Meet Pema Ugyen, featured alumnus of VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL)’s professional master programme Agricultural Production Chain Management. He graduated cum laude in 2019. Pema currently works as Senior Livestock Production Officer (District Livestock Sector) in Punakha, Bhutan.
Why did you choose to study at VHL for your masters? And why APCM?
I chose to study in the Netherlands for my masters, and in particular at VHL, as it is internationally reputable. It has a good track record on transformative learning and networking. I found the APCM course structure and subjects mentioned in the website interesting and tailored to my requirements. I wanted to focus on facilitating development and innovations in agricultural production chains and I saw that this is what APCM is about.
How is it like to live and study in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is a beautiful place with a diverse culture and is an amazingly attractive country to study. The Dutch education system is interactive which makes us develop analytical, creative thinking, team-building and practical problem-solving skills.
How would you describe your 1-year experience studying APCM?
I realised that I truly enjoyed the whole cycle of the academic programme. My expected learning objective, which is learning in-depth about sustainable value chains, was definitely achieved. I also liked the university faculty’s approach to education. They are very passionate about the course and tailors the programme to the future career of the students. There is a healthy bond between the staff and the students or graduates. That means mutual admiration, understanding, trust and team-building. I feel like there was always a positive ambiance.
What kind of competences did you gain from APCM that are most useful to you right now?
As a focal person for livestock production activities in our district, my role is to plan, coordinate and evaluate the implementation of livestock development activities. APCM has definitely enhanced my intellectual capacity and critical analysis to conduct better planning and a more efficient implementation of our programme. My VHL education helped me in critical thinking, teamwork and professionalism in my field of work. I am now competent in analysing value chains, preparing projects on value chain development and conducting applied research. I also improved my scientific writing skills. I feel that the APCM course has opened my eyes concerning sustainable value chain development. The course prepared me with knowledge, skills and abilities to facilitate “multi-stakeholder processes” for sustainable value chains.
What were your biggest challenges?
While reflecting on my experience of the learning processes at VHL, I realised that the one-year master course is intensive. The fast-paced duration of the programme limits the time to unplug and I found that challenging.
VHL is proud of being the most sustainable university of applied sciences in the Netherlands. How did you experience this when you were studying?
I experienced how VHL promotes sustainability by integrating it into education, research and management. For this, I am extremely proud that VHL has been awarded AISHE stars*** for its sustainability practices. (AISHE is the auditing instrument for sustainability in higher education.)
If you would compare your old self to your new self, what biggest difference do you see in terms of attitude and perception?
I realised that knowledge, skills and experiences are key to both career and personal development. I also realised that learning has no end date, age is just a number and I am ready to welcome new experiences and learning opportunities.