Ms Nissa Cita A
Ms Nissa Cita A

UQ, CSC alumna, Nissa Cita A. has used her degree to its fullest potential in her home country, Indonesia, playing a pivotal role in an exciting environmental project, WAVES. While beginning a new career journey, as a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, she took the time to answer some of our questions about her CSC experience.

In this Q&A, Nissa discusses what her time with WAVES and in academia has taught her about the CSC field and imparts some advice for the CSC Master’s students of today.   
Tell us briefly about your work in Indonesia
After I graduated from UQ, I took the job as an in-country communication consultant for a multi-partnership endeavour in natural resource valuation. This project, Wealth Accounting, and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES), is a global partnership with the World Bank. Through assessing the status of natural resources, name it water, energy, minerals, etc., the initiative is building a set of natural capital accounts and using them for more effective decision making. 
My main responsibilities as communication consultant are engaging with policy makers in Indonesia and contributing to building a community of practices around the natural capital, both in the country and globally.  
I am also simultaneously involved in related programs around the environment, climate change and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) nationally. 
Just about last year, I started a new career path in the academic sector as a lecturer at the Communication Department of the University of Indonesia, something I have been planning to do through the course of my professional life. 
What motivated you to take up the position? 
It was a challenging position, but it sparked my curiosity and passion in an area I am quite familiar with. I see that communicating the idea of the WAVES project itself, Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) has always been challenging as it is less known to public and national stakeholders compared to other environmental programs that have come to practice and publication. I realise that it requires the right strategy, an effective approach, and efficient communication method to align national stakeholders, international donors, and also the needs of expanding the global network for the project.  
That is to say, the complexity, variety, and relevance of the subject are both challenging and motivating. I take this as the outcome of acquiring higher education. 
What do you enjoy most about the job?
What I enjoyed most about the job is the ability to learn and building a network of communications from Africa to Latin American countries and having experience in learning from each other. 
What are you most proud of in your work?
I am most proud of how I contribute to building awareness about the use of natural capital accounts, and how I maintain the engagement of policy makers, and influencers in the field through publications, continuous meetings, and forums. 
What are the biggest challenges, and the biggest highlights of working with the University of Indonesia and Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES)?
In engaging with policy makers, it is important to understand the dynamics of the various aspects of the country/region/area situation (politics, economy, social, cultural) where we are working. The dynamics are often unpredictable and might affect the progress of our reach project milestone. 
What are some key things you’ve learnt?
It is important to know where the power lies, what political agenda is being pushed, the economic conditions and the government’s relationship with various agencies and NGOs. These should all be taken into account. This would be used to identify what kind of message needs to be conveyed, what type of activities to be implemented or what communication medium can be utilised. 
How did your Master’s courses in CSC at UQ prepare you for this work?
I learnt that communication is not just about correctly or appropriately sending messages across, but it should also be a field that induces knowledge. This is probably the main key mindset of CSC that I have taken with me. 
Now that I have shifted my career into academics, both my professional background from the CSC field and my Master’s background from UQ have given me solid fundamentals to the endeavour. 
What, if anything, has the work taught you about the broad practice of communication for social change? 
As a University Lecturer, I am a newbie, and still trying to navigate the new responsibilities of teaching, researching and community services as an academic professional and am perhaps still far from excellence. Dealing with Millennials who are digital natives; being faced with ever-changing new media and enormous communications issues nationally and globally has been challenging so far. Mastering every aspect of them would be impossible, thus in learning activities, I like to facilitate my class in a participatory way for them to construct their knowledge. 
What advice do you have for students wanting to study CSC at UQ?
Basically, we are all equipped with curiosity as a starting point to learn, explore, and investigate. The learning process happens anytime, anywhere, with anyone. My education so far, especially at UQ, has helped shape my learning process during my master program and there I met great students, lecturers, professors and academics with whom I could explore various communication topics from an academic or practical standpoint. 
Maybe you have an excellent IQ and knowledge, but do not let your curiosity fade away. I found an interesting quote about his, “if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities."  I think this is the spirit of studying CSC.
Is there anything you’d like to add? 
Personally, I value this cycle of learning and sharing and hoping this will be an added-value to my professional choices, and contributing to someone else's personal growth would be rewarding.  


Nissa Cita A. is an exceptional professional in the CSC field, with a wealth of experience working for inter-government institutions and international development agencies. She now inspires others as a Communications Lecturer at The University of Indonesia. You can find more information about the WAVES project here.  

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