United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affiars


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) 

By David Pearson

By their very nature, humanitarian crises are highly dramatic, visible, and distressing events; and effective response requires quick decision-making and strong leadership.

Developing and increasing the effectiveness of those responsible for leading life-saving relief efforts is a key challenge of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). A project recently delivered pro bono as part of the Deloitte Humanitarian Innovation Program with UN OCHA, focused on strengthening the UN’s pipeline of diverse leaders for senior roles in the humanitarian and development sectors. Deloitte Consulting LLP (U.S.), (Deloitte), has lent its support to UN OCHA since 2012, applying its experience in creating talent development programs in the private and public sectors, to those working in these exceptionally challenging environments.

In this latest collaboration, Deloitte contributed to the conceptualization, development, and launch of an interagency talent program for female leaders within the UN system. The program targets high-potential women in seven participating UN agencies to accelerate their readiness for senior leadership roles across the UN system. The program includes a 1-year rotation to roles selected specifically to maximize candidate development, coaching based on individualized development plans, and in-person leadership learning and training led by Deloitte.

This ground-breaking interagency talent program is the UN system’s first attempt ever to build a female leadership pipeline by broadening the exposure of female talent working in UN agencies. It has the potential to shift the leadership landscape of the entire UN system. With the first cohort of women enrolled in the program, it is off to a strong start and is receiving encouraging reports among the agencies involved.
These agencies focus on life-changing issues such as protecting the rights and well-being of refugees, getting food to those in crisis, and the eradication of poverty. While each is effective in its own right, the challenge is developing leaders that can coordinate the capabilities of the agencies working together to accelerate their common goal—responding to essential needs of those in crisis. As more cohorts of women are selected, the intent of UN OCHA is to scale the program in the years ahead.

Read more about how the Deloitte Humanitarian Innovation Program supports humanitarian crises by collaborating with humanitarian organizations to co-create innovative solutions that help improve the sector’s preparedness and readiness to respond to crises here.

David Pearson is the Chief Sustainability Officer for DTTL. Dave leads innovative programs which demonstrate Deloitte’s commitment to driving societal change and promoting environmental sustainability. Collaborating with government, non-profit organizations, and civil society, the Deloitte network is designing and delivering solutions that contribute to a sustainable and prosperous future for all. Dave has more than 20 years’ experience in both public accounting and private industry. From 2007–2011 he served as CEO of Deloitte CIS, which covers 11 countries in the former Soviet Union.

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