Interview with UNDP youth leader Nada Dimashkieh Sweidan

Tell us about your professional background

From an education perspective, I graduated with BA in business with a double emphasis in banking & finance and Economics. Then I got my Master of Business Administration MBA. finally, I got my Doctorate in Business Administration with leadership specialization.

Nada Dimashkieh Sweidan

As for my professional prescriptive, I started my career with the United Nations Development Programme UNDP supporting the Ministry of Economy and Trade, I was responsible for making the different departments a one-stop-shop, then I was responsible for the small and medium enterprise unit. My tasks were mainly focused on developing a strategy to support SMEs and establishing three business development centers. In 2011, I got a new position at the UNDP country office as Programme Officer for the social and local development portfolio and the UNDP youth focal point. In this regard, I am responsible for drafting concept notes, following up with donors, reporting to donors and UNDP management, quality assurance of the different interventions, and managing the Youth Leadership Programme YLP. I was exposed to increasingly responsible positions

Tell us about your current profession

In 2011, I joined UNDP CO as a program officer at the Social and Local Development Portfolio and the youth focal point. My tasks are but are not limited to drafting concept notes and following up with donors, assuring the quality of the projects’ implementations, monitoring the works on the field which includes field visits and spot checks, reporting to donors, drafting TORs for procurements, and HR positions, ensuring good relationships with partners, beneficiaries, and donors, checking, and approving all payments, reporting annual portfolios and integrated work plans, and monitoring project expenditures.

Nada Dimashkieh Sweidan

As a Youth Focal Point, since 2015, I am managing the Youth Leadership Programme and proving support to youth to ensure that they work on their innovative ideas and transform them into concrete projects. Every year we support more than 600 youth, and now we have a committed network of over 700 youth who are continually supporting each other with or encouraging intervention.

What are some of the major obstacles you have faced in your professional life?

One of the major obstacles I have faced is my shift from education to experience. The educational life is completely different from the work-life experience. What one learns in educational institutions is completely different than what you could experience when you first get a job. In addition, when we first graduate, we believe that we would directly be exposed to managerial positions and then face the fact that we need to work a lot on ourselves to be enrolled into higher ranks. It takes a lot of time and effort to work with people and know the reality of how things work.

Another obstacle that I had faced at work was that when I had wanted to make a few changes and introduce new thinking and innovative ideas, I found that people often resist the change as they want to stay in their comfort zones.

What qualities do you think are most appreciated in your field of work?

One important quality people appreciate in my field of work is being down to earth. Having that humble quality permits one to be compassionate and understanding. To further elaborate, before any decision or reaction, it is very important to listen carefully to people’s fears, needs, and interests. This brings me to my second point; patience enables one to reach their goals with little to no frustrations. It facilitates the process of cooperation with other people as you would have the capability to tolerate any complications or delays in the work process.

What would u advise students who are currently facing difficulties in their professional lives?

Life is not easy, and we must embrace and understand the obstacles that hit us to learn and move on from them. You may face multiple challenges; thus, you need to understand and learn from those challenges to overcome them.

What inspires you most in life?

Since I am continuously working with young men and women, aiming to help them develop their skills to enhance their change-making capabilities, seeing them improve, design, and implement innovative and impactful sustainable development solutions inspires me. Working with youth and seeing how they can cope with the challenges presented to them which enables them to introduce innovative models to overcome those challenges empowers me to keep doing what I do.

What is your greatest achievement?

As much as I have achieved milestones in supporting communities with UNDP, I believe that working with youth and empowering them are more valuable achievements for me. When I see youth developing their ideas and then transforming them into concrete businesses or initiatives I feel so proud of them as well as myself for guiding them through their development and change-making plans.

Nada Dimashkieh Sweidan

What are two of the most important life lessons you have acquired

There is a certain level of self-satisfaction you may reach when you work on being an active participant in your society. It enables you to become the best version of yourself.

Never let small obstacles blind you from the vision of your main goal.

What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would give to students across the globe?

To enhance your skills, you must never say no to any opportunity. Do not sit around and wait for opportunities to come to you. You must head out with an open mind and grab any opportunity you may benefit from.

Your knowledge should never be limited to what you have acquired during your years as a student. Education does not stop after you graduate. You must always aim to work on yourself by seeking knowledge through reading and being an active participant in your society.

It is also important to keep in mind that the years of education you have had do not entirely prepare you for the work. Therefore, you must aim to continually be part of the real world by collaborating with social enterprises, non-profits, NGOs, initiatives, or campaigns.

You can connect with Nada Dimashkieh Sweidan on Linkedin here.

Also, you can connect with her via Twitter here.

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