Bintou Sumareh is a Gambian professional with extensive experience in the United Nations. What stood out the most when I came across Bintou’s profile was that she has worked for The World Food Programme, UNFPA, GIZ and now UNOPS, not only do these agencies have completely different mandates, but that she stayed as a national staff instead of pursuing more opportunities as an International Staff. Why this stood out most for me was the belief that the most attractive benefit and motivation for most people seeking jobs at the United Nations is the opportunity to move abroad. Bintou’s story is very inspiring, she is hardworking and this is evident when one sees her profile and her career progression.
We had the opportunity to spend an hour chatting with Bintou, which she kindly approved to be shared with our members. She reminded me of the proverb "charity begins at home". Most of us aspire to work for the United Nations because growing up, they were the ones we saw changing lives and supporting alleviate poverty. This is for you to remember that the greatest impact one can make, is to start at home. The rewards should not differ based on where the impact is made.
In this interview, Bintou Sumareh - now Senior Procurement Officer at the UNOPS Gambia shares the strategies she has used to grow in her career, why has she chose to remain a national staff instead of seeking international opportunities and seriously, the best practical advices I have heard a professional share on camera.
Many of our partner organizations seek procurement specialists, however the most opportunities come from WFP and UNOPS. UNOPS is a service provider, a technical advisor and an implementer of projects to supports our partners. Our experts work on a range of projects, from managing the construction of roads in South Sudan and providing renewable energy solutions in internally displaced persons camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, to helping the Government of Honduras procure vital medicines and medical supplies.
The primary objective of a Procurement specialist is the act of obtaining or buying goods and services. The Procurement specialist is also critical in the value analysis, financing, contracting and purchase process.
"It's tempting to take a break from what feels like more work when we settle into a position. However, that's a mistake that can cause you to miss out on an opportunity" says Jacquelyn Lloyd, HR consultant.
1. Be persistent - it is part of the process to be rejected or have to apply multiple times
2. Continuous Improvemnt: Frequently study the job descriptions of positions you aspire to work in. What are the skills in demand? Where do you need to upskill?
3. Invest in a Career Coach / Mentor
4. Learn general skills online / Get certified - Bintou mentioned her certifications and how easily it is to find some of them online. Here are a list of certifications officially recognized at International Organizations.