“No matter where you are in the world, the IE network will never be far.”

Hannah, United States

Master in International Development

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Hannah Lahodny

About me

I grew up in a rural community in Arkansas. I’d describe myself as hyperactive, curious and always on the go. I am passionate about empowering smallholder farmers as a sustainable enabler of global food security, and I am lucky to be able to use my skills to be able to work towards this goal at the UN.

Hannah Lahodny, United States



Working towards increased global food security

Hannah used the Master in International Development to further her pursuit of her goal of working in global food production sustainability. Passionate about addressing gaps in the agricultural market and improving livelihoods of small-scale farmers, she credits her time at IE University as helping her secure her current job at the UN World Food Programme in Rwanda.

Hannah was first exposed to the field of international development while working at a nonprofit organization in the United States. During that time, working for the United Nations became an unspoken dream of hers, and the Master in International Development at IE University seemed like the stepping stone needed to get her there.

For Hannah, IE University’s relationship with the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) is what set the program apart. The practical nature of the program also appealed to her, as for her it tied in directly with the real world, with a curriculum she says is rooted in the 2030 Agenda, taught by experts and experienced practitioners. Moreover, having an undergraduate degree in Biology, she found that other schools regarded this as detrimental to her application—it seemed that international development “required” a background in social sciences. This was not the case at IE University, where Hannah says her STEM background was welcomed and celebrated as something that would bring more diversity of knowledge and experience to the cohort.

That commitment to diversity, with the result that IE University brings together people from a myriad of backgrounds, was something Hannah relished. Importantly, the program also provided her with a range of experiences that had a direct impact on her employability. She undertook her Capstone Project with the World Food Programme, for example, and completed an academic concentration with courses that included Food, Water and Land Use. The program content, together with the connections she made at IE University, meant she was well-positioned to launch exactly the career she was looking for.

A positive surprise to Hannah was how well she got to know her teachers and classmates. “The atmosphere at IE University is so collaborative and engaging,” she says, adding that she found it a privilege to learn with and from such an international group of classmates and teachers. “My time in Madrid will forever be a critical juncture in my life. The friendships made here will be lifelong connections!” she says firmly.

Hannah can now take pride in having secured a role doing exactly what she’s passionate about. A self-described global citizen, she now works in Kigali, Rwanda as a Programme Coordination Officer for the UN. Her unit supports smallholder farmers to transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture by providing information, investment and guidance at all stages of the process. And she cites the Master in International Development as key in having secured the role: “I am confident that I would not be at the United Nations World Food Programme had it not been for my time at IE University.”

According to Hannah, her time here was challenging, fulfilling and remarkable, and she will continue to leverage her IE experience for the rest of her career. She believes she will always have a connection with IE University, and we certainly look forward to following her endeavors.

“The connection to the IE community is for life.”