BA in Global Affairs

Manal Bougazzoul, 2011

Manal Bougazzoul

What work are you doing now?

I am currently working at the Washington DC office of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company by production. I spent a couple of years working in the Economics and Government Relations function, then moved to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work and started exploring the field through my involvement in one of the company’s major CSR projects in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, an educational and cultural institution due to open in 2016.

What do you like about it?

The most engaging part of my job is exposure to people and ideas. Because my job requires conducting research and attending policy conferences and think-tank events in Washington DC, it offers a unique opportunity to meet and learn from experts in their fields, and stay informed about relevant issues to the company as well as to my personal and professional interests. Topics from the politics and economics of oil to impact-measurement of cultural institutions in the Middle East are examples of projects I’ve enjoyed working on. I also find the global nature of the company to be quite exciting as it has offered me the opportunity to engage with colleagues from a wide range of backgrounds, to travel and to learn how business is conducted in other parts of the world.

How did your degree in the college prepare you to do this work?

My undergraduate degree at Mason in GLOA with concentrations in Middle East and North African Affairs and Global Governance was instrumental to my success in my current role: it laid the foundation for my knowledge of the history, politics, economics and culture of the region and equipped me with research and writing skills vital to the work I do. The interdisciplinary nature of the program was also key in helping me develop a wider awareness of global processes and issues/debates – a quality necessary to thrive as a professional in a multinational.

What advice would you give current students about developing their careers?

From my brief experience, I think a rewarding job is not a linear pursuit. I would recommend current students to relentlessly explore their interests, connect with people they admire and learn as much from what works as from what doesn’t. Also, one piece of advice I like to recycle is that learning and growth most definitely involve pushing out of one’s comfort zone.