people and living great experiences in Yorkshire and the UK.