People Champion Spotlight: Giovanna Povis

UNDP People for 2030
5 min readAug 16, 2022


People for 2030 is fortunate to have some very talented People Champions who embody and inspire change in their respective Country Offices. The Spotlight series aims to highlight them and their efforts. With each Bulletin, we will be featuring an interview with the hope that reading their story motivates our readers as much as collaborating with them energizes us.

For this People Champion Spotlight, we spoke to Giovanna Povis, HR Associate in the Global Shared Services Centre, Bureau of Management Services, Copenhagen. Giovanna has been working at UNDP since 2013, mainly in the UNDP Peru Country Office where Giovanna was also a People Champion during People for 2030 Phase 1 (2019–2021).

Conversations with Giovanna always feel like you are catching up with an old friend. Her passion for serving people wherever the vocation might take her is truly inspiring. Therefore, with these five questions, we shine a light on Giovanna’s journey over the last three years.

Q1. What motivated you to become a People Champion?

When I was assigned the role of a People Champion I felt really honored. I didn’t know there would be a pandemic but taking care of people is what motivates me. People always come first. But of course, after the pandemic happened, we had to adjust a few things. I really enjoyed being a part of the process; making people enjoy the work they do despite the challenges. In the end when you see the rewards, and how your initiatives positively impact colleagues in the office, you see that your efforts were worthwhile.

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

Well, my background is in industrial engineering and before I joined UNDP in 2013 as an HR Associate for the Peru Country Office, I was working in a mining operation in the safety department.

It is there that I fell in love with the world of Human Resource management and decided to do a Masters in HR to complement my technical background. It was a big switch in my career, but I can honestly say that it was the best career choice I ever made because every day in UNDP is different. I have had opportunities to work and be trained abroad for example in 2017 I was in UNDP Uganda for Occupational Health and Safety training. The training truly reminded me why I had fallen in love with human resources in the first place.

In 2019, I got my first detail assignment in New York. Right around the same time People for 2030 was launched. The training and detail assignments have helped my career a lot and I’ve also gotten a wider network of colleagues in the process. In 2021 the clustering opportunity was presented to me; I was invited to apply for a short-term assignment in Copenhagen. Now in 2022, I am local staff here at Copenhagen working in the Global Shared Service Centre and it is so rewarding because I get to work with people from all over the world.

Giovanna (far right) with colleagues from UNDP Peru commemorating International Women’s Day

Q3. What has been your favorite initiative in UNDP?

I really like all the initiatives that we have undertaken so far, but I have to say the gender and diversity awareness initiative where we created a network of Gender Champions as a response to the increase of victims of gender-based violence is my favourite initiative.

The goal was to promote a culture of equality through the dissemination of prevention messages against this type of violence, development of awareness processes, capacity-building and construction of response protocols. Before UNDP’s people strategy was introduced, we had some activities related to gender awareness but then after the pandemic hit and we started working remotely, we drew inspiration from People for 2030’s focus area ‘Foster and Leverage Diversity’ as we had to be innovative to keep our efforts alive.

So, we came up with the idea of internal training for personnel from all areas and backgrounds who were interested in embracing shared accountability and becoming “Gender Champions”. I really liked this initiative where we talked about gender in a space where we really felt free to have honest conversations amongst colleagues and learn about gender issues that go beyond work.

Workshop with Giovanna Povis (People Champion), Mixy Paredes (Gender specialist) and the “Gender Champions” from the Peru Country Office

Q4. What is your favourite thing about working in UNDP?

From the very beginning, I knew that working in this organization was a way for me to serve people. As an HR Associate, I might get a chance to work on the ground with the people we are serving across the world but what I always say to my team is that when we do a good job with personnel, for instance by recruiting the best candidate for a job, then we are helping the organization achieve its objectives. Just seeing the results of our recruitment in the field is highly rewarding because at the end of the day, we are all collectively working towards the greater good of tackling issues such as climate change, empowerment of women and risk management.

Q5. What is your life mantra?

This question reminds me of an interview I did in university during my master’s study where I was asked a similar question. My answer back then and now remains the same; my reason for being on this earth is to serve. I would like to be an active asset in making the world a better place. Of course, now with the work I have done in UNDP I realize that the impact I have is great and it goes even beyond my home country. Serving makes me feel rewarded.