Sunday, December 05, 2010

USA to Switzerland

Let’s step back a moment to a day in October 2009 when an email popped into my mailbox. The message invited me to consider a position with UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland. Apparently, the resume I had submitted six months earlier finally grabbed someone’s attention.

I read the job description attached to the email in disbelief. The qualifications described my career skills – a 100% match! Ed and my son Chris also read the job description. Ed shouted, “SOLD!” And, Chris warned me, “Mom, if you apply, you are going to be going to Switzerland. You match this job perfectly. Go for it!”

Three days before the November application deadline, I hit send. A current resume and updated cover letter launched into cyberspace. And then, I waited and waited. No, news came for four months.

The next email hit my box in February, 2010. Could I participate in a teleconference interview? Yes. Two weeks later, another email arrived. Can you come to Geneva? I countered with the idea of a teleconference. After all, I had commitments in the USA.

“Teleconference?” HR hesitated. “Ok, agreed!” No trip to Geneva, a teleconference would suffice. There’d be no jaunt to Europe. Technology served me well with visual clarity and minimal vocal delay. The interview discussion convinced me this was a good fit. Only one “opps” occurred. As I gestured my hand with enthusiasm, I bumped my pearl earring. The earring went skidding across the conference table like a puck on an air hockey table. The interviewers didn’t notice and I just kept on talking. Days later, a third phone call covered a few more points for clarity. And then, I waited and waited.

The official offer to join the UNICEF Private Fundraising and Partnership team in Geneva happened the day before my sorority reunion in April 2010. I was home in Greensburg for the reunion so I broke the news in person to my family. Mixed reactions of pride, hesitancy, and the reality that I’d be leaving the USA hit my family. By contrast, my sorority sisters squealed with happiness for me. Just as in our years at PITT, my Alpha Delta Pi sisters celebrated my joy with hugs, encouragement, and a celebratory toast! A day later, Ed met me at the Kansas City Airport with a bouquet of balloons! We were on our way to a new life experience.

When this excitement happened, we were in Independence, Missouri, a place with historic connections to the United Nations, my new global employer. Ceremoniously, I visited the UN Peace Plaza. The statuette mimicked my joy. Ed took photos of me standing where is estimated Switzerland to be located on the world mosaic in the plaza of the Temple of the Community of Christ. This was meant to happen to me as if the story was being written with a transitional beginning and end. Ed and I started our RV road trip on Independence Day 2007; now our road trip would end in Independence, Missouri. What a perfect beginning and perfect ending.

“We’d like to in Geneva before the end of the summer,” I heard my new boss say over the phone. In June, I signed the UNICEF contract agreeing to serve two years with UNICEF as a Global Fundraising Specialist focused on Major Donors. I took two months to whittle down my already sparse possessions to even less than when we compressed things from our Texas home to six trunks stacked in Mom’s basement. With three suitcases each, Ed and I boarded an August Continental flight which brought us to Switzerland.


Hessia Fernandes said...

Dear Patty,

I have just come across your blog when typing UNICEF Switzerland and your story moved me. i have myself applied for positions with UNICEF in Switzerland and I am really hoping that the outcome of my application will be as successful as yours. Having worked for the last 10 years in the private sector managing and generating huge amount of revenues and profits for multinational companies, I woke up a few months ago wanting to do just that for more than just the bottom line but also for a purpose. I have applied to a number of positions (One as a Corporate Alliances Specialist (Account Management) and 3 as Business development Managers reporting to the Chief of Marketing and Business development).

i am very proactive and very resourceful and will always close deals but this time I hope for a good cause.

I am sure you are very busy in your new life and also in your new role but if you do get a minute, I would really appreciate if you could give me some tips or guidance in how to join UNICEF. I thank you very much in advance and i wish you great luck in your new life in Switzerland. Regards. hessia Fernandes

Termite said...

Dear Hessia: Working for UNICEF Switzerland is an honor and privilege. I would be happy to talk to you about your career aspirations. Please fell free to call me at UNICEF if you want to have a live discussion. There are many opportunities with charitable organizations which I would be happy to discuss with you. Warm regards, Patty