Graham Alexander Main (United Kingdom)

Master of International Customs Law and Administration – 2013

Current Job Position: Operational Manager – Crown Agents/Dogana Operational Teams, Albanian Customs Assistance Programme (ACAP) delivered by Crown Agents;

The achievement of gaining a Master’s degree in International Customs Law and Administration has had a number of positive impacts on my working role since graduating, including:

  • Establishment of credibility: Having worked internationally on “capacity building” Customs projects since 2002 I was well aware that to be “heard” by the client you need to establish your credibility. The addition of specific technical qualification to years of experience is very positive in terms of establishing a person’s credibility with local Customs Chiefs;
  • Level of employment: Having previously worked for my current employer on three International projects at the “hands on” Operational level it was clear that I had to strengthen my CV in some way if I was going to gain a higher position that would allow me to have greater influence and impact on the projects I was involved in; The Master’s degree did this for me:
    • My first role with Crown Agents after gaining my Masters was to be an integral member of the pre-deployment team that worked on the  bid phase of the ACAP project – and pre-deployment work had always been a burning ambition of mine;
    • My second role with Crown Agents after graduation is the Job I hold now – and it has allowed me great range to positively influence the ACAP Operational work – and it is probably the best job I will ever have;
  • Confidence/knowledge: prior to studying for my Masters I had a wealth of Customs knowledge and an instinctive understanding of how modern Customs should work – this came through 17 years working in UK Customs, but it was not always that easy to articulate either verbally nor in writing the reasons behind “best practice”. During the study period I kept uncovering elements of Customs that I knew but the bigger picture was also revealed to me – giving me a much better understanding of my subject and area of expertise. My current work is greatly enhanced by the fact that I now have a greater understanding of the bigger picture and I can sell that message better with both confidence and demonstrable knowledge;

In summary: I have always followed a simple ethos “there is no replacement for hard work”, and having to stretch my cerebral capacity to the limits to achieve the Masters reminded me that you can also work smart as well as hard.

One of the major lessons I have learned trying to translate the knowledge gained from 4 years study for my Masters is that utilising Academic capability can help you in your day to day work – I would say that the current project I am working on has utilised legislative knowledge more than any previous one. By that I mean that my colleagues and I have delved deeply into Albanian legislation, International Legal agreements, Customs Orders, and Albanian Customs Procedures etc. more than ever before. And this has benefited the project and the Albanian Customs authority. This really comes from having the confidence that time spent understanding Albanian legalese and time spent asking pertinent questions is time well spent.