People Champion Spotlight: Enriqueta Baquero

For this People Champion Spotlight, we spoke to Enriqueta Baquero, Operations Manager at UNDP Ecuador, to learn about her 22-year journey with UNDP.

Through her work at UNDP Ecuador, Enriqueta has made a significant contribution to supporting people in numerous ways — in her roles as Programme Associate, Operations Manager and National Officer, leading the issues of planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as in her capacity as a People Champion of the Country Office, delivering UNDP’s people strategy, People for 2030.

With these five questions, we shine a light on Enriqueta’s incredible journey with UNDP thus far and her work as a People Champion.

Q1. What motivates you to be a People Champion?

The bonds I have built with colleagues in my Office over the years motivate me to be a People Champion. I believe that by being a People Champion I act as a bridge that facilitates dialogue and decision-making in favour of their well-being.

People for 2030’s focus on fostering and leveraging diversity is an area I am particularly inspired by. As a step towards implementing this in UNDP Ecuador, I helped establish the ‘Inclusive Internship Programme’ where we established an internship agreement with one of the country’s universities that has an ethnic diversity programme. This initiative enabled us to promote more diversity in the office and we were honored to win one of the 2020 People Awards in recognition of our efforts to include people from minority and vulnerable groups in our workforce, thereby reflecting the societies we serve.

Q2. How has your career evolved since starting at UNDP?

My career has evolved exponentially. I started with the UN system in 1995 as an Administrative Assistant in another UN agency (UNOPS). I first joined UNDP in 2000 as a Programme Associate in the area of Democratic Governance. In 2004, I became Associate of Strategic Planning and in 2009 the National Officer leading issues of planning, monitoring and evaluation. I then applied for the position of Operations Manager in 2015, which I have held to date.

Fig: Enriqueta Baquero (in red) as Strategic Planning Officer in 2004

During these 21 years, the organization has provided me with a lot of avenues to learn and has helped me cultivate a valuable network of likeminded colleagues who share my vision of promoting sustainable human development. It has also given me the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and learn from them, which has not only been key to my personal growth but has also helped me develop my professional skills to better serve the people of my country.

Q3. What has been your favorite project at UNDP? And why?

It is difficult to choose a particular project from the pool of development programmes I have supported, as they have all been transformative for me: projects for the planet, for post-crisis recovery, for strengthening institutional capacities, for empowerment of women, for encouraging youth participation, etc. I hope that through all of them I have been able to have a positive impact on the lives of people.

One of the most challenging ones that stands out to me, is when I had to work closely with communities affected by the Ecuador earthquake in 2016. Working in the field, even for a short time, leaves solid lessons such as the importance of preparing the population in response to these types of events and the need to work closely with the communities to enhance their resilience. Projects like this give enormous satisfaction, so it is one that is etched in my memory.

Fig: 2016 — Enriqueta visiting communities affected by the earthquake

Q4. What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?

UNDP is one of the best organizations I have worked with, because the existing knowledge exchange and networking platforms are unparalleled. During my journey with the organization, I was lucky enough to have supervisors who were my mentors and colleagues who were incredible thought partners. I am grateful to each of them for the lessons they have shared.

However, one of the best career lessons I have learned in this process is that one’s career depends only 10% on the organization and 90% on oneself. For this reason, I continue to encourage everyone around me to take initiative, be bold and look to new horizons — this can be in the form of new roles within the country or assignments across geographies. Do not hesitate to try for them. Although it may seem only a phrase, I truly believe that:

“if you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

Q5. What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?

I really like soccer and if I had another job, I would be a commentator for soccer matches. As of now, I am excited about the qualifying matches for the Qatar 2022 World Cup and I am wholeheartedly rooting for Ecuador!

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