I started work last Monday after four months of being on paternity leave. Yes, you heard me right, four months. Not many organizations or companies will give you four months to bond with your baby like this. UNICEF is the UN agency of choice not only by our mandate but by the way staff are treated.
As I started work, a lot of people asked me how I adjusted after being away for so long on paternity leave. This, I always replied by saying, when you do what you love adjusting back is easy. My work is exciting, and I enjoy and love it.
This is why I left the private sector for the development sector, it’s my passion. As I reflected on my responses to my friends, I started reflecting on what motivates me to work for UNICEF. One of the things that our office did which I think is intentional is that, as you walk in through the main entrance; you will see the SDGs on the left side of the wall.
This is well-intentioned because right at the beginning of my day, I am reminded that whatever am doing MUST be contributing to the SDGs. This at times makes me always reflect and ask myself, what I am contributing to? This is because I am more of an operational function staff than a program staff. As a fundraising expert, it’s my duty to ensure that we get the funds required, manage these funds and report back to the donors. We have to show that we did not misuse the funds and that we have created the desired impact.
Imagine trying to explain to a donor who gave you millions of dollars that you could not meet their expectations.
These scenarios to me usually mean the taxpayers who have contributed these funds, have done so in vain. This also means that the children or beneficiaries for whom the funding should have helped, are still languishing in poverty and deprivations.
This is why my mission and passion come really from the fact that, if there is no funding; then no activities will take place. Depending on where I have worked before and considering that I currently work for a child-centric agency(UNICEF); my passion is fueled by the fact that each action of mine in the office is helping to save a child from one or more deprivations.
This has really helped me to develop a work ethic of service and passion for what I do.
My second motivation comes from something that I feel many people may take for granted. UNICEF is present in over 190 countries, and there is just something special about working for such an organization.
On a daily basis, our screen savers are changed, and a child from a different country or continent appears on our screen. Whenever I turn on my laptop, the first thing I usually look for is the child on my screen saver.
I spend a few seconds looking at the possible deprivations the child may have and what my colleagues in that country may be doing for that child.
This gives me more energy, as I relate that child to Malawi where I work; and how worse off or better off this child would be if he or she were in Malawi.
This morning routine really energizes me once more to say, I am here because of this child or the child in my community in Malawi.
At the end of the day, whenever I shut down my laptop; and head home to my wife and kids, or shut down while working from home; I feel fulfilled. Also, whenever I am home after a long day at work and look at my kids playing; I smile and say to myself: I may not have changed the world today ( though AID may be dead), if I have made a child in Malawi have another service that they didn’t because of the way I have engaged with a donor, sent their reports, send them updates or send them a proposal on time, then I have changed the world in my own little way.
So, what motivates me? The smiles I put on the faces of the children that most often I do not get to see because I am an operations staff really motivates me.
Whatever your motivation is for doing the job you currently do, look for time and ask yourself what changes am I making in people’s are lives, and what SDGs am I contributing to? Am I a hero in my own little way, or am I just making a living?
Venatius Tsi Fon is Marketing & Fund Raising Expert currently working in UNICEF as Public Partnership Specialist. He has a wide range of experience in Business development, marketing, Fundraising, Communications, Proposal writing, Reporting, Donor relations and Institutional Partnership Development Professional with over ten years of career progression working across West, East and Central Africa in the international NGO Sector and the UN. Venatius writes on International work and travel on PBB. You can follow Venatius on LinkedIn @Venatius Tsi Fon
Now it’s your turn. Tell us in the comment section what motivates you at work?