Alumni Profiles

Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Doctor of Philosophy

Program Analyst and Information Coordinator, Oil Search Health Foundation.

“After completing a Master’s degree in public international law as well as in peace and conflict studies, an emerging interest in human security and resource scarcity brought to me to CISS. It was foremostly the Centre’s strong track-record on non-traditional security issues that attracted my interest, but the professors’ proactive engagement with real-time developments in the international security realm really spearheaded my pursuit to complete a PhD at CISS.

When I first discussed plans for a PhD at the Centre in early 2009, the world was in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 Global Food Price Crisis. One of the key aftereffects identified by CISS was the sudden proliferation of so-called ‘land grabs’ throughout Africa and South-East Asia. Within weeks of first contact my PhD topic was shaping up beautifully, and by August that same year I officially enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy with CISS.

During the following four years that I worked on my thesis, the Centre’s staff, lecturers and professors showed great collegiality and made sure that I felt part of the interesting security community they make up. Being part of the first doctoral student cohorts at CISS, I encountered some systems and procedures that had to be pioneered. But the Centre’s director and my supervisor leveraged their positions to support me at every stage of the process.

The relationship with my supervisor was exemplary. His non-directive and personal style of supervision, as well as his formidable academic experience, were invaluable in the preparation of my thesis. When I planned to spend six months in Kenya to complete a case study for my thesis, my supervisor was highly supportive of my fieldwork plans and helped out where possible.

The entire process of completing a Doctor of Philosophy at CISS was a highly enjoyable and thought-provoking experience. In the end, it is not about the outcome of obtaining a PhD but instead about the process of getting there.”

Felix Eldridge

Master of International Security

Communications Officer with UN Women East & Horn of Africa.

"In my current position I work across 9 countries to promote and support the work of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. My work includes writing briefings, advising on communications strategy, producing materials and online content, organising events, and documenting the work of our Country Offices and partner NGOs.

Choosing CISS was one of the best decisions I ever made. Working in Africa for an international organisation seemed like an impossible dream, but at CISS, many of my lecturers and fellow students were also practitioners. Being around people who were once in my position, I could suddenly see how I could do it too.

Countries in this region face complex, interrelated challenges. The broad approach to security and development taken by the CISS has helped me to understand the relationships between security, economics, governance and of course, gender equality and women’s empowerment. I think CISS also taught me to try and keep an open mind and leave my assumptions at the door.

I loved undergraduate study, but I'd had enough abstract theory and circular moral equivalence. The Master of International Security is practically-focused and grounded in the here and now. Students are encouraged to have opinions and to apply theoretical frameworks to contemporary events. Discussing international political issues as they unfolded, with a class full of well-informed people, was a real privilege. I found CISS faculty members inspiring, approachable, and supportive. The degree is well-structured and the Centre has a real sense of community and collegiality."

Eliane Coates

Master of International Security

Senior Analyst at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.

"My main focus since I began in June 2012 has been to assist the Head and Deputy Head of CENS in their respective research on radicalisation and social resilience, as well as help organise conferences, such as the CENS' flagship annual event APPSNO (Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers). We also hold regular conferences on social media analytics, cyber security, radicalisation, and social resilience.

My personal research at CENS focuses on Myanmar, in particular the Muslim ethnic minority 'Rohingya'. I have lectured on this topic at the National University of Singapore, done live TV interviews on Channel News Asia (Singapore), as well as published RSIS commentaries about various aspects of this issue, including asylum seekers and security threats to Southeast Asia. I am also in the process of trying to publish a joint journal article with the Head of CENS on Rohingya and radicalisation in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

My Master of International Security greatly assisted in attaining my current position. Obtaining a Masters at CISS demonstrated to my employer my strong work ethic and capacity to research and analyse a range of complex issues linked to international security. CISS also offered an important platform to begin making networks within the field. I have also been published in the Australian, East Asia Forum (ANU), The Nation (Thailand), The Jakarta Post and TODAY (Singapore).

