Photo: Unsplash/heylagostechie

UNICC Participates in Swiss and Italian Career Fairs

UNICC strives to build a dynamic pipeline for its talented workforce, with commitments to gender parity, diversity and inclusiveness. With this goal in mind the organization regularly shares its profile and job opportunities with career fairs in countries where it has offices (Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States). UNICC also supports the UN’s Youth 2030, an ambitious system-wide strategy to guide the United Nations and its partners to work meaningfully with and for young people around the world.

With the goal to build visibility and partnerships with academic institutions, UNICC offers internship opportunities for college students in a variety of fields, from all areas of digital business and technology, to enhance their educational experience with professional training and exposure to the organization’s work. Through internships, students can learn from the UNICC community, while UNICC benefits by creating a diverse workforce, expanding the organization’s expertise and reach to the latest theoretical and technical knowledge and staff resources.

Last week, Geneva and Brindisi colleagues met students and graduates interested to learn more about joining the UNICC family. 

ICT Career Days in University of Salento

In Italy, UNICC virtually attended the ICT Career Days organized by the University of Salento on 29 and 30 March. Service Management Assistant Luca Contursi delivered a presentation and together with Service Management Coordinator Angelo De Angelis and HR Assistant Julia Cassista, interviewed students in 15-minute, one-to-one meetings. The team’s goal was to share current and potential internship opportunities in UNICC’s Brindisi, Italy office. To give the students a glimpse of work there, the interviews were conducted in Italian and English. 

While this was the first time UNICC participated in ICT Career Days there, an event focused on students with technical profiles, the partnership between the University of Salento and UNICC has been in place for five years. UNICC has attended previous Career Weeks with a wider scope and hosted several interns from the institution.

Swiss International Career Day

Also on 29 March, UNICC attended for the fifth time the International Career Day (ICD) event organized by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. This fair offers young professionals and students a platform to meet with representatives of international organizations and find out about jobs and career opportunities in the multilateral environment. 

UNICC’s HR and Communications teams worked together to create an attractive virtual booth, a platform with information about the organization, including UNICC’s Working With Us video, available internship and job opportunities and a presentation about UNICC. The UNICC team was ready to answer direct messages from attendees with questions about how to get started in an international organization.

HR Officer Martin Alirol and HR Assistant Isabel Guardeno Exposito hosted two breakout rooms where students could meet the HR team. The third breakout room was hosted by current UNICC interns in different units, including HR’s Gianna Gkramozi and Diego Arista Vinaixa, Laura Reis from Procurement and Finance, and Ha-Young Kwon, interning in Communications. Students also had the opportunity to schedule short one-to-one interviews.

UNICC promotes and facilitates cooperation with academic institutions in many ways. In addition to internships and engaging with students in specific projects such as the recent Global Hackathon: Data for Good, UNICC collaborates with researchers, benefiting from high and deep level of skills in specific areas, co-sponsoring events, and much more.

UNICC Trusted Partnerships Rountable Screenshot of Panellists

UNICC Partners Discuss Trusted Partnerships for Digital Public Solutions

UNICC is commemorating its 50th anniversary and as part of the celebration the organization brought together preeminent partners to discuss the topic of Trusted Partnerships: Catalysts for Creative Digital Public Solutions in a public roundtable. 

In this 23 March event, prominent thought leaders from the UN family and beyond discussed the power of partnerships, guided by questions from moderator Prado Nieto Barrantes, Chief, Business Relationship Management, UNICC. 

The panellists of the Trusted Partnerships roundtable were:

  • Enrica Porcari, CIO and Director of Technology, WFP and Chair of the UNICC Management Committee
  • Hans Baritt, Controller and Director, Division of Financial and Administrative Management, UNHCR
  • Dianne Dain, WHO Innovation, Digital Health and Innovation, WHO
  • Jean-Louis Ecochard, Chief Innovation Officer, NetHope
  • Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The participants defined what successful partnerships look like. Enrica Porcari noted some of the key ingredients in the secret sauce of a strong partnership: hard work and patience to build trust, a shared ethos and continuous support. “We look for partners that are there every step of the way, working side by side with WFP, and who are not there just for the spotlight,” she said.

The discussion moved into the evolution of technology partnerships over the last years and the driving factors of this shift. One of the great values of trusted partnerships is that it allows for more resource efficiency. To that end, panellists noted that UN Agencies should collaborate and share solutions, instead of working independently.

Partnership is the art of understanding shared value. In WFP we have a number of partnerships, not many, but the ones that we have are deep, are sustained, are long-term. And definitely UNICC is one of them. 

Enrica Porcari, CIO and Director of Technology, WFP and Chair of the UNICC Management Committee

Participants shared their views on how partnerships encourage and drive more creative solutioning, with specific examples. They also discussed some of the most critical changes that organisations should make now to have robust, resilient and sustainable partnerships to face the future effectively. 

