Felicity O’Neil (Fr 2008) is a Global Partnerships Associate at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington DC. The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. Prior to heading to the US, Felicity was living and working in London before she decided to complete a Master of Public Policy at the University of Oxford. Felicity shares with us her experiences studying abroad, in addition to living in America during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please tell us a bit more about yourself – where are you originally from, and why did you choose to reside at St Andrew’s College?
I grew up in Sydney, so I am extremely privileged that my parents gave me the opportunity to live at College. Principally, my Mum thought it would be a great way to engage in some misadventure. I picked Drew’s because I heard the fun-factor and camaraderie were top-notch.
What was your favourite part/s about being at St Andrew’s?
The best part of St Andrew’s is, without a doubt, having the opportunity to be a part of a like-minded and highly-motivated community. My college friendships have sustained me beyond University life, – in Canberra, London, and now in Washington DC. I am currently writing this profile from Puerto Rico where I am enjoying a post-vaccine holiday with Iona Main, Steve Carr, and Genevieve Young (fR 10’).
How did St Andrew’s College help you achieve your goals?
Being surrounded by energetic and ambitious individuals pushed me to engage in activities beyond my comfort zone, and to broaden my career aspirations. I still draw motivation and inspiration from Androvians who are kicking goals across the workforce and around the world.
Why did you decide to do a Masters in Public Policy? Can you tell us a little bit about your experience at The University of Oxford?
I applied for master’s programs while working in London, after realising that a postgraduate qualification is almost a pre-requisite for working in Europe or America. Though, my experience at Oxford was much more enriching than the end-goal of the piece of paper. Through the Master of Public Policy, I was part of a cohort of 120 people from 49 different countries. It was such a privilege to take a year out of work to debate global policy problems and stretch my frameworks for viewing the world. I also loved the historic libraries and the stream of world-class talking-heads giving lectures around campus.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far – career or otherwise? And where do you see yourself in five years?
I’ve never been one for a five-year plan, nor is there a single achievement I’m most proud of. Instead, I’ve taken opportunities as they arise, always keeping one ‘active’ eye open for potential new adventures. At some point in the future, I could see myself returning to government in Australia in some form. We are lucky to have an excellent public service full of dedicated individuals and rewarding opportunities.
What has it been like living in the US? How are you managing at the moment during the COVID-19 pandemic? (We hope you are doing ok!)
I’ve been in Washington DC for almost two years now. It has been a wild ride through the latter days of the Trump Presidency, the Rona’-coaster, the Black Lives Matter protests, the Capitol Insurrection, and now into the Biden Presidency. Australia’s approach to managing the pandemic has been quite an isolating experience for citizens living abroad. So I’m pleased that, post-vaccination, life in the US is entering a ‘new-normal’, including being able to travel and eat meals with friends again!
What do you like to get up to when you’re not working?
Outside of work I like to keep active – swimming, jogging, and most recently cycling. I’ve also taken up a pandemic hobby of learning Indonesian… though I’m not a model student.
What words of advice would you give to young Androvians?
Have the courage to get involved in as many pursuits as possible, stay humble, and embrace the many and varied opportunities that come with being part of the Androvian community.