In 10 years since graduating from BU, Luke McMillan’s career has taken him across the world to support humanitarian efforts in areas affected by conflict and natural disaster. In his latest role, he is managing the UN campaign behind an International Day of Peace.
Luke originally qualified with an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation from Bournemouth in 2009. During the course, his interest in marine life led him to take up a short internship with the Atlantic Whale Foundation. Having graduated, the charity invited him to re-join the team and Luke progressed to become Director of Programmes, travelling to Africa, Asia and Central America to protect vulnerable species.
He said: “Having been inspired by the work I was doing, I started my own NGO, Support International, which focused on assisting grassroots organisations to enable them to reach their own conservation and humanitarian goals. We worked across Indonesia, including working alongside the government to implement new programmes.”
Having built up new contacts through the NGO, he was approached to become Programmes Manager for The Society for Environmental Exploration and then by Save the Children to join its Global Assurance Team. He said: “The role involved a lot of travel to the charity’s programmes, assessing what could be done to benefit the greatest amount of people, and then coming up with and implementing strategies. I spent time in Gaza, in refugee camps across Africa and joined the emergency response in Haiti. This was by far the most challenging role I have had to date, and I was exposed to some of the most heart-breaking and heart-warming scenarios. Anyone who works in the charitable sector is big on empathy, and it can be hard to see people in situations where they have lost their homes and loved ones.”
Luke is now part of a small team managing the UN International Peace Day Campaign, which is behind the fixed calendar date, Peace Day, on 21 September. The campaign is focused on brokering cease fires and building relationships with other peace organisations around the world. As well as using the date as a focus for education, it is used to mobilise people to act peacefully on the day itself - and has resulted in 21 September becoming the greatest day of non-violence in the year.
Luke said: “The campaign ranges from working with government officials, to equipping community groups to run their own events. We have had people organising days of dance or singing, and even a football tournament in the Congo where 10,000 people came together to compete and then talk about peace. It is hugely satisfying to see and hear the impact that the campaign is having in connecting people and reducing conflict.
“I am pleased to be able to use my BU education for good and I know that there are many other BU graduates who are going out into the world and making a difference. That makes me proud, and I will always be grateful for my time at BU and what it gave me; from a qualification to friends for life.”