Over the past several years, UNICC has seen a steady growth in internships – young professionals, recent graduates and even current university students passionate about the United Nations and UNICC’s digital business solutions, contributing to meaningful projects by joining various teams.
Young people must have a say in the decisions that affect their future.António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
These teams range across the organization, from Data and Analytics to Application Development, Operations, Finance and Procurement to Communications and Human Resources. Since the beginning of the internship programme around 2015, UNICC has been proud to host nearly 50 hardworking interns, many of whom have continued to pursue careers within the field of international humanitarian aid and technology. Some have even joined UNICC!
Internships have continued throughout the pandemic, even when most of the interns haven’t been able to meet with their respective teams during their time at UNICC.
Thanks to all of our interns for their contribution and their efforts during this challenging period of uncertainty while they were able to perform their tasks and responsibilities with an excellent manner of professionalism.Frederic Laval, Chief, Human Resources Officer, UNICC
UNICC’s internship programme is mutually beneficial for interns and the organization, because it gives the opportunity for bright young minds to contribute to day-to-day functions, allowing UNICC to put into practice two of its core values: involvement and inclusiveness, while supporting youth to enter the aging UN system. The involvement of interns on UNICC teams creates open conversations where team members and interns can share information for more innovation in accomplishing daily tasks.
The involvement of interns displays the organization’s priority to strengthen collaboration across generations and areas of work for the greater UN mandate. Most recently, five interns working out of UNICC’s Valencia duty station, were invited to attend the Secretary-General’s first visit to the UN Support Base in Valencia.
Today in Valencia, I met with young people and encouraged them to continue speaking out for their right to peace, justice and equality.António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
The internship program also highlights UNICC’s commitment to gender, diversity and inclusiveness in the tech sector. As shown below, of the 14 current interns in UNICC, nearly half identify as women, which according to BuiltIn is 12.6% above than the US national average of female representation in the tech industry.
Additionally, UNICC interns exhibit the international nature of the organization, where they work out of all five of the UNICC duty stations and together speak a total of over 15 different languages.
Benefits to UNICC
Identified areas of interest and growth to implement innovative services for UNICC Clients and Partner Organizations:
- Add to the UNICC knowledge base
- Benefit of high-level skills in specific areas
- Improve the availability and quality of digital business services
- Keep up with the latest technologies and their utilisation
- Keep youth at the centre of the 2030 Agenda.
Meet the Interns of UNICC
Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and geographic borders, there have been limited chances for the interns to congregate outside of their teams and collectively reflect on their experiences at UNICC. To encourage these conversations, several interns set up a virtual call to connect for the first time to introduce themselves to one another and their specific responsibilities, share memorable experiences of UNICC and how working for the organization will shape their future trajectories.
Many UNICC interns applied during the final semester of their university studies with previous experience working for international NGOs and nonprofit organizations. Upon embarking on their internship journey with UNICC, they onboarded with their respective teams and are regarded not just as interns in the conventional sense but as true contributors to the projects and duties of their colleagues.
Laura Reis, Finance and Procurement Intern, shares that she is “glad for the chance to support a team of hard-working and highly-skilled professionals,” reiterating the collaborative team ethic of UNICC for all staff.
Furthermore, interns within the same teams find value in interacting and sharing knowledge with one another on different UNICC standards and procedures to further professional development. For instance, Human Resources interns Giannoula Gkramozi and Diego Arista Vinaixa shared that they hold weekly meetings to catch up and work closely together on all sorts of different projects.
These collaborations between the interns, as Application Development Intern Bruno Pezer says, are especially meaningful during the pandemic. “Because the team is so integrated and my colleague, Gianmarco Ruggiero, fellow Application Development intern, is especially helpful, I have no trouble getting to know everybody, understanding the work environment and various tasks.”
Additionally, several interns briefly shared their most memorable UNICC experiences and reflections. Ha-Young Kwon, Communications Aide Intern, states that her most memorable experience was hosting a conversation with upper-level women managers about how far they’ve progressed in their decades-long careers in IT services.
Denian Ouyang, Graphic Design Intern, shares that her favorite experience was working with staff across the organization to deliver the UNICC 50th Anniversary video. Vincent Amande, Service Desk intern, seized the opportunity to expand what he learned in the classroom on IT and Business Information Systems and apply his studies to the real world in a cross-cultural team: “It’s a matter of working with harmony towards a common goal”.
The UNICC Experience
Although the interns are involved in different teams working on projects across the spectrum of the organization, many of their answers tied to one specific aspect of UNICC: the people. “The best aspect about working at UNICC,” says Maria Tranchese, Finance and Procurement Intern, “is the working environment and the collaborative atmosphere. Every member of my team is always available if I need help – they are really interested in my growth and learning in the workplace.” Carla Herrero Cantero, also an intern in Finance and Procurement, shares that the positive work environment she has in UNICC “marks you and makes you realize where and with whom you want to work in the future.”
Reflecting upon their UNICC experiences, the interns spoke on the different lessons they will take away following the end of their contract. One lesson Pablo Izquierdo Ayala, Data Science Intern, brought into the conversation was related to his interactions with colleagues in UNRWA during the period of unrest in Palestine in the spring of 2021. He shared that “it was humbling in every sense” and encouraged him to adopt a broader, better informed and interpersonal perspective through working for such an international organization.
UNICC, a proponent of supporting educational and learning endeavors through strategic partners, academic institutions or otherwise, continues to encourage all those who are eligible and interested in applying to the Internship Programme to do so. Young professionals, recent graduates and current students will not only be regarded as valued team members but also find professional and personal growth in each opportunity they face during their experience at UNICC.
UNICC’s commitment to the internship programme is indicative of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably in SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Thank you interns! View current openings for Internships and other positions on the UNICC public web site Working With Us page.
