The feeling of working in a very diverse and inclusive organization and the huge sense of belonging to a community of purpose is what fascinates me the most about UNDP
Meet Jacqueline Hurard, Programme Assistant at UNDP Paraguay and get inspired by her career and volunteering efforts towards community development and the creation of a positive and lasting impact for the environment and its people in Paraguay.
I’d like to start by saying how much I am attached to my country, Paraguay. I take all the opportunities I have, to promote it, promote UNDP’s work on site and the amazing colleagues I work with.
My strongest interest has always been development, since I started working back in 2007 as Middle Education Programmes Coordinator for Fundacion Paraguaya.
I’ve worked in different roles, with community programmes, press and communications, youth, as well as covering roles such as marketing expert and project coordinator.
About 4 years ago, I was looking for a new challenge. I was also trying to understand better what I wanted from my career, and my father was like a mentor to me at that time, like a coach to “shape” me and “shake” me, to ask me the right questions that eventually led me to apply to UNDP.
I remember I could see the UNDP building from my school throughout my childhood. I never could have imagined it was going to be me one day! I remember when I applied, I felt like going out of my comfort zone, because the role was different compared to my jobs until then. It was a one year opportunity as a project assistant. I gathered my information and I made my choice.
I joined UNDP for two main reasons: the opportunity to grow professionally and the possibility to contribute through my work to communities’ development.
In the Paraguay Country Office I was supporting the Country Programme Action Plan, resource mobilization, innovation and knowledge building. Such a stimulating environment!
In time the projects grew, and I realized that UNDP offers opportunities both nationally and internationally. In fact, I had the great possibility to do a detailed assignment in UNDP’s headquarters in New York — a detailed assignment is like a secondment to another office for an agreed period of time. There I increased my knowledge of the broader UN context, I supported the Accelerator Labs Network, a multi-country project focusing mainly on the SDGs related to climate and innovation. I was in NYC when the pandemic hit, but my assignment was almost over and I came back to Paraguay.
I’ve continued to work in the Paraguay Country Office until August 2021 and then I took another detail assignment, this time homebased. The flexibility and choice of opportunities in UNDP is what makes the work so interesting and the environment so enriching.
In my latest 9 months assignment I worked with the MPTF Office, a UN center of expertise on pooled financial mechanisms. It supports development effectiveness and UN coherence through the efficient, accountable and transparent design and administration of innovative pooled financing instruments. It also provides additional services, such as data and analytics on UN finance and secretarial support services. The MTPF is growing and continues to be populated by colleagues working from all over the world.
Overall, my work experience in UNDP has been on administration, logistics, organizing events, media press, with an eye to consistently and strategically sharing what we are doing, translating it into words, making sure everyone is aware of the meaningful work UNDP does. We are investing a lot in developing creative storytelling, short videos and audio content, to be closer to our readers.
It’s incredible how, for example, I went from preparing the payments to being the one who approves the payments, liaises with donors, negotiates with stakeholders, explains the operational aspects of our work. It is a challenge I embrace every day.
Even before working though, what really shaped the way I look at the world is volunteering, it’s something that will always be part of me. It has made such a difference in my life, that it is something I always advice people to do.
Volunteering for me is about listening carefully, starting meaningful conversations, connecting even if we don’t speak the same language. Sometimes you find that one word or two words which create a domino effect, which foster dialogues through looks, face expressions, voices.
Why it’s so important to connect with the people in our work? The impact after you connect is so different, it’s like it allows to multiply the results.
I was lucky to do that for my country, that has so much to offer. Of course, there are always things to improve but, it’s a country with 7.2 millions people and we still say it’s a “country of friends”. You have the feeling to know everyone, and I see it as a very client-oriented country, a people focused land. In that mindset, I dream of an international assignment to strengthen my skills, and be able to develop a more holistic vision of things, but I also dream sharing all the knowledge and skillset to Paraguay, and use it to help local communities. The field work that our country office does is what I wish to support.
My preferred memory of UNDP is from when I was working on a project focusing on SDG6 — ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. We traveled to Chaco, about 5 hours from the capital to support the establishment of solar panels that would eventually allow to have access to drinking water without having to walk for kilometers. Improving the quality of life of local communities was the biggest gratification I could ask for. We achieved this result by working with them closely, we built this success with them, with indigenous communities that entrusted us because we made them key parts of the process from the beginning.
This sense of inclusion, the diversity, the dynamism, the possibility to work in different languages and the huge sense of community are what fascinates me the most in UNDP. Through my work I want to leave a legacy, to play my part in my community, to “build together” not just contribute to improving the environment, but have a positive long-lasting impact on people.