Why networking between Swiss UN staff is essential
There are currently around 300 Swiss nationals working at the United Nations. Often, they do not know their Swiss colleagues or where they work in the UN system because a Swiss community did not exist until recently. Nora Landheer explains why Switzerland is committed to a strong network.
Where did the idea of a Swiss UN network come from?
It is no secret that having a network of relationships to fall back on when needed is an important factor for success, for both individuals and institutions. The Confederation, in this case the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), wants to harness this potential. It is striving to increase the presence of Swiss professionals in the UN, with a view to strengthening Switzerland’s political dialogue with the UN.
So the Confederation would like to intensify networking between these people?
Yes, between headquarters and these professionals, but also between each other! The experience of other countries has shown a tendency towards an increased presence of their nationals at the UN when they can access a solid network. The connection is unmistakable.
The experience of other countries has shown a tendency towards an increased presence of their nationals at the UN when they can access a solid network.
What do the Swiss UN staff, as those directly concerned, think about this?
The government wants to establish a network, but it is also a great need of Swiss UN staff. In recent years, many staff members have expressed the wish to be better networked with each other as well as with the Confederation.
There is a real need to network, inform and assist each other.
The lack of career prospects at the UN is a significant problem, according to a 2018 study by cinfo, which examined the motivation of Swiss professionals to start, continue or leave a career in multilateral organisations. They expressed a real need to network, inform and assist each other. They also want more support in their career and personal development. This is where cinfo comes in, on behalf of the Confederation.
What is cinfo's role?
We support Swiss nationals at the UN in questions of professional orientation and development as well as with applications for positions within the UN. To achieve the goal of an increased Swiss presence, it is essential that many of those already employed at the UN remain.
Contact with Swiss UN staff in recent years has shown that they are still not sufficiently aware of what we can offer them. This is also the case in reverse: we often discover applications or career problems too late. More frequent, intensive communication would therefore be very useful.
To achieve the goal of an increased Swiss presence, it is essential that many of those already employed at the UN remain.
What solution have you chosen?
We have decided on a user-friendly platform that allows all stakeholders – Swiss UN staff, federal authorities and cinfo – to present themselves, on a voluntary basis of course. Participants can learn more about each other and get in touch at any time. Swiss UN staff also have the opportunity to support each other in terms of mentoring.
And this led to the community 'Swiss professionals at the UN' at the end of 2020?
That’s right. The reactions were not long in coming and confirmed that there is a real need. In just a few days, 120 Swiss nationals signed up; they are working at the UN system at various levels, in different functions and organisations, and in different locations. That is around 40 per cent of all Swiss UN staff – and it is only the beginning. We intend to consolidate this community in the long term.
Our services – to take you further
cinfo supports Swiss professionals considering a career with the UN or a development bank, and those already in the system: