Saief Mahmood headshot
Saief Mahmood, Senior Policy Analyst, Global Affairs Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada  

Saief Mahmood’s life and career have been shaped by his searching intelligence, warm personality, and extraordinary world view. The son of two dedicated teachers, Saief was born in a tiny village named Dhamura in southern Bangladesh, and was determined to use education as a path out of his village and into the world of effecting change. With the encouragement of his parents, he won acceptance to high school and university in Dhaka, his country’s capital city. After graduation, he went to work conducting research for the Private Sector Finance team of the World Bank. Saief then pursued his interest in policy in Canada, where he gained significant experience in developing policy options, briefing notes, recommendations and more while working as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Canadian government.

Choosing a Challenge
Saief chose Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Leadership Credential program to expand his knowledge of policy. “I always had an interest in Harvard, and when I saw that Harvard Kennedy School was starting this online program–and this was during COVID, when we were all working from home–it made sense. This was a chance to meet exceptionally brilliant minds from around the world, both faculty and my peers, and to grow by challenging my own thinking, my own beliefs, and values,” he said. 

Putting Lessons to Work Immediately
Saief found that he could apply lessons from his PLC coursework and discussions to his career immediately. “I was working on a policy paper within the Government of Canada and found my coursework very transferable. Two weeks after I learned it, I shared the theory of policy triangulation with my colleagues, which we applied to our work. I also used learning from my evidence courses when I worked on Canada’s Indo Pacific Strategy, using facts and trends to highlight various aspects of the Strategy. I found the PLC program to be a great blend of theoretical and practical learning.”

Why Should you Consider Harvard’s PLC Program?
Saief offers three reasons: “One: it can change your perspective in a positive way – helping you realize how things look through the eyes of others and gaining more empathy for them. Two: it gives you the ability to meet truly exceptional people who become lifelong friends. Three: for what it is, it’s not really expensive - the value is outstanding.”

He also thinks completing the PLC can be just the beginning of your future of lifelong learning. “If you’re never satisfied with what you know and want to keep learning, it’s a great place to be. The program can help you open your windows and doors to what’s next, lead you to bigger, better things, and be a cornerstone for your future.”

PLC Changed His Perspective and His Position
“Every new learning opportunity can lead to a new mission or quest,” Saied added. “Mine has led me to work on Canada’s Indo Pacific Strategy and now on climate finance for the Canadian government. Climate change affects us all, disproportionately vulnerable groups, like the villagers in Bangladesh, and I want to give something back, to design and implement policy that changes life for the better.”