People Champion Spotlight: Sukhrob Khojimatov
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 you as much as collaborating with them energises us.
For this People Champion Spotlight, we spoke to Sukhrob Khojimatov, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Turkey based in Ankara.
One word that sums up Sukhrob’s career journey is ‘dynamic’. From founding the first Central Asian Youth NGO in the USSR “Children’s Parliament” at the age of 15, to serving as a legal consultant to government institutions for 10 years, to anchoring a wide range of roles at UNDP over the last 15 years, Sukhrob has had a wealth of experience and learning.
With these five questions, we shine a light on Sukhrob’s remarkable journey with UNDP thus far and his work as a People Champion.
Q1. What motivates you to be a People Champion?
I was really inspired when we received the email from the OHR Director in 2019 detailing the people strategy. His message that People for 2030 is not just an ‘HR strategy’, but an ‘organization strategy’, really resonated with me, as I believe that as we build towards the future, we need people who share the values and visions of the organization and come together to realise the same.
As a result, I immediately felt compelled to do my bit to ensure that personnel in our Country Office benefit from the strategy. I felt that in my role as Deputy Resident Representative, who is in charge of both programme and operations and is responsible for mobilising resources, I could add enormous value to facilitate meaningful initiatives. After brainstorming with colleagues, we also institutionalised a voluntary People for 2030 Task Force to localize the People Strategy according to the needs of our Country Office. A keen interest in leveraging my role to benefit personnel, and the energy I draw from this task force of innovative colleagues, continues to motivate me to be a People Champion.
Q2. How has your career evolved since starting at UNDP?
I joined UNDP Tajikistan as a Programme Manager in 2006 and worked as an Operations Manager from 2008 onwards. In 2013, I was nominated as Deputy Country Director of Operations of Somalia. This was my first international assignment that motivated me to leave my comfort zone and familiarize myself with the Arab States region in addition to Central Asia. Here I embraced a different culture, a different way of life and working, and learned a few valuable lessons along the way.
As of November 2017, I am the Deputy Resident Representative of the Turkey Country Office, where I coordinate the efforts of the County Office on strategic partnerships, resource mobilization and strengthening the partnership with Turkey’s government institutions, donors and private sector actors.
Q3. What is your favourite thing about working at UNDP?
I believe that my career journey illustrates that UNDP will always offer you numerous opportunities to learn and develop your career regardless of your position, country or contract modality.
In this regard, I really like what the Administrator said a few years ago during his visit to the Turkey Country Office that UNDP is a knowledge-driven organization. We are dynamic because there is always a high demand for high-calibre individuals who bring new ideas to the table. Therefore, in order to maximise the opportunities available, people must always learn and work on their own capacity and knowledge-building.
Q4. As a People Champion, what is the one initiative that you have implemented in your Country Office to transform the work culture?
One of the first projects carried out by the People for 2030 task force was based on the feedback we received from colleagues in the GSS survey. We found that, especially in the summer, when we have long school holidays, working parents found it difficult to balance work and parental responsibilities, as not everyone could afford a nanny to care for their children at home. To solve for this, we launched the ‘Children’s day-care centre and breast-feeding room’ in January 2020. This initiative won one of the first People for 2030 Awards.
I would also like to highlight another initiative that is particularly relevant today, as it was implemented during the pandemic to care for and connect with our people — ‘The SDG 2020 documentary live stories’. This consisted of a virtual monthly screening of a documentary about the SDGs and followed by a group conversation to reflect on our impressions and takeaways. This was very well received by colleagues, as they found documentary topics such as gender discrimination and climate change, very thought-provoking.
Q5. What is your personal mantra?
My mantra is:
“Never give up. Be a ‘trouble-shooter’, find the solution, don’t be the trouble.”