Dianne Dain reminded the audience of the UN Secretary-General’s description of the current global situation: “The world is facing the greatest crisis since the United Nations was created.” Global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and many more can’t be solved by any single individual or organisation, but have to be tackled from different angles through partnerships.

Technology and partnerships play a large part in making the dollars go further. We have to partner across Agencies, leveraging and building on institutions like UNICC.

Hans Baritt, Controller and Director, Division of Financial and Administrative Management, UNHCR

Jean-Louis Ecochard offered his view on the value of trusted partnerships and going from the I to the We: “Diversity in partnerships brings creativity and innovation. We need this creativity to design digital solutions to conditions that don’t fit the current technological stack.” 

After half a century, UNICC continues providing shared services to UN entities and related organizations around the world, connecting groups who can come together to collaborate and make impactful digital solutions. 

UNICC depends on its partnerships with Clients and strategic partners, including public and private sector, NGOs, academic institutions and other entities, and appreciates organizations working together for social good, often counting on UNICC, to make the world a better place.

Abraca-Data: A Team of Young Talent, Forged by Chance, Fortified by Data

Several days before the start of the UNICC Global Hackathon: Data for Good, five students from five different universities in India received an email from UNICC informing them they would be participating in the hackathon together as a team. Himanshu Bajpai, Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani; Aanisha Bhattacharyya, Institute of Engineering and Management in Kolkata; Foridur Rahman, Savitribai Phule Pune University in Pune; Swaraj Priyadarshan Dash, Silicon Institute of Technology in Bhubaneswar all registered individually without knowing each other or what to expect. 

Our team consisted of students from India with an enthusiasm for data science… Our participation as a team was entirely a stroke of luck.

Himanshu Bajpai, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India 

UNICC’s Global Hackathon: Data for Good launched on Tuesday, 16 February 2021 with an introduction from the organization’s executive leadership to a global audience of UNICC and other UN organizations’ staff members, university representatives and over 140 students. Following the introductory remarks from UNICC’s Director Sameer Chauhan and Chief of Digital Business Solutions Ninna Roco, Anusha Dandapani, Chief of Data Analytics, introduced the three challenges of the hackathon: COVID-19 Open Challenge, Refugee Crisis: Predict Forced Displacement, and the UN75 Visualization Challenge. 

Himanshu, Aanisha, Foridur and Swaraj registered under the name Team Abraca-Data and opted for the Covid-19 Open Challenge. The challenge called for measuring the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, identifying key stakeholders in managing the outbreak and forecasting the impact of phased vaccination cycles.  

The team began by breaking apart the segments of the challenge and delegating the analytic workstreams to members of the team: Swaraj focused on government measures implemented in developing countries, Aanisha investigated the global vaccination drive, Foridur observed the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 and Himanshu found trends in overall transmission of the virus. All of the students brought their individual fortes in data analysis, statistics and interpretation to approach their respective areas of research.  

Despite their varying approaches, all students on the team collectively agreed upon one thing: to look for trends not already known. Instead, the students focused on finding new insights, particularly how the Covid-19 virus is transmitted among children, the resulting behavioral changes in societies and patterns in the vaccination drive with other key international factors. They looked into data sets from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Johns Hopkins University, New York Times, The Covid Tracking Project, and UN data sets such as OCHA Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccinations, all of them open source. 

They found that the number of children testing positive was actually in regard to the number of cases identified as positive in Italy. The team presented that on average, 1/12 of all positive Covid-19 cases in Italy were children less than 15 years old, effectively marking a correlation between the number of cases among children and the general population that has the potential to guide future policy decisions in the pandemic. 

Credit: UNICC
Credit: UNICC

Additionally, the team presented a word cloud visualisation that was built from various data sets, including the ACAPS COVID-19 Government Measures Dataset which consists of related intel across sources from governments, media, the United Nations and other organisations. By building this visualisation, team members offered insight on shifts in public opinion through the observation of common verbiage, such as “Violence” and “Alcohol” pertaining to individual behavior and “Sanitation” and “Unemployment” related to government response. 

One thing that we were clear about though, was that we won’t try to find trends and patterns that we were already aware of. Instead, we’d try to discover new insights. 

Team Abraca-Data 

The final section of their presentation focused on the global vaccination drive, where they started by looking for correlations between countries that are leading the vaccination drive, such as Israel, Chile, United Kingdom and Serbia, and their ranking in GDP per capita. They also focused on other trends such as data concerning the overall rate of vaccination and the return rate for the second dose for Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. 

The team’s meticulous research and valuable data insights won them first place in the UNICC Global Hackathon Challenge 1: Covid-19 Open Challenge, where they were competing against four other teams. Furthermore, their award-winning project allowed for the development of their data skills capabilities and provided data-driven insights, addressing two of UNICC’s data strategy goals in alignment with the UN Secretary-General Data Strategy

When recounting their Hackathon experience, Abraca-data members expressed an overwhelming appreciation and an enriching experience. They thanked their mentors, whose dedicated attention and helpful feedback “only motivated us to push harder.”  