Shashank Rai, UNICC’s Chief Technology Officer presented the UN Digital ID on 27 April at Hyperledger’s Social Impact Special Interest Group.
Hyperledger, hosted by the Linux Foundation, is an open-source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies by bringing together leaders and stakeholders in the financial, banking, IoT, supply chain, manufacturing and tech sectors. The Hyperledger effort includes working groups to direct operational aspects of the blockchain enthusiast community as well as special interest groups to support areas of activity the organization supports.
UNICC was invited to present at a Social Impact Special Interest Group session. Shashank delivered a talk on the UN Digital ID to showcase its use of cutting-edge blockchain technology to digitally transform outdated and tedious processes of handling sensitive documents across the UN system.
Digital ID is not your favorite social media or big technology company account. Digital ID brings together all attributes of your identity – social, physical and personal – that are verified by mutually trusted third parties, and which are digitally accessible only with your consent.Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, UNICC
Shashank introduced the rollout of the UN Digital ID in UNICC’s partnership with the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF), where the technology developed helps to shortens a UN beneficiary’s pension eligibility case from two months to two minutes.
The Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution, the first UN Digital ID solution in production deployment, uses Hyperledger INDY and Hyperledger ARIES technologies.
The impact of the UN Digital ID, demonstrated by the 6,000 registered beneficiaries for the UNJSPF Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution since its launch three months ago, was well received by the Hyperledger audience – many attendees and participants were impressed to see blockchain technology be implemented in an innovative and effective solution.
Shashank’s presentation illustrates UNICC’s strategic partnership with Hyperledger as well as UNICC’s position as an Associate Member of the not-for-profit for blockchain technology innovation group.
International Financial Institutions Contribute to a Shifting Business Model while Amplifying UNICC’s Digital Transformation Capabilities
UNICC, as a trusted shared service provider for the UN family and its related organizations, has a growing impact on the mission to address humanitarian crises on a global scale. With an increase in influential partnerships – at over 70 Clients and Partner Organizations – and a 50-year record of effective digital business solutions delivery, UNICC is redefining how it delivers its services in a changing digital international development landscape.
Notably, opportunities lie ahead in UNICC’s growing number of partnerships with a particular group of institutions named International Financial Institutions (IFIs). IFIs are multilateral, regional and national development banks that fund UN-centric operations on an unparalleled scale around the globe.
Critical to the mission to propel international cooperation and resources towards achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, IFIs are a key component in the funding, implementation and delivery of UN family development projects and programs. From the IFI’s 2013 open letter to then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ approach towards multilateralism to the 2030 SDG Agenda, IFIs and UN entities are expanding their partnerships day by day.
Funding Relationships from the Source
It’s a welcome shift in UNICC’s business model to work with IFIs, who enter the funding process at early stages of humanitarian programme delivery.
UN Agencies (and through them, UNICC) typically enter the project cycles later, closer to and supporting ‘last-mile’ partnerships with NGOs and civil society organizations. In working with IFIs, UNICC can identify and develop opportunities beyond its traditional partnerships with the IT or business units of UN Agencies.
IFIs are involved in funding projects from the beginning, with a wide and deep perspective on programming, with substantial funds and advanced technology at their fingertips, to make the world a better place.Prado Nieto, Chief, Business Relationship Management, UNICC
Asian Development Bank
UNICC’s involvement with IFIs began in 2016 with a partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a global organization dedicated towards providing funding for development projects, $21.5 billion in 2019, to 49 countries in Asia and the Pacific. ADB initially approached UNICC looking for a provider of Disaster Recovery (DR) services, with UNICC providing a resilient backup infrastructure and environmental and security management in UNICC’s Geneva Data Centre.
Since the original Service Delivery Agreement (SDA) in 2016, UNICC has worked with ADB to provide a number of critical services, granting the bank the title of UNICC’s first IFI ‘Privileged User’ for its influence as one of our top ten Clients.
Expanding the IFI Horizon
Following UNICC’s agreements with ADB, UNICC grew in visibility as I participated in 2019 meeting for IFI CIOs (Chief Information Officer) in Cape Town, South Africa. In the meeting, where more than 12 IFIs were represented by CIOs, we advocated for the potential for collaboration between IFIs and UN Agencies through UNICC’s support.
We had a very good time, commiserating a little but learning and inspiring each other. I am sure you will all agree that we ought to continue strengthening our collaboration. We all share a similar mission and genuine partnership is what the world needs more.Denis Robitaille, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the World Bank’s Information and Technology Solution, IFI CIOs Club, Cape Town, September 2019
Even in the two years since the meeting in Cape Town, the progress is palpable. Services that are provided to IFIs include but are not limited to:
- Disaster Recovery/Resilience
- AWS Cloud Hosting
- Data Lake
- Robotic Process Automation
- Business Intelligence.
The impact of UNICC’s services for IFIs go beyond the signing of contracts. Since IFIs not only require but also can afford the latest innovative technologies, these partnerships reveal several key areas of growth for the organization.
Firstly, IFIs have the financial capabilities to outsource solutions from providers in the private sector, leaving UNICC to constantly sharpen and grow in all aspects of service delivery to keep up with competitors. Areas such as cyber security, Big Data, artificial intelligence are several of many solutions required by IFIs that will keep UNICC up to date with cutting-edge technologies.
Additionally, in providing services and maintaining relationships with IFIs, UNICC will see a vitalization in the internal health of the organization.
IFIs can help UNICC envision a future of growth and change, whether it’s volume discounts for shared services or an increase in onboarding skilled experts to support new challenges and projects. The partnership with IFIs carries the potential to improve UNICC’s financial health and enhance its digital transformation capabilities to support the missions of its Clients and Partner Organizations.
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.