Nationality

Sri Lanka

Education

Master’s Degree in Science, Policy and Management, State University of New York, Long Island, United States

Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Design, Loughborough University of Technology, Loughborough, United Kingdom

Languages

Sinhala, English

There is nothing like a typical day at United Nations. From the uniqueness of working in a multicultural environment to contributing towards the betterment of mankind, there is no limit to the variety of work one is exposed to.

I was first recruited by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York in 1991. Then I served in many peacekeeping missions across the globe, including posts in Rwanda, Iraq and Lebanon.

I worked with the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) for eight years prior to my current post in Geneva. In 2006, Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns, beginning a 34 day war. The fighting took a heavy toll on Lebanese civilians. While stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, my team ensured business continuity for ESCWA during the political unrest. Though all non-essential staff members and their families were safely evacuated from the mission in Beirut, a few critical staff stayed behind at the mission and worked into the night preparing the transition to a safe haven with our business critical systems. Great logistical difficulties and security threats hampered our progress, but despite much intensity, the environment was very task-oriented. I helped establish quick mitigation strategies and reconstructed the critical ICT operations and provided telecommuting facilities to evacuated staff members. This was a successful rescue operation by virtue of all staff on site. Everyone pitched in with strong resolve.

Currently, I am working for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. UNCTAD functions as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, supported by discussions with experts and exchanges of experience, and aims at consensus building. Also, it undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection for debates between government representatives and experts. It provides technical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of developing countries, with special attention given to the needs of least developed countries and of economies in transition.

As the Chief of Information Technology at UNCTAD, I supervise a staff of sixteen including website developers, analysts, business applications developers, infrastructure experts, and a service support team. Managing a team in Administration presents challenges; there is no limit to the variety of work involved. In particular, the work entails bridging the gap between business and technology, having a strategic level knowledge of IT capabilities, providing value-based direction, and communicating the value of IT to business.

Before I joined the United Nations, my professional career was quite varied. I conducted research at the National Engineering Research & Development Center in Sri Lanka and taught various engineering courses at The Open University of Sri Lanka. After obtaining my Masters in policy and management, I worked as an Operational Analyst to the Bureau of Waste Disposal at the Department of Sanitation in New York. During my time at the Bureau, I also assisted them in IT infrastructure and in applications development via the Private Carter Invoicing System.

My work with the Organisation has taken me all over the world. It is unique working with many people from different parts of the world. There are diverse, substantive programmes for the Member States that are making valuable and real contributions for the betterment of mankind. I encourage anyone interested in a position with the United Nations to become a voracious reader. Be interested in variety of disciplines and areas, and be prepared to contribute without immediate benefit. Be strong and be able to work in tough environments in various countries. The more one knows about the world, the better prepared one is to serve its peoples.

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