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A Primer on How Global Development Became My Day-To-Day

By Rayane Chbeir


Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.


My name is Rayane, and I’m a Junior Professional Consultant with UNCDF (Fiji). I work remotely from Ottawa and I owe my exquisite JPC journey to UNA-CANADA’s IYIP program. Being Canadian with some roots in the developing world, I did not anticipate that my view of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would transform from an international understanding to a personal one through an internship programme.


JPC Rayane surrounded by the SDGs


I have already had five years of work experience in Digital Banking and thus my journey with the Pacific Insurance and Climate Adaptation Program could not have been more aligned with my background. The program works on “Leaving no one behind” in the digital era, working on climate disaster & risk financing instruments, and using digital innovation & inclusive insurance. The program aims to Build Resilience and Adaptation in the South Pacific by focusing on Climate Action, Gender Equity, and Global Partnerships. Through my placement, UNCDF has guided me through the practical steps of the development field. Working with international partners, reporting to worldwide stakeholders, and working with an inclusive and diverse team has been my day-to-day. Contributing to global working groups, working on gender inclusion strategies, and program policies and reports has become my daily bread and butter. I am no longer an outsider looking in, but a practical contributor to a program that strengthens economies, promotes decent work, and protects livelihoods. The SDGs are no longer mere bullet points on a global agenda, but daily to-dos on a personal one. Given that my placement is remote, I thought I’d share some insider knowledge, in order to give insight on my journey so far.


Practical Tips: How to manage large time zone differences while working remotely. Fun facts:

  • The South Pacific and Canada are on opposite ends of the world map. So Fiji is 16hrs ahead of Ottawa.

  • My mornings are their late evenings and vice-versa; my Fridays are their Saturdays; my Sundays their Mondays.

  • I like to think that I’m working for the future given that they are almost a day ahead ☺

Tips:

  • Find yourself a new BFF: A Time zone converter app.

Working for a UN agency exposes you to worldwide development events. You will be invited to take part in development platforms and world-changing initiatives from Asia, the Americas, the Pacific, Africa, and Europe.

Multiple dates and zoom links will be your cup of tea and you do not want to miss the exposure by messing up your time conversions! The app will guide you to the best times to communicate with your team and warn you when it’s not. The below is a link to mine; I love that it uses colour codes as guides: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?iso=20211030T150000&p1=82&p2=34&p3=37&p4=176


  • Take initiative and build your social-capital on the go:

Whether it’s with UNA-Canada’s extraordinary virtual sessions with subject matter experts, fellow JPCs, your team, or international partners, networking is key. The exclusive conferences and events you attend, and the exposure you receive can be life-changing. I was once invited to be part of a gender working group in which I found myself in a breakout room with the head of the InsuResilience Global Partnership Secretariat from Bonn, Germany!



Taking initiative, Rayane recently published a blog post with UNCDF Fiji:

https://www.uncdf.org/article/7282/cop26-strengthening-climate-adaptation-in-the-pacific-through-parametric-micro-insurance

  • Resist the temptation to work overtime:

Sometimes working remotely blurs your boundaries. Determine your working hours, take your weekends, enjoy down-time. This will help you avoid burnout and maintain your efficiency.


Rayane taking some well deserved down-time.


  • Enjoy the flexibility, the learning, exposure, and the journey.

Working remotely gives you a sense of independence, flexibility, and responsibility. It will challenge your discipline, your creativity, and time management skills. Be open and take it all in as this will make you grow both professionally and personally. I know I am!


  • Use the host’s country’s time zone when communicating with the field.

Be specific when setting appointments and discussing deadlines in your emails. I’m the only remote team member working with the team based in Fiji, so I use the Fijian time zone when communicating with co-workers in the field. I give a range of available timings to meet up making sure they fit within both our working schedules.


Finally: Be considerate, aware, adaptable. accommodating and a Team player!