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How did you get to where you are now?

I am a Human Geographer working in the infrastructure development field to deliver sustainable infrastructure solutions in partnership with governments in Africa. Whilst at Durham University I completed my undergraduate dissertation on railway infrastructure in East Africa which led to me joining my current organisation as a researcher. 

What do you do as part of your role?  

A typical week in London will include meetings, calls and research to develop infrastructure proposals. This involves conversations with stakeholders, government agencies, environmental management professionals and funding partners to ensure that my firm can deliver sustainable rural infrastructure solutions. My role varies day-to-day which I really enjoy!

I frequently travel to Africa to meet with clients and stakeholders, conduct site visits and attend conferences. I also occasionally conduct research on projects that have been completed so that we can find out about the impact of our projects and how we can improve them in the future.

How does geography feature in your work?

I frequently use skills I acquired through my degree, including mapping, land use surveys and research methods for example interviews, questionnaires, discourse analysis and ethnographies. Studying geography helped me to understand cultures, which in my current role has helped me to build better relationships with clients.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy visiting new places and meeting new people, as well as being exposed to new customs and cultures. It makes every day and every place in which I have worked unique.

The highlight of my career was conducting fieldwork in Zambia to examine the social and economic impact of the healthcare facilities we had delivered. Being able to visit communities and see people using the hospital that we played a part in delivering makes the work very rewarding.

What are your working arrangements? 

I am mainly based in London, with the flexibility to work from home or in the office. I like to work from the office at least three days a week so I can interact with people from different teams – this helps me to get an understanding of the different jobs in the business and how they all connect.

We are not always sat at a desk and are frequently on the road or on site. We also travel to projects in Africa, sometimes just for a few days and sometimes as long as a few months.

What are the opportunities for career progression? 

There are various opportunities for career development including Project Management and Controls, Infrastructure Development Consultancy, Specialist Advisory, Bid Management and Specialist Sales. The nature of my work is varied which means that there are lots of opportunities for career progression across the industry.

What opportunities are there in your role to make a difference?

In my role you often feel like you are making a difference. We employ local people, provide incomes into rural areas and provide much needed infrastructure, coupled with a commitment to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and environmental protection.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to go in to this career?

Work out what you enjoy and what you want to get out of your career. It’s important to do something you enjoy and find interesting rather than what you simply see as a job. Not every career is right for everyone and it’s important to realise this and not be scared to try something and not enjoy it.

Why did you choose geography? Why should others choose geography?

I chose geography because I was interested in the world around me and passionate about understanding the issues that face people and societies. I was interested to see where further study could take me as there are so many different possibilities, options and career paths. Studying geography can develop a range of soft and hard skills which can be used in solving some of the most challenging issues we face as a world today, both human and physical.



* This interview was undertaken in 2023 and was correct at the time of publication. Please note that the featured individual may no longer be in role, but the profile has been kept for career pathway and informational purposes.


Kavi Gilani

Job title: Business Development Officer

Organisation: NMS Infrastructure Limited

Location: London