Nationality

Austria

Education

Master in Business Administration, Open University, Buckinghamshire, England

Bachelor of Languages (English, Spanish), University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia

Languages

Serbian, English, Spanish, German, French

I began my career with the United Nations Development Programme, working as a bilingual secretary thanks to my background in foreign languages. Although I love the study of languages, I also had a strong interest in finances and accounting. I soon transferred to the Finance Unit as a Finance Assistant. While stationed in Vienna, the United Nations offered me an opportunity to pursue studies in this new field. During my lunch hours, I took financial accounting courses at the nearby international campus of Webster University, which helped me obtain a post in the Accounts Section. Later, I decided to pursue a degree in business administration. With this new degree, I transferred to the area of budget and project financial management.

My first real assignment was during the 1994 United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). In fact, it was my first real trip out of Europe! This small, picturesque island in the Caribbean had some of the most beautiful sights in the world, but was experiencing a tumultuous period in its history. The United Nations mission in Haiti worked to restore democracy and reestablish legitimate authority. I worked in the Finance Unit in support of the mission. My experiences in Haiti taught me a great deal about teamwork and friendship. My diverse colleagues and I came together from every corner of the world, including Japan, India, and Brazil.

As one might imagine, the United Nations is extremely diverse; employees from all over the world bring a variety of beneficial experiences, practices and customs in support of the Organization’s mission in a country like Haiti. Along with its global workforce, the United Nations also recruits local staff from the host nation who work closely with the international staff. This creates an effective, symbiotic relationship where the local staff can help the Organization better understand the home environment or guide the international staff through traditional customs and practices. Likewise, the international staff offer different perspectives and problem-solving techniques that may help alleviate social or economic pressures in the host nation. This aspect of cooperation and interaction between staff is paramount to the effects of the United Nations mission.

I currently work as the head of the Finance Unit at the UNODC office in Colombia. We support the large portfolio of projects in the area of alternative development. In other words, we provide economic incentives and technical assistance to vulnerable families who live in precarious economic conditions. We help them develop economic means that will allow them to make a living from legal activities. For example, we collaborate with the local communities of farmers and fishermen in endeavors such as growing cacoa and coffee, wood processing, and selling fish. In this manner, they can generate income from legal means, and they do not have to resort to growing coca, or get involved in other illegal activities.

To any prospective applicant, I would recommend considering the United Nations for employment if you like working with people from different countries and cultures. Career goals are important, but should not be a focus within this institution. It is important to remember that an employee of the United Nations has a higher purpose that is greater than individual career aspirations. That is not to say, however, that a career with the United Nations doesn’t come with unique experiences and opportunities. There are numerous chances to travel and work in a variety of new, exciting places. For example, I just moved to Bogotá, Colombia, which the locals call “the City close to the Stars,” due to its location at 2600 meters above sea level. It is a beautiful country, with a wonderful climate and an open, friendly population.

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