Saturday, March 12, 2011

On the other side of the desk

I had a quite interesting experience today. I was in fact invited to participate to a discussion on ‘careers in international organizations’, and to share with students near to graduation my experience and advice on how to develop a career in an international organization.

There are two aspects of this experience that I found interesting. The first one is that I found myself sitting in front of students that are today in the exact same situation where I was 15 years ago, and I could see myself in them. I could feel the same enthusiasm and at the same time the same uncertainties, the same questions I had 15 years ago. I remember that when I was a student I attended a short cycle of classes from Giandomenico Picco (the former Under Secretary General of the United Nations), and I do well remember how inspiring they were and how much they contributed in shaping my will to undertake a career in development cooperation. Today I felt the double-responsibility of on the one hand transmitting to students the passion and the enthusiasm for a profession which I find extremely fulfilling and rewarding - as Picco did to me. And on the other hand the responsibility of not providing a ‘too romantic’ picture of this profession, but to objectively present it with its positive aspects as well as its drawbacks.

The second aspect that I found interesting in this experience was that in order to prepare my contribution and identify the key messages I wanted to deliver I had to look backward to my career so far and try to understand what the turning points and the critical decisions I had to take were, and to distil from them lessons that could be useful to the students. This was not a trivial exercise, because when we look at our career we are often too focused on ‘today’ and ‘what’s next’, and we rarely take time to critically think to the process and the decisions that brought us here.

What I discovered is interesting, but I will tell you another time. Good night for now.

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