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Strengthening leadership capabilities for humanitarian response

Driving interagency collaboration at the United Nations with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 

A collaboration between the Deloitte Humanitarian Innovation Program and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) centers on bolstering the UN’s pipeline of diverse leaders for senior roles in the humanitarian and development sectors.

Deloitte Consulting LLP (U.S.), (Deloitte), has supported UN OCHA on a pro bono basis since 2012 on a key challenge for the organization: developing and increasing the effectiveness of leaders.  Over this time Deloitte has applied its experience creating leadership development programs in the private and public sectors to develop innovative programs for the humanitarian sector.

Deloitte and UN OCHA are currently working together on an interagency talent program for female leaders. 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 one year rotation to posts 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.

“Strong leadership and quick decision-making are critical to the life-changing humanitarian crises that challenge mankind,” said Claire Messina, Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening Unit, UN OCHA. “Although our agencies focus on different issues, they require leadership at all levels. Having an organization like Deloitte share its experience and knowledge has served to bring professionals from our agencies together under a coordinated process that we believe will greatly contribute to our effectiveness now and into the future.”

Deloitte professionals are working with seven agencies within the UN whose objectives intersect but each has a different area of emphasis, including the eradication of poverty, fighting world hunger, and protecting the rights and wellbeing of refugees. While each of the agencies is effective in their own right, the challenge is developing system-wide leaders who are able to look beyond their own agency and focus on collective goals. 

Given the critical, ongoing role of leadership this project has the potential for growing impact. As more women are selected into future cohorts of the program, the intent of UN OCHA is to scale the program in the years ahead.

“Strong leadership and quick decision-making are critical to the life-changing humanitarian crises that challenge mankind.

Although our agencies focus on different issues, they require leadership at all levels. Having an organization like Deloitte share its experience and knowledge has served to bring professionals from our agencies together under a coordinated process that we believe will greatly contribute to our effectiveness now and into the future.”

Claire Messina, Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening Unit,
UN OCHA

Read the Deloitte Perspectives blog, Developing female leaders at the United Nations, from David Pearson, Deloitte Global Chief Sustainability Officer.
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