More on my experience at the UN

For anyone particularly interested, here's a little more detail on my experience with the UN, and how it negatively affected my on-line reputation.

Based on past success running several similar initiatives, I was hired in 2008 to lead the largest-ever reform of the UN's bureaucracy, the Umoja program, covering all administrative functions (Finance, HR, Procurement, Logistics) across all UN secretariat offices worldwide as well as Peacekeeping and Disaster Relief. I raised $315 million in funding from member states, built a team of over 200 people, and tackled the re-engineering of a vast range of outdated and inefficient business practices. 

In such a senior and visible position, I took great care to exercise strict ethics in hiring and procuring, despite receiving many underhand solicitations. The smear campaign was conducted by a few dishonest staff who attempted to extort promotions and benefits from me, and whom I would not bow to. When their efforts failed, they exacted their revenge by fabricating negative content and sending it to unofficial UN news blogs, the mainstream press and to the UN auditors. As an outsider, I was an easy target for their frustrations. Unfortunately, the auditors carelessly included the accusations in a draft report, before checking their facts. The press, always keen to point fingers at the UN, published the story as an example of corruption. In their misguided zeal, they attacked exactly the wrong person - both my job and my principles were focussed on combating inefficiency and malpractice, and improving transparency and accountability. 

Following all the noise, I was indeed the subject of an investigation, and eventually, I was formally cleared of all accusations. However the atmosphere remained difficult and at the end of my three-year contract in 2011, I elected not to seek renewal. By that time the design of the new UN administration was complete, and I handed over to my deputy, a peacekeeping veteran and someone more qualified than myself to take the project into its implementation phase. In addition, the intensity and pressure of the job, not to mention the unpleasantness of dealing with a fabricated scandal, had taken its toll on my health, and I was under medical advice not to renew.

I left the UN with some satisfaction - the team's re-design of the UN's administrative practices was revolutionary - and of course some disappointment at how the organization had treated me. My superiors had not had the courage to stand by me even when it was clear that I hadn't done anything wrong - a trait unfortunately all too common amongst senior UN staff. But I'll cover that in my new book - watch this space! 

Experience at UNICEF

After leaving the UN I provided consulting services to the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C., on several projects including one similar to Umoja. I enjoyed three years there but, still resident in New York, I wanted to return to the area. In mid-2014 I applied for the CIO position at UNICEF, was interviewed several times, and then appointed to the position in November 2014, to start in January 2015. 

I know that I won the competition freely and fairly, and was selected in good faith by UNICEF. However, as the start-date approached, the negative on-line content resurfaced, and losing candidates for the post as well as other staff took advantage to voice their objections to my appointment. It became clear that the atmosphere would hamper my ability to perform at the highest level. Not wishing to subject myself to a new round of defense, nor tarnish UNICEF's deservedly stellar reputation, I resigned before taking up my functions.

News stories around these events were all speculative, and dramatized a straightforward decision unnecessarily. For my part, it was indeed frustrating for a while, but I have since moved on to more exciting opportunities that I might otherwise have missed out on! Some things do indeed happen for a reason...