May 28 2013

Featured Alumni: Ebba Dohlman (MSc in IR, 1977, and PhD in IR, 1985)

Ebba Dohlman
MSc in International Relations (1977)
PhD in International Relations (1985)

Ebba Dohlman is currently Senior Advisor to the Office of the Secretary-General, Policy Coherence for Development, OECD

Ebba Dohlman

Ebba Dohlman

Having received my MSc in 1977 and a PhD in 1985, it was literally decades ago that I was in London and beavering away in the LSE library, riding my bike through London, and having coffee in Wright’s Bar on Houghton Street.  But with a summer reunion coming up, I find myself thinking back to that time which was transformative in so many ways. My “home” was in the International Relations department where I focused particularly on the political economy perspectives that Susan Strange was launching, but I also followed courses on development and the economics of international trade policy. The beauty of the IR programme was that it allowed for breadth, depth and flexilbility depending on interest. The combination of subjects proved useful in pursuing my PhD thesis on the Multi-fibre Arrangement and the incoherence of international textile trade policy, and it helped shape my subsequent professional directions. The LSE was immensely stimulating intellectually, not only because of the quality of the programmes and teaching but also because of the diversity of international student community. There was so much going on politically in those years, in parts of Asia and Latin America, and in the UK itself. Being amidst a student body that felt deeply engaged in and affected by these changes was eye-opening, particularly for someone having had a relatively protected upbringing in Sweden and suburban Boston.  Throughout all the learning, there was tremendous bonding which led to deep and lasting friendships as well as an excellent network of professional contacts.

When I left the LSE, the reform of the Multi-fibre Arrangement was high on the international trade agenda, particularly as more and more developing countries were joining the GATT (later WTO).  My PhD topic therefore helped me get my first jobs – at the GATT, at UNCTAD as well as at a Swedish civil society organisation working on trade in textiles and clothing .  I found I liked the policy work dealing with international challenges and felt that the LSE had prepared me well for this type of work. I subsequently landed a job at the OECD in 1985 where I have been ever since – (and where I met my husband and raised three kids). The OECD, like the LSE, is highly multicultural and stimulating. In fact there are many LSE graduates here including from the IR department. When I started, I was in the Trade Directorate but have since worked in the Development Co-operation Directorate, in the Heiligendamm- l’’Aquila Support Unit hosted by the OECD for the G8 – G5 dialogue, which preceded the G20 process, and in the Secretary-General’s Office where I am senior advisor on development. My biggest challenge in these past few years has been coordinating a whole of OECD effort to elaborate and implement OECD’s Strategy on Development.

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