top of page

Demystifying Consultancy: My Journey with UNDP Indonesia Accelerator Lab

by Emel Tabaku

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

Many students who are wrapping up their undergraduate years or pursuing graduate studies are intrigued by the world of consultancy, as was I when I came across the International Development and Diplomacy Internship Programme. What would my work as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) with a UN agency entail? What is consultancy really all about? Was I ready to consider myself a Junior Professional Consultant (hints of imposter syndrome coming through)? These were some of the questions I was enthusiastically looking forward to finding the answers to during my time with UNDP Indonesia Accelerator Lab.

Image 1: Emel Tabaku

My name is Emel Tabaku, and I am currently a Master of Public Policy candidate for the class of 2024 at the University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Beyond this, I am the Founder and Executive Director of my own non-profit organization, RCAD Initiative: Redefining Communities through Art + Design. My mission for as long as I can remember merges my fine arts background and relevant experiences in government, international development, nonprofits, and policy consulting to advance global sustainability. I strive to utilize the transformative power of art and design to advocate for progressive policies that empower equity-deserving groups. Many of the community-engaged initiatives I have led to date amplify the voices of underrepresented communities through storytelling, mentorship, entrepreneurial skills training and innovative dialogue.

The combination of my professional and volunteer experiences have led me to where I am today, completing the prestigious internship programme as JPC with UNDP Indonesia Accelerator Lab. The Lab itself strives to accelerate collective action in building resilient systems for development challenges through grassroots solutions, innovative partnerships and increasing awareness about social innovation. I never knew about the UNDP Accelerator Labs prior to joining! There are 91 labs across 115 countries, all with the shared mission of accelerating progress toward the 2030 Agenda. Today, I find myself exactly where I have dreamed of being and that is at the heart of this future incubator whereby creativity and innovation are the driving forces of sustainable development.

Image 2: The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Under my role as a Junior Professional Consultant with UNDP Indonesia Accelerator Lab, I am responsible for analyzing and synthesizing complex regional issues from the Lab’s urban resilience and foresight efforts portfolios with the end goal of producing guidebooks, youth engagement initiatives, and the design of an inclusive digital platform. My oral and written communication skills have grown significantly as I prepare correspondence, providing regular updates via email to my direct supervisors and arranging meetings via Zoom to discuss project progress and receive feedback prior to finalizing reports. My consultancy skills are further developed as I prepare creative project proposals and presentation decks that are later shared with our internal and external stakeholders with the purpose of determining any potential collaboration pathways. Most of the presentations created via PPT are heavily informed by qualitative research reports, sources ranging from academic, governmental, and UN related, of course.

Being a consultant has boosted my confidence and has helped me overcome imposter syndrome, as I have begun to realize how grounded and insightful my guidance and recommendations have been to my team. My direct supervisors, and team members are very satisfied with the level of engagement I have created as many of the project portfolios I have been handling require cross-functional collaboration. The most exciting part about this opportunity is that I get to build supportive relationships with key stakeholders while tapping into the transformative role of art and design in driving systems change! I am currently in the process of finalizing the project framework for Climate Stories engaging with both our climate finance and carbon policy teams, and producing a Social Entrepreneurship guidebook modelled after one of our Urban Innovation Challenge winners, Sayur Sleman.

Image 3: UNDP Accelerator Lab Indonesia, Data-driven Approach in Flood Mitigation: Collective Mapping Journey and Complex Systems. This is a map of the distribution of artificial and natural lakes within different zoning areas.

All in all, my experiences as a Junior Professional Consultant have made me realize how central the values of intersectional equity, collaboration, inclusivity, and creativity are in the work we are doing with and for communities on the ground. I am honoured to intern with UNDP Indonesia Accelerator Lab and deepen my understanding of productive ways to reimagine development and collective intelligence while empowering communities to take action in building their envisioned futures.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page