Team members aim to continue their collaboration and build upon their research, such as incorporating more data on vaccinations, for future presentations and publication. 

This article is part of a series of stories from the first UNICC Global Hackathon: Data for Good that took place in February 2021. The hackathon drew registrations from a total of 140 students from 54 universities located in 13 countries around the globe, all of whom came together to tackle three major UN related challenges: Covid-19 Open Challenge, Refugee Crisis: Predict Forced Displacement, and the UN75 Visualization Challenge. To learn more about this successful event and its wonderful finalists, please refer to this article here. 

Photo: Pop Tika

University Students from Around the World Join UNICC’s First Global Hackathon: Data for Good

Good data collection and analysis can help UN Agencies  make smart decisions and determine where to direct  their  resources.  Hackathons can solve  challenges  by bringing young talent together for thinking and designing solutions.  

UNICC’s first ever Global Hackathon has brought together over 140 students from around the world to explore issues around the Covid-19 pandemic, refugee crisis and the UN’s accomplishments during its 75 years of history. Good data can  support  decision-making  for the UN’s many goals for  people and the planet.   

The competition, organized by UNICC’s growing Data and Analytics  programme, in alignment with the  UN Secretary General’s Data Strategy, took place between Tuesday 16 February and Friday 19 February. The response was overwhelming, with teams from 54 universities in 13 countries registered.

Data to Support the UN’s Decision-Making 

On the first day of the competition, after UNICC’s Director Sameer Chauhan welcomed the students, the three challenges were unveiled.  

There is a huge potential of open-source data that is out there in the public domain and can be harnessed to make an impact. We need strong data scientists to work with it and to solve the complex problems the world is facing.  

Sameer Chauhan, UNICC, Director 

The first challenge focused on Covid-19 and asked the students to answer various research questions related to the patterns of the pandemic. In the second challenge, the students were asked to predict forced displacements. The third challenge consisted in celebrating the UN’s 75th anniversary by visualizing some of the achievements of the organization. 

The students were invited to interact with data experts from UNHCR, the Refugee Agency, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) as well as data scientists and engineers from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, Smarsh and other private sector companies. UNICC leadership and members of the Data and Analytics team were also present during the mentor sessions to offer guidance and advice to the students.   

Credit: UNICC

After two days of hard work, the teams submitted a video and their artifacts to be evaluated by UNICC’s Data and Analytics team members.  

Six finalists went on through to the final and presented their solutions in front of a global audience and a panel of preeminent UN judges. The finalist teams were: 

  • Trojan Army team, from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore (India) 
  • Abraca-data team from  Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani,  Institute of Engineering & Management,  Savitribai Phule Pune University,  Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Silicon Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar (India) 
  • bitsbitsbits<3 team from  Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya  (Spain) 
  • Gear Shifters team from  Columbia University in the City of New York (USA) 
  • H.T.B (Heel of the Boot) team from Università del Salento  (Italy) 
  • QC Data Oriented from  The City University of New York  (USA). 

The IUG Team, from the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine, received a Special Mention. Although they weren’t able to complete the challenge with model outputs, team’s demonstration and the model factors they took into account were very relevant.  

The judges panel included: 

  • Nicole Henderson, Deputy Director, Business Relationship Management Service – Division of Information Systems and Telecommunications, UNHCR 
  • Kelly Mannix, Chief of the Information Management Services Section, International Criminal Court 
  • Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering & Future Sustainability, School of Engineering, University College Cork, Ireland; Formerly United Nations Global Pulse, Harvard University & MIT 
  • Ursula Wynhoven, United Nations Representative, International Telecommunications Union 
  • Milena Grecuccio, Chief of Staff and Chief of Corporate Services (OIC), UNICC 
  • Marco Liuizzi, Chief of Operations, UNICC 
  •  Anish Sethi, Chief, Clients and Projects, UNICC. 

The judges thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and were impressed and inspired by the work of all the finalists.  

Wonderful and engaging presentation and insights from all the teams, very impressive with only 28 hours! Inspiring way to end the work week. Please keep working, the tough challenges we face and the future is in data to inform policy at local, national and international levels. Data science is the future! 

Kelly Mannix, Chief of the Information Management Services Section, ICC

The winners were team Abraca-data for Challenge 1 – Covid-19 Open Challenge; team H.T.B (Heel of the Boot) for Challenge 2: Refugee Crisis: Predict Forced Displacement; and team QC Data Oriented won Challenge 3: UN75 Visualisation Challenge.

We at UNICC want to thank all participants; students, mentors and judges, for joining us and our vision to support the UN in reimagining international peace, humanitarian aid, development, security and human rights. We cannot express enough how meaningful this experience has been for us, we trust that it was also valuable to all participants.

Mentor Session with students in Challenge 2 – Refugee Crisis: Predict Forced Displacement. Photo: UNICC