This is the first in a series of short interviews with former students of our masters course, through which we aim to trace their career paths since graduating and offer a glimpse of their current experiences working in the areas of architecture, urban planning and development.
Our first interview is with George Kassab, one of the program’s earliest students, who came to Barcelona as second-year student with the Mundus Urbano program from TU Darmstadt. Thank you George!
Name: George Kassab
Class of: 2010
Occupation: Architect / Urban Designer / Emergency Preparedness and Response Officer
Current location: Rome
Area of interest/specialty: Accessible/Inclusive cities; cosmopolitan development
Life goal: To enjoy life and be satisfied with my accomplishments
Professional goal: To participate in my areas of interest
1. What have you been working on since graduating from the masters program?
Since graduating until my current job:
Proposal Officer with The Global Fund in Geneva (5 months)
Deputy Team Leader / Early Warning Analyst with UN World Food Programme in Rome (2 years)
Emergency Reports Officer with UN World Food Programme in Beirut (2 months)
Architect and Urban Consultant in Beirut (4 months)
Emergency Preparedness and Response Officer with UN World Food Programme in Rome (current)
2. How/when did you become interested in development issues in the first place?
I’ve always been fascinated by city dynamics, and I became more interested in urban development when I started feeling the burden that my hometown (Beirut) lacks accessible public spaces.
3. What does your current job/project entail?
Currently I am working with the Director of Emergencies on the overall project management of the organization-wide Preparedness and Response Enhancement Programme. This involves developing project strategies and initiatives to enhance corporate preparedness and response; analyzing operational/programmatic and situational information and developing technical documents for internal/external audiences; and assisting in the development and implementation of inter-departmental and inter-agency preparedness and response thematic activities.
4. In what ways do you feel the master prepared you for the work you are doing now?
The Mundus Urbano program provided me with a rich international milieu (from instructors and students alike) for learning the different ways localities and cultures perceive development and cooperation.
5. In your experience so far, what do you see as the major obstacles to sustainable urban development?
In my experience, there has been a regression in urban development (both in the Global South and North), mainly on a socio-cultural level, due to an increase in the solidification of national and cultural identities, which often becomes an obstacle to accessibility. Or perhaps we can just blame the financial crisis??
If you have any questions for George or would like to expand the conversation, let us know in the comments section! In the meantime, stay tuned for more alumni interviews!