I would highly recommend postgraduate study at CISS. The opportunity to study amongst leading researchers in the field of international security is an invaluable experience. The dedication of the professors to their students, the range of subjects offered, and the opportunity to obtain a postgraduate degree from a highly reputable university makes CISS a place worthy of postgraduate study."

Jerry Hofhuis

Master of International Security

Defence Intern, International Security Program at Lowy Institute for International Policy.

"As a Defence Intern at the Lowy Institute, I assist the Military Fellow in a research assistant capacity. The internship has been fantastic; an excellent opportunity for me to stay in Australia and gain practical experience in security studies.

The exposure at the Lowy Institute has been incredible. Attending roundtables with some of Australia’s foremost strategic thinkers—many of whom have produced work considered essential reading at CISS—has afforded me an invaluable insight into how policy is formulated at the strategic level. There have been practical benefits as well. I have learned to work in an environment that is very deadline driven, while at the same time demanding of great attention to detail and accuracy.

From monitoring the reporting on ISAF operations in Afghanistan, to policy analysis on counter-piracy activities in the Indian Ocean, I have drawn upon knowledge and skills developed at CISS. I did my Master by coursework and I would argue that the courses you pick definitely matter in defining your career path. My research interests—which I could tangibly prove through my course selection, as well as essay topics—aided me without a doubt in securing this internship.

I look back with great fondness at my time at CISS. The professors and lecturers were excellent. The (often-organised) guest seminars also provided invaluable insights into the field and helped me shape a feel for where I could end up one day.

CISS was also fantastic for the people. Sydney University and CISS attract some of the best and brightest professors and students, which make for an incredibly supportive and encouraging environment. I made some of the best friends I have ever had and many of my cohort still regularly catch up, a year after graduating.

Once my internship with the Lowy Institute draws to an end, I will likely head overseas in pursuit of career opportunities in international security. I hear that Singapore and London are good places to start looking, and with a Master in International Security from the University of Sydney, I’m confident things will work out."

Dylan Constantine

Master of International Security

Crisis and Security Consultant, Control Risks Group.

"I began my studies at the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) in 2009 while I was working at the ABC as a radio producer after a number of years serving as a soldier in the Australian Army. After getting settled in my new career I was seeking a tertiary course that would somehow allow me to bring together my skills developed in the military and journalism. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with the degree, or even what sort of course would match my skills. I discovered CISS online and while the available courses were exactly what I was looking for, the idea of combining a demanding job with the challenges of postgraduate study was initially a daunting prospect.

After discussing my interest in the course and my background with the staff at CISS it was suggested I begin my tertiary studies with a Certificate IV, and then consider proceeding through a diploma and a Masters, depending on how I went. It turned out to be the thin end of the wedge and two years later I graduated with a Master’s Degree with Merit in International Security.

Beginning post graduate study in such an unorthodox fashion turned out to be the perfect fit and it allowed me to pace the course and expand and contract my workload as required. It was difficult to develop the skills to study at postgraduate level, particularly in the early stages, but the enthusiasm of the lecturers, and the utterly absorbing course content, provided plenty of motivation to see it through. In retrospect, while I complained long and loud to any friends and family that would listen about how hard it was to juggle work and postgraduate study, spending a Saturday in the library studying Pakistani demographics, or sitting in lecture on a Thursday night arguing over the future of the Asia Pacific, was a great experience.

After graduating in 2011 and a well-deserved holiday, I worked for a few months in the Department of Defence in the Strategic Policy Division. I have since moved back to Sydney and into the private sector to work as a consultant for Control Risks, a global consultancy that advises business, governments and NGOs on political, security and integrity risks. The Masters has been a real advantage in my current position, which demands flexibility, critical thinking, and an in-depth understanding of current political and security risks. The Masters of International Security was the ideal vehicle to not only carry out my half-baked idea of somehow bringing together my experiences in the military and journalism, but it has also allowed me to use my fascination with international affairs to put my career on a path that I’ll hopefully be enjoying for years to come."