Giving UNDP a voice that will be truly heard
Meet Sam Quan Krueger, the Head of Digital Communications in New York, who shares how he helps shape UNDP’s global and local narratives.
I have a long history of working in social mission-driven organizations. My first work experience out of college was with AmeriCorps in Washington, DC. I then worked in community centers at the local level in New York City. And every now and then I would switch over to the private sector. I worked in strategic marketing and I learned quite a bit about the tools used to drive traffic. I took that knowledge and went back to nonprofit work. My goal was always really to do more mission-driven work.
At UNICEF, it was the first time I had a chance to go into the international space. I was mostly working on digital operations and overseeing budgets and projects. So when the opportunity came to oversee an entire digital communications ecosystem at UNDP, I thought it was a great opportunity, the next step within the UN system. UNICEF is a very advanced and mature environment when it comes to communications and marketing, whereas UNDP was open to growing and really trying new things in digital.
UNDP’s focus on the Sustainable Development Goals is very exciting. It’s an honor to get to be very close to the messaging and the visibility of the SDGs. If anyone in the world searches in Google for the SDGs, UNDP’s web pages are some of the first to appear. Graduate students have told me that of all the UN system pages pertaining to the SDGs, they find our pages to be the most informative and well structured. That gives me faith that we’re having a meaningful impact in the world.
UNDP exists in around 170 countries and there are different professionals throughout this network who do digital communications or communications in general. I’ve regularly interacted with Country Offices to find out what their needs are. To hear from them makes me feel closer to UNDP’s work. So while we attempt to position UNDP in terms of global audiences, we’re also supporting offices at the local level so that they can communicate effectively in their local context.
Work that stimulates
One project I’m excited about right now is the Corporate Web Project, which involves replacing existing technology while rethinking our approach to digital communication. And intellectually, that’s exciting to me. Not just understanding and learning about what these new platforms and technologies can do, but also how we construct content to create lasting user experiences. We’re talking about websites, but also social media. What type of content is pushed out in the global social media channels for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and how is that aligned with the content throughout UNDP’s digital ecosystem.
The expression of information is intellectually exciting for me. It’s fun to see what the latest styles and techniques are and then try to recreate them in our own environment. The Corporate Web Project requires a full rethinking of how information is used and expressed, the hierarchy of information, and the relationship of information.
A message that resonates
I’m motivated by seeing real change in the world. The challenges we’ve seen with the climate and growing inequality, are daunting. It’s sort of this cycle of experiencing it out in the world, in my life, through the news and even my personal experiences, and then being able to connect it to the global issues. So that drives me and keeps me motivated.
And, over time, we start seeing that the type of words, images, and ideas that we’ve been advancing within our environment get picked up elsewhere. So we might post something on social media and a celebrity like Leonardo DiCaprio will pick up what we’ve done and repost it, which is exciting. And that’s happening over and over again. Someone out there is seeing something and putting it out on their channels. We had the CEO of a major corporation see something we did and he sent it out to all his staff on Twitter. So it’s those moments where you think, “Okay, this has an impact in the world.” People who have a position of influence recognize what we’re saying and what we’re doing is important and they want to carry that forward.
I don’t think I’ve ever encountered so many different personalities or people and ways of working than at UNDP. I’m constantly having to adapt and be very good at listening. As I grow as a manager, I read a lot about how managers in other organizations and companies deal with projects and performance and one technique is coaching. And I love that. I love that idea of facilitating an individual’s growth as well as a team’s process towards an outcome. I think my UNDP journey reflects what’s happening in the world. There’s constant change and disruption and UNDP has been responsive, as best as it can. But that means that we’ve had to constantly be agile and adaptive, and that’s difficult work. And I think what keeps me going is knowing that the difficult work is for a good reason and it’s with good people.