Nationality

China

Education

Master of Philosophy in Economics, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Languages

English, Chinese

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I didn’t grow up in different cities, so I wasn’t used to living in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, I am open to new ideas and I am flexible, and I think that is one thing that has had a major impact on the path I’ve taken since joining the United Nations.

I was an economist at the Financial Secretary’s Office of the Government of Hong Kong before taking the United Nations National Competitive Recruitment Exam in Economics in 2006 (now the Young Professionals Programme). I went to work for United Nations Habitat in Nairobi as an Associate Human Settlement Officer. This programme has a very specific mandate on urbanization and the challenges that come with it. I worked in the research department that was economics-related and data-driven. This was when I stood back to think about my next step. I realized at that point I wanted to focus on research and quantitative analysis. 

Nairobi is very different from where I am from. I have found that offices in various duty stations operate a bit differently; when you move you have to adapt to the cultural changes in the office as well as those in your personal life. Nairobi gave me the courage to keep trying new places. There was a real sense of community there and I got to know everyone very quickly. It takes a while to adjust to the different modes of operation, but this is the joy of mobility within the United Nations. We are constantly learning about different cultures. I have built up a global network through moving around; I have colleagues and friends all over the world. 

My next post took me to Vienna, where I was an Associate Statistician with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for eight months, specifically working with drug data. I then moved to New York and worked in the Statistics Division, concentrating on statistics and capacity building activities.

Every duty station is unique. In Nairobi, most colleagues communicate face-to-face. In Vienna, e-mail is the preferred mode of communication while in New York, it is a mix of both. Experiencing how different duty stations operate is one of the most exciting and interesting parts about mobility within the United Nations. 

Currently, I am a Drug Control Officer in the Psychotropic Control Section of the Secretariat of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) based in Vienna. International drug control conventions were developed long before the United Nations was established. The role of the INCB is to monitor how governments are doing in regards to implementing drug prevention. Achieving balance between the control and medical use of drugs is at the core of the conventions.

The way our board operates is very interesting. We have 13 board members, selected by the Economic and Social Council through country nominations and nomination by the World Health Organization. They have very different backgrounds; some of them have drugs control backgrounds, some are lawyers, some are economists, and others are professionals from the medical field. They come from different parts of the world, so they have very different opinions and ideas. The same issue is considered from different angles before a decision is made. When controversial issues arise, we invite delegations from the Member States; this is particularly exciting as one can see how dialogue and communication can change the outcome of a situation. Being able to aid dialogue and communication is a very important quality to work in the United Nations. You must be proactive, patient, and portable!


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