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From International Relations to combatting financial crime

Vivian Ng came back to Leiden last June to finally sign the walls of the Sweat Room. Graduated in 2020 during the pandemic, she missed out on this wonderful tradition, like so many others. While enjoying a day off in Leiden, we talked about her time as a student and her current job.

Vivian, why did you choose the Global Political Economy specialization of the MA in International Relations?

‘I have always been interested in how political decisions affect the economy. I personally love the humanities-based approach Leiden University takes when teaching Global Political Economy, and the variety of electives offered. The possibility to specialize in a region and/or a topic of your choice was perfect for me to combine my interests and career prospects. In my case, I was particularly interested in the connection between politics and illegality in Southeast Asia and Europe. Although it is a niche topic, professors at Leiden University have the expertise and I was able to grow and develop my knowledge in this area - eventually, I achieved my goal to land a job in the financial crime field.’

That sounds interesting! Please tell us more about your current position.

‘I currently work as a Forensic and Financial Crime Consultant at Deloitte Nederland. I analyze financial crime risks, give advice and implement solutions in risks related to money-laundering, sanctions, terrorist financing and tax evasion. All these topics are closely related to Global Political Economy, as they are mostly the result of political decisions and political ideologies. My team consists of forensic accountants, lawyers, criminologists and data scientists. However, as a Global Political Economy graduate, I have the advantage of understanding these political dynamics very well and this helps my investigative work tremendously!’

Can you elaborate on the skills you learned during your time at Leiden?

‘I am often approached by my clients with different problems related to financial crime. In order to solve these problems, I must apply a high level of analytical skill and possess the ability to select and process complex information. This is no different from how I proposed my thesis to my supervisor back at Leiden. First, I zoom out to have a helicopter view of the problem; second, I process all available data; third, I draw main points and come up with a plan of approach; lastly, I present my proposal to my managers and clients to receive feedback before any implementation.’

Looking back, what’s your favorite memory of Leiden?

‘The Humanities Buddy Programme is definitely my favorite memory of my time in Leiden, as it brought so much laughter and color to my life here. As an international student, this was the perfect way for me to get to know new friends and Leiden as a city. In the first semester, I took part in the programme as a participant. I was paired with a buddy who assisted me in integrating into Leiden and the University. During the second semester, I was chosen to be the Humanities Buddy Programme Coordinator. I organized plenty of events, such as a bike tour around local tulip fields, museum visits and social events, all for the participants. It was tremendous fun and I highly recommend this programme to everyone, especially international students!’

Do you have tips for current or prospective students?

‘Sure! I benefited a lot from the workshops provided by the Career Service Humanities. From CV/LinkedIn checks to interview workshops, I not only learnt about all the do's and don'ts of job hunting, but also the strengths and points of improvement about myself. So, make sure to check out their programme!’

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