HOW DID YOU GET TO THE UN?
I was born in the Netherlands on 8 March 1968. I went to University in Amsterdam where I studied Economics when I had time. My girlfriend at the time moved to New York so I tried my luck with UNDP. I was then hired as a consultant to look after a few countries in the department of UNDP that dealt with fundraising.
WHAT DOES YOUR POSITION ENTAIL?
As a Country Director I get to deal with everything under the sun, especially since Rwanda is a One UN country, which means lots of inter-agency interaction. I attend many meetings which is actually not my favorite activity but it comes with the job, I suppose.
WHAT DOES YOUR AVERAGE DAY LOOK LIKE?
My typical day starts with a round of golf early morning after which I rush home for a shower and breakfast. During breakfast I read my emails that have come in from the previous evening. I receive typically 600-700 emails a day which requires quite a bit of maintenance. I try to show up in the office before 8.30 AM so that I get a head start before the official program of meetings start. Around 5 PM, things start to slow down and I have some time to respond to people’s requests and questions. Usually I will get out of the office at 6.30 PM to speed home, change, and rush to the tennis courts for a game of tennis. If there is a football game on that interests me, I will hang around after the game enjoying a beer.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT WORKING FOR THE UN?
Even after all these years, my favorite thing about working with the UN is the feeling I can make a difference, even if it is very small. I enjoy doing this with other like-minded people and therefore I really value teamwork. I love working with all the young and creative people in the UN, they really inspire me to try even harder.
WHAT IS THE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE INTERESTED IN WORKING AT THE UN?
Most people look at the UN as an organization that is a bit stuffy and bureaucratic. My advice is to look beyond general perceptions and experience firsthand how exciting it is to work with people from all over the place to strive for a better world. What is also important is to be always be yourself and don’t allow yourself to be chained by the regulations and rules of the institution you work with. My father always says that when there is a will there is a way!
My favorite movie of all times is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly….