Alumnus on tackling COVID-19, education in the digital era

Maudo Jallow, Associate at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, spoke to Regent’s as part of the Alumni Interview Series.

Regent’s alumnus, Maudo Jallow, is part of an important community of people tackling COVID-19 worldwide. As an associate of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Maudo’s role is to offer advisory support to the Ghanaian government. In March 2020, he was deployed, along with his colleague, to assist the government’s pandemic taskforce in Accra.

‘It is amazing and exhilarating to have such a direct impact in shaping the trajectory of the country I grew up in, not only in confronting the COVID-19 threat but also planning and building for the long-term future.’

At just 26, Maudo has already achieved a lot. After graduating from Regent’s with a BA (Hons) International Business with Economics and French degree, Maudo completed an MSc African Development at LSE and undertook various internships in Switzerland, Uganda and The Gambia. He then joined the United Nations at the headquarters in New York for a year, before moving to Ghana to work with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in May 2019. 

Although the pandemic is the main priority for many governments, for Maudo, it shouldn’t be the only focus. 

‘The pandemic isn’t the only global threat or challenge that we face, and frustratingly we are seeing countries and organisations kicking the can down the road on other serious problems.’

Alongside his work on COVID-19, Maudo is dedicated to tackling these ongoing challenges, which have fallen out of the Western media narrative. Challenges such social and racial justice, climate change, inequalities between national economies, and the immediate demand for socio-economic systems that work for the majority. 

On this last issue, Maudo explains:

‘Creating economies that deliver results for people outside of the global 1% is where the West is being challenged and indeed replaced by China and the Belt and Road foreign policy programme.

‘The immediate challenges of COVID-19 are causing developed nations to retract and look inwards. This inevitably threatens the livelihoods of developing regions, which are reliant on supply chains and foreign investment, not to mention the burden of debt from buying extra medical supplies. Such disruption to the global economy destabilises the food security of whole regions, and the implications of hunger and starvation could be catastrophic.’

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change seeks to ‘help make globalisation work for the many, not the few’. Maudo’s advisory work has also contributed to the Institute’s Africa Economic Response Team, with his advanced analytical work contributing to the battle to resolve many issues facing the African continent.

He credits Regent’s and his study year abroad at the Solvay Business School in Brussels for sparking his fascination and commitment to international development. 

‘My Solvay experience was a wake-up call. I was surrounded by high-flying European executives, and I felt I needed to up my game. I brought that focus and motivation back to Regent’s, which helped me launch my career and take me to where I am today.’

For Maudo, having a direct impact on the Ghanaian government’s COVID-19 policy and other issues is a humbling experience but one that demands the best of yourself.

‘Every day you must pull your weight, contribute, and really buy in to what you’re doing. When such issues as economic sustainability, industrial infrastructure and food security are the pressing topics, it’s hard not to be motived and driven.’

When asked about what advice he might offer to Regent’s students and recent graduates, Maudo’s suggestions are equally timeless and highly relevant in today’s current climate: 

‘Digital platforms are very important, and students should be relentless in positioning themselves online. They must have a thirst for knowledge and quality content, and also know who the key figures are in their industries. Humans are social animals, so make sure you connect, and be responsive and present. Luckily, Regent’s students understand the value of networks and connecting.

‘My younger brother has just graduated and has experienced both a disrupted education and difficult job market. Yet I want to make this a positive message, so I would say try to turn the disadvantages into opportunities. Instead of commuting, spend that time studying, and pick up new habits such as networking, listening to podcasts and reading more. Frame your disrupted degree to develop vital new skills like remote working, distance learning and digital engagement.

‘The world is now better connected than ever, and remote and online working is going to remain the dominant way of life for some time. Today’s students and tomorrow’s graduates will be the best-equipped generation to harness this digital pivot.’