Name: Vinicius Lindoso
Title: Communication Officer – UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
How long have you been working for UNESCO?
I started at UNESCO as an intern in January 2014. Then I continued my education at Oxford University in the UK and came back to UNESCO as a consultant. In 2016 I passed the young professional recruitment and became a permanent staff member. I have always been based in France while working for UNESCO.
What is your background? What did you do/study before working for UNESCO?
I was born and raised in Brazil. I have a bachelor’s degree in International Security and French Studies from Yale and a Master of Public Policy from Oxford University. My background is mostly in the field of International Relations. My studies were particularly oriented towards Conflict Resolution, International negotiations, as well as other related fields such as humanitarian crisis and political science. I worked in these fields during my consultancy and internship, especially in the Western Balkans: Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.
What single fact would surprise people the most about you?
The earliest career choice I remember was to become a priest but I quickly realized that I enjoyed the rhetoric/oratory part of it much more than the religion itself.
What first attracted you to work for UNESCO?
What attracted me the most to start my career with UNESCO was the fact that UNESCO was in Paris and that it was the main UN body in France. I always wanted to work for the UN, oriented towards political affairs and conflict resolution. UNESCO was a good entry point for me because it is a body that works in the long-term promotion of Peace. What I did not expect was to be working in environmental issues, but now it has been around five years that I work for UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
What is the best thing about working for UNESCO?
There are actually 2 main elements that I like about working for UNESCO.
On a higher political aspect, it is the legitimacy that you bring to the table. It is a unique type of vector – like a channel between government and the society as well as a channel between governments themselves.
The second element is that working for the UN means we are trying to ensure that global public goods such as Education, Water, the Ocean, etc., are respected and conserved. It’s all about respecting the planetary needs so that everyone can thrive and develop sustainably.
Additionally, in terms of more inter-personal relations, it is about the diversity of the colleagues. You are working with everyone in a multicultural and diverse environment.
What has been your greatest challenge during your career?
My greatest challenge was to actually create a position. At UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, I was the first (and remain the sole) permanent member of staff 100% dedicated to communication. There was no infrastructure at the time, no central coordination. We had to create from scratch, putting together everything, including the line management, to work with the colleagues at HQ and the Field to make IOC’s communications more systematic.
What do you believe is/are the most important skill(s) needed for someone working in an international public sector organisation such as UNESCO?
The first skill I would advise is to be concise. You need to quickly be able to wrap up a lot of information and get to the essentials. As well as to effectively communicate about it. The second skill is resilience at an institution and personal level. It’s not easy to work in the UN system. You always need to work with several people on a horizontal level as well as hierarchically. You must have no fear to challenge your pre-conceptions about anything, whether it is a piece of text or whether it is a big project as you will continuously be challenged. You also have to remind yourself every day what you are doing here and why you are doing it.
Is there anything about working at UNESCO that you did not expect when starting?
I did not have any precise expectations about working for UNESCO. Therefore, there were a lot of good and bad surprises. However, I can say that I was really surprised by the fast-paced nature of work – not always, but many times. In my position at UNESCO, it is really hard to get bored.
What would be the most useful piece of advice you would give to someone who would like to start his/her career in UNESCO?
Ask the people around you. The system is here to help you. It’s not easy to navigate within the organisation but there are a lot of people to help you and guide you. Don’t hesitate to go to them.
Working at UNESCO is a privileged position of being the representative of the world’s most democratic institution which is the United Nations. UNESCO mandate is huge with many different fascinating projects to work for.