UNLEASH World: UNHCR’s Reema Masoud
The UNHCR’s head of emergency and security learning unit speaks exclusively with UNLEASH about her work in learning and what it’s like dealing with uncertainty. All the time.
Why You Should Care
COVID-19 has accelerated any progress that would have taken probably five to 10 years for that to normally happen. This includes UN agencies.
Reema Masoud from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees talks to UNLEASH on day two of the Paris show.
Reema Masoud give us a few minutes of her time on day two of the Paris show to talk acceleration of change, innovation and much much more. We join the conversation as she sets the scene about working for a UN agency.
Reema Masoud: …we work with persons of concern that we were mandated to take care of including internally, displaced people. However, we cannot deny that COVID-19 And the pandemic was disruptive. I think it shook everyone.
And you can see it even here during the conference that everyone is talking about how they survived the pandemic. For us, it was also disruptive – we have staff across the world, and our frontline workers did not stop during that time, unfortunately. So we had to go through it; we stayed to deliver and that had a big impact on the staff and the workforce.
Luckily, through the post pandemic, at least at the level of HR, we did take a pause to think, reflect and confirm the ‘why’. People were working remotely for quite a long period of time, it generated a lot of new ideas, it was an opportunity at the same time as it was a challenge for everyone. But I think we emerged from that.
Jon Kennard: It’s good to hear. To zero in a bit more on the work that you do in learning and development, how’s that changed for you, if at all, in the last couple years?
RM: It really changed. And, as you know, COVID-19 has accelerated any progress that would have taken probably five to 10 years for that. So in the realm of learning and development, it was also an opportunity to connect with everyone who’s working in the field, and trying to see what they are doing during the pandemic; again, for an emergency agency such as us we have to continue to deliver learning for our workforce, as we are preparing them to respond to emergencies across the world. That technology has been really amazing. And what emerged during the pandemic was also great.
We’ve used online simulations, for example, for emergency, and we continue to deliver learning for an even bigger crowd, because now we’re doing it online. So we managed to reach out to more learners. When it’s face to face, it’s a heavy logistic process. It’s rewarding. We’re not comparing both, by the way, because it’s like you’re comparing oranges and apples. But still, the purpose has been served.
I think during the past two years, there is more reliance on technology, but also more linkages with the whole talent management within the agency.
So how to link learning to career development, how to link learning to the skills that are required for us to remain relevant, to have an agile workforce that is highly mobile, and delivers what’s requested.
JK: So you think these are the things that are going to carry on to next year, the challenges you face, the issues you face with your workforce? Perhaps it seems quite a facile thing to say for an agency that works with refugees because it’s quite dangerous, it’s such a high stakes organization.
RM: We respond to emergencies. That’s the nature of our work. So we’re already dealing with uncertainty throughout the our nature of work. But all those disruptions like the pandemic, the supply chain disruption has affected us greatly to respond and deliver humanitarian assistance when needed, for example.
So now as we’re moving forward, we’re just trying to predict more, I think. This is what’s gonna help us to be ready for what’s gonna come next…
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Jon has 20 years' experience in digital journalism and more than a decade in L&D and HR publishing.