Happy UN Career Podcast / Episode 1

My UN Story and Why This Podcast

Happy UN Career Podcast / Episode 1

Episode 1 / Sep 03, 2020


Hello – and welcome to the Happy UN Career Podcast!

I look so much forward to be sharing guidance and advice with you on how to create that happy UN career. But first I thought I’d you give you a little bit of information about who I am – and why you should be listening to me.

My Story With the UN

I am Danish and I started out working in Human Resources in an international private sector business in Copenhagen way back in the 90’s. I loved the international environment, so when I saw a posting for a job in Human Resources in UNDP I was thrilled.

And I felt so lucky and excited when I “got in”.

I worked with UNDP from 2001 to 2014 and I loved to be part of this fabulous, multi-faceted world. It was thrilling to meet and work with colleagues, clients and ministry counterparts from all over the world. It expanded my worldview in so many ways and really sparked both my personal and professional growth.

I kept feeling proud of working for the UN. And I had great colleagues, great bosses and worked with so many wonderful and interesting people. It felt like such a privilege to be working in a place and with people that really strived for the greater good.

But, boy – did I also sometimes feel frustrated with the bureaucracy that is an inherent part of a large multilateral organization. The politics and the hierarchy that seemed to have an influence on so many processes and decisions.

Give Me That Promotion…

And like almost everybody I speak to I really missed feeling that the organization took an interest in me – from a career development perspective. We all know that in the UN, all processes have to be transparent. So there can be no promotion, no special advancements. And working in Human Resources this was the message I regularly passed on to all of the staff I was advising. But as far as I can judge, most of us longed for that promotion anyway…

In the end, I decided it was time for me to leave and I started my own business.

In my time with UNDP, career counseling and coaching were some of my favourite job responsibilities, and I have continued to do consulting for UN organizations, specializing in the area of career coaching and personal effectiveness.

And with both my time in UNDP and the following years, I have gained so much – sometimes hard earned – experience that I’d like to share.

And then I decided to create this podcast. Happy UN Career.

So, What Is That – A Happy UN Career?

Well, of course that’s an individual thing for each of us, but for me it’s a career where:

  • you are happy when you go to work in the morning – and feel satisfied and content when you go home again in the afternoon. At least most of the days!
  • you get recognized for your hard work and efforts
  • you feel that you have ownership over your career – and you haven’t somehow signed that ownership over to this vague and impersonal thing: “the organization”
  • you feel inspired and motivated – and where you get the personal and professional growth that you desire
  • you have the agency and autonomy to make the decisions that are right for you and your family
  • you create powerful options for yourself

So, this podcast is made for YOU, a UN professional who loves the UN, the mandate, the multicultural aspect – but who also LONGS for a career and work-life that you love just as much.

The podcast is going to focus on what YOU can do. Because I often meet highly skilled, intelligent and talented people that strangely feel like victims of their job – or their organisations. Like they’ve lost their agency to take powerful action themselves.

And if there is one thing, I really hope to help with in this podcast it is this:

To give you a sense of agency, a feeling that you can take charge of your own career and professional development.

You can create powerful options for yourself!

Can people from outside UN also use these tips? Of course they can – and feel free to share with your friends outside. It’s just that when I create this content I very much have you, all the people I’ve met, worked with, served, and befriended in the UN sphere in mind. And the special world that the UN is.

My intention is that episodes will be fairly short – don’t expect one and a half-hour-long episodes from me! – and that there always be something, a small concrete action or reflection point, you can take away.

Episodes will cover topics such as how to:

  • Draw a roadmap for your career
  • Enjoy and excel at networking
  • Create boundaries – and stick to them
  • Set up effective prioritizing and planning structures
  • Create time for that precious homelife
  • Improve relationships with your important stakeholders – such as your boss, your team members, and your peers

In the next episode, I’ll start on a small series focusing on self-mastery, a topic I find endlessly interesting, because there’s always some small thing we can tweak or improve in order to up our game.

And first off, the topic for next time will be: “What drives you – and what drains you?”