People Champion Spotlight: Yosr Ben Said

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 energizes us.

UNDP People for 2030
5 min readSep 14, 2021

For this People Champion Spotlight, we spoke to Yosr Ben Said, Talent Development Manager at the Tunisia Country Office.

Yosr’s positive energy is contagious, and the sheer number of initiatives she and her colleagues have launched in the last year alone is a testament to her passion for supporting colleagues. With these five questions, we have tried to highlight some of them.

Q1. What motivates you to be a People Champion?

Having been a HR Business Partner for various organizations, I understand the importance of robust people strategies and find them interesting. When I saw and read the People for 2030 Strategy document, I was inspired because it paves the way for a transformative working culture and emphasizes the need to invest in people development. The approach was different and is something we have long waited for. For this reason, I was motivated to take it forward. In the role of a People Champion, I see myself as a “coach” for personnel in my CO, which is an extension of my interest in human resources and talent development.

Q2. Tell us about your career and your journey with UNDP to date?

My journey with UNDP began 9 years ago, in 2012, when I joined the organization as an HR consultant under the IC contract. After a year in this role, I secured the position of HR assistant under the FTA contract. This was immediately after the Tunisian Revolution, which led to free and democratic elections. Our programme mandate was then to support these elections, and during that time I recruited over 60 service contractors!

After that, I was nominated as Talent Development Manager in 2015. In this role, I work on creating meaningful learning plans for the 140 Country Office personnel. At UNDP Tunisia, the core challenge I have been working on is to strengthen personnel’s skills in the programmatic, operational and technical areas in order to optimize the technical and operational management of UNDP programmes and projects. To this end, our learning committee has been instrumental in working closely with managers to identify gaps and form tailored learning paths for roles.

This opportunity has been extremely interesting for me, as I have specialized in Human Resource Development, both academically and professionally. In addition to UNDP, I have over 10 years of experience in the private sector, especially in recruitment. Hence, my profile is holistic, because I am familiar with both the external aspects of recruitment as well as the internal aspects of training and development. I have always been passionate about working closely with colleagues and supporting them to develop new competencies and capacities in order for them to do their best work, so the journey so far has been fulfilling.

Q3. What was your proudest moment at UNDP?

I think the proudest moment was the way we navigated the COVID-19 crisis last year. The pandemic put us in an unexpected situation — especially when we found ourselves in a complete lockdown.

As an HR professional and People Champion, I had an important role to play in supporting the personnel in my CO in these trying times. Our HR team took a week to reflect on the incoming changes and swiftly design a plan to adapt our ways of working. We introduced many innovative elements — we hosted virtual workshops to ease personnel into teleworking, organized sessions with medical professionals to support mental health and wellbeing, created safe spaces where people could express their frustrations about dealing with the crisis, and much more. We also institutionalized weekly online check-ins to ensure that colleagues felt connected to each other. For example, we introduced tea breaks with hosts Sameh & Miled and Faiza, where colleagues could get to know each other better by sharing about their families, children, hobbies, etc. In one such special coffee break session we invited colleagues Aida, Selma and Corrado to share their challenges and inspire colleagues with their career journey.

Photograph: ‘Get to know your colleagues better’ session

In addition, we also hosted social coffee breaks where we invited selected colleagues to share their expertise, for example, two topical sessions were -

  • ‘Political Dialogue: Analysis of the Political and Economic Context of the Country’ — presented by Asma Khouja and Hichem Aouad
  • ‘Accountability in the COVID Age, UNDP Responses and the Tunisian Context’ with Thouraya Bekri
Photograph: The first Tea Time Break session at UNDP Tunisia

The teleworking setup was all very new and sometimes frustrating, but I’m proud to know that we have done our best to make everyone feel supported and ensure continuity in work and relationships with colleagues.

Q4. What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with UNDP?

My wish is to see the results of the global staff survey improve consistently year-on-year. That will mean that all our efforts are having a positive impact.

I was very happy to know that our CO received a good score this year, especially in terms of knowledge development. Knowing this was an absolute joy for me, because it means learning sessions and other initiatives are meaningful for personnel. For example, during our weekly learning sessions on Thursdays, we invite experts to share their knowledge with colleagues. The recent sessions were designed to equip staff to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As these sessions are recorded, we are able to distribute them widely and archive them for new participants to learn from later.

  • COVID-19 and violence against women (Review of Organic Law №2017–58) — Moderated by Nesrine Rebai
  • Monitoring and evaluation in the context of COVID-19 — Moderated by Faiza Elleuch and Ada Fishta
  • Web monitoring and research techniques — Moderated by Sami Badreddine
  • Creative Confidence Workshop: How the pandemic has changed the way we work together? — Moderated by Azza Rajhi

We are motivated to intensify this and other efforts under the People for 2030 strategy. And hopefully in ten years, we will see similar improvements, in relation to scores of other areas, such as engagement, retention, etc.

Photograph: A learning session on ‘Monitoring and evaluation in the context of COVID-19‘

Q5. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I have three children who keep me busy — my twins are seven years old and my little boy is four years old. I love spending time with them!

Apart from that, I always make time for walks. I love walking in the morning between 7–8 o’clock, because for me it’s like meditation — it helps clear my head and reflect on things from the day before. All in all, things like walking, yoga, meditation and reading are very relaxing.