Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Communications, Arizona State University, United States


English, Mandarin

If you are willing to take that extra step and go beyond your comfort zone, then working with the United Nations can be truly exciting. You will have opportunities to broaden your skills and to cross over into different areas of work as long as you are pro-active, open to new challenges, and able to think creatively and propose solutions for things that may need improvement.

In 2006, I left my stable, corporate recruitment job in Singapore to begin a fascinating career with the United Nations. I began as an Associate Human Resources Officer for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), a regional commission headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon. My first challenge was to attract higher numbers of qualified people for vacancies in the region. So a few months into the job, I was sent to a training programme in New York, and was actively doing a “sales pitch” of sorts for Beirut staffing. The goal at hand became tougher when the war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia group.

Almost all United Nations staff members in Lebanon were evacuated. ESCWA’s administrative management team was evacuated to Vienna, Austria, and I joined them there to support employees who were displaced or relocated. Together with the teams in Beirut and Jordan, we ensured that staff and their dependents were accounted for, arranging ground transportation by convoy to Jordan, accommodation, airplane tickets, as well as providing the appropriate salaries and allowances. Thanks to the efforts of the United Nations offices and agencies around the world, we moved more than 350 people out of Lebanon. I was very proud to be part of this team, and it was encouraging to see people come together in a time of crisis.

Even prior to the United Nations, my career involved meeting people and helping them solve their problems. After studying economics and communications in the United States, I spent nine years working in my homeland of Singapore in the human resources or recruitment fields. My first job was as an executive search consultant, and I later worked in business development selling recruitment services. My last position was with a business consulting services firm as a regional recruiter.

I was not looking to leave my private sector job, but I was open to new challenges, and was intrigued when I heard in 2005 that Singapore was offering the United Nations National Competitive Recruitment Exam (NCRE), open annually to young professionals who are nationals of Member States who need additional representation among staff in the United Nations Secretariat. Working for an international organization with a global presence seemed to be a natural progression for me, and the United Nations fit the bill; it would also allow me to give something back to society. Shortly after passing the exam and the subsequent interview, I was offered a job in Beirut.

While in Lebanon, I was fortunate to work on several projects beyond my core functions in Human Resources, and I gained valuable experience in recruitment, staff and general administration, finance, and programme management. When I heard about a position available in Cambodia, however, I decided it was time to try a new role in a different country.

In 2008, I moved to Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, for a one-year assignment as the Personnel Officer for United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT), a donor-funded project under the umbrella of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). I hired legal researchers, intelligence analysts, investigators, and transcribers, among other employees. It was my first time working in a tribunal setting, dealing with lawyers and judges who were addressing issues of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The opportunity to live in different places is so appealing. In just four years, I have worked in Beirut, Phnom Penh, and now New York, where I am an Administrative Officer with the Contractual Translation Unit (CTU) of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) at United Nations Headquarters. The Unit is responsible for outsourcing translation and text-processing of parliamentary documentation, publications and treaties, as well as translations requested by other departments. We have six official languages within the United Nations, and there’s an abundance of documents that need translating; the volume cannot all be handled in-house, so my unit manages the external translation services for a portion of the work.

Having been a recruiter, I know that getting a job with the United Nations is not easy; you are competing on a global scale and the process can take time, so applicants should be persistent yet patient. I advise pursuing positions in locations you might not have considered previously - that is how I got my start, and it was worth it. Be flexible. The United Nations will give you the chance to make a difference in this world, and the entire world is out there waiting to be experienced.

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