Name: Cheung Ming Yan, Fion
BBA (International Business and Global Management)
The University of Hong Kong
Position: Resource Mobilization Intern, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Duration: September 2018 – February 2019 (6 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace Development Foundation
Supervisor: Sae-Ryo Kim and Peng Jiong
The half year that I have spent in UNFPA China as a resource mobilization intern is certainly one of my most memorable and rewarding life experience. While UN is a term that is always heard in various occasions, its internal systems and inter-agency relationship are complex issues that outsiders might not be able to understand.
Staffed in the resource mobilization team, I worked closely for Sae-Ryo and PJ, the Regional Partnership Advisor and the Assistant Representative respectively. With the purpose of fostering South-South Cooperation (SSC) and establishing partnerships within the private sector to mobilize resources for various programmes, the first thing that I had to do in the beginning of the internship was to thoroughly understand the mission, positioning, funding structure and current partnerships of UNFPA. It took me quite some time to get used to all the UN acronyms and jargons before being able to synthesize all the available information and understand my role.
As I was not a programme-specific staff, I was exposed to a variety of documents, from performing research and due diligence for potential partners to translating and proofreading concept notes and co-financing agreements for partnerships. Such extensive exposure enabled me to understand the internal procedures within UNFPA and how partnerships were exactly established. In addition to paper work, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the meeting with China Foundation Center (CFC), one of the potential partners back then. I was intrigued by the conversation on poverty alleviation with the vice president of CFC, having new insights on how poverty and sexual and reproductive health could be simultaneously addressed. Involved in the entire process of partnership formation with CFC, I realized the importance of aligning the partners’ focused areas with our priorities in successfully establishing partnerships.
Further to partnering with non-profit organizations, UNFPA is currently developing a more extensive partnership network within the private sector. With this aim, I was engaged in preparing pitch decks for private partners with a focus on gender-biased sex selection (GBSS). This was the area in which I could utilize my business knowledge to bridge the gap between the profit-maximizing private companies and the non-profit UNFPA. It was crucial to express the concept of GBSS and other relevant information precisely and concisely in simple terms to arouse interests of our target partners. Conducted research on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns, I gained a better understanding on how private sector could contribute to public interest without hampering profitability. Moreover, visual aids played a significant role in grabbing attention. Hence, I was also able to apply my Powerpoint presentation skills when working on this task.
Apart from daily job duties, I participated in various training workshops and UN events during the internship. In October 2018, I was invited to attend the UN Day. Taking part in the activities on the venue, I could feel the passion of UN personnels and meet participants from other organizations such as Chinese government officials. Furthermore, I attended the GBSS working held in Landmark hotel. With speakers and participants specializing in GBSS research and studies, the presentations and follow-up discussions were highly informative and fruitful, providing me a deeper understanding in the current situation of imbalanced sex ratio in China. There were also other internal trainings, including the communication workshop delivered by APRO officer and lectures on the Chinese political environment conducted by China Policy. These events have extended my exposure beyond the routine tasks, enabling me to have a more comprehensive understanding on the issues faced by UNFPA China and learn to view the world beyond the business framework of profit and loss.
Participating in the UN Day on 23 October 2018
On top of all the knowledge acquired, the most precious takeaway of the internship is the friendship established with my colleagues. UNFPA is a small office, with approximately 20 people, such that I have been able to know and talk to everyone in the office. Given a relatively flat hierarchy in the office, my colleagues did not only offer me generous assistance at work, but also care for my personal life, such as my accommodation arrangements and my interviews. Through mingling with my colleagues, I had the opportunity to learn more about different cultures in China, Korea, Mongolia and Nigeria, as well as their career paths in relation to UN and population development. My colleagues provided me with insights on my future career, and I really hope to return to UNFPA when I have acquired sufficient experience in the private sector.
My internship ended on February 28, which was the first day of the Annual Retreat in 2019. I was happy to spend my last day with all my colleagues. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and experience to work in UNFPA China. I would like to thank my colleagues especially my fellow interns for their company all along, making this internship a even more remarkable life experience. Last but not least, I would like to thank my supervisors for being approachable and insightful throughout the journey. It has been a pleasure, and I believe we will all meet again someday.
Being given the opportunity to represent for my group at the Annual Retreat on 28 February 2019
Taking a group photo with my colleagues at the Annual Retreat on 28 February 2019