UNICC Joins UN OICT as a Winner for 2020 Secretary General Awards

15 March, 2021


UNICC and UN OICT work together to ensure M365 migration stability

UNICC’s Messaging Engineering Group (MEG), a part of the UNICC Digital Workplace Services unit, joins UN OICT as a winner in the category ‘Facilitating delivery in the time of Covid-19’ out of 99 nominees for the 2020 the UN Secretary-General Awards.

The Secretary-General Awards honor and recognize significant performance of UN Secretariat staff members who transcend in their duties or initiate and implement projects with great impact and innovative potential.

Staff members across the global Secretariat nominated almost 200 remarkable projects from 52 Secretariat entities for the 2020 UN Secretary-General Awards. 

The fact that we were nominated and selected as one of six finalists out of 99 nominees in our category was already a great success! 
Lejla Salihagic-Celjo, Messaging Systems Administrator, OPDM, UNICC

UNICC’s Messaging Engineering Group (MEG) provides dedicated messaging and M365 collaboration services to the UN Secretariat – 58 000 users at the UN headquarters in New York, peacekeeping and political field missions around the world and UN offices away from HQ and regional commissions.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated all the winners and highlighted the importance of the OICT-led project with participation from UNICC in enabling the UN to communicate globally through virtual events, a “vital tool to carry forward the mission of the United Nations.”

Microsoft 365 administration during the pandemic

Together with other UN Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) teams and as part of the UN Global Support Center (UNGSC), the MEG team participated in project implementation as technical leads and M365 tenant administrators. In recent years the UN has been modernizing ICT systems to enable the organization to efficiently deliver its mandates. The integration of shared drives, Unite Docs standards and Unite Connections allows UN organizations to move to remote work virtually overnight. 

UN OICT’s strategic approach was driven by cost efficiency, security, mobility and enhancing user experience. This accelerated the move to the Microsoft Cloud and global deployment of the Microsoft 365 suite, which includes Teams, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint Online.

By March 2020, the UN Secretariat workforce was ideally situated to respond to the rising crisis of COVID-19. The UNGSC partnership with OICT strengthened the capacity of its infrastructure, implemented cyber security controls, migrated all core data to the cloud, and issued job aids, guidelines and online training to the global workforce of 58,000 users.

UN OICT’s support was also fundamental in ensuring business continuity to the General Assembly, Security Council, and inter-governmental bodies to function virtually during the COVID-19 emergency. Through these enhanced capabilities the United Nations now has the capacity to communicate and interact with global society in a way that was never possible before. 

UN Secretariat users can now reach stakeholders from UN Agencies, Funds, Programmes, and every Member State, connecting citizens and spreading the UN’s message more effectively. The role of UN OICT in the wake of COVID-19 has been pivotal in globally supporting the UN Secretariat and helping staff in all duty stations to continue to communicate, collaborate, and deliver crucial mandates. The UN OICT continues to empower users in the new normal, bridging silos and creating a safe and inclusive United Workspace for all.


The pandemic brought an onslaught of challenges to everyone. The MEG team faced several challenges, especially their working remotely, balancing 100% teleworking with family responsibilities. This impacted internal team communications and work-life balance for each of its members. Equally, it weighed on service and Client support. Geographically, MEG team members are distributed between Valencia and Brindisi; online communication was already one channel of work between the two locations. However, in the wake of COVID-19, team members in each location lost physical presence with other colleagues in the offices.

The teleworking requirement impacted our Clients around the world, which significantly increased the demand for the service that MEG team provides. For example, the use of MS Teams increased 5 times in just the first 3 months of the pandemic and it continues to grow – when the daily work of our 58000+ users depends on MEG services. There are similar trends for all other services that MEG team provides. 

Lejla Salihagic-Celjo, Messaging Systems Administrator, OPDM, UNICC


Improved resources allowed the MEG team to address the increase in the scope of service and demand. It also created a smoother transition for new MEG team members who joined the team and enabled them to integrate quickly. It’s no wonder they were selected finalists for the 2020 Secretary General Awards. 

The team-building skills, focus, and energy that each team member brought in their daily meetings made the team stronger and more able to overcome any unforeseen obstacles. Now the MEG team shares the same goals and the same spirit.