alumni Spotlight

December Alumni Spotlight with Ricardo Panchoo, MPA ‘14


This month’s alumni spotlight focuses on an individual who has both breadth and depth of experience working at the United Nations. Ricardo Panchoo tells us about the challenges of the UN’s mission, his Marxe MPA experience, and more.

You’ve been involved in four different departments at the United Nations. Can you talk a bit about the challenges of working at the UN and challenges the UN faces as a whole?
Having moved around a bit, the main challenge/benefit is understanding the mandate of the new job and identifying any linkages to the old office. Even though the UN is a large organization, we are all working towards the same goals (Sustainable Development Goals) and understanding the different but connected roles that each office/arm of the Organization plays is extremely helpful in being a well-rounded employee. Having worked at HQ for almost 9 years, another challenge is staying motivated and passionate about change. Being removed from the delivery of services (takes place in the field) can sometimes have a numbing effect, if you don't take the time to remind yourself why your here.

Why did you join the United Nations Volunteers as a Programme Associate?
Besides being a promotion, it was a chance to work for an agency, and gain familiarity with new systems, ways of working. I'm part of a great organization that helps other UN agencies achieve their development goals through the deployment of skilled, passionate volunteers.

Can you tell us about some of the most meaningful experiences you’ve had with them?
Some of the most meaningful experiences for me has been telling friends and colleagues about the programme and how to become a volunteer. I recently had coffee with a colleague that walked into our office 6 months ago looking for more information on becoming a volunteer. After a few sessions of guiding him through our application process, he applied and was recently accepted to serve in a peacekeeping mission doing a job he really enjoys! (MONUSCO, a United Nations organization, stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.)

What have you been able to achieve that you wouldn’t have without your Marxe MPA?
The UN enjoys a strong brand and as a result, the hiring process is extremely competitive. Having an MPA is relevant and important for the work we do and keeps me competitive in the job market -both internally and externally! For students aspiring for a career with the UN,I would highly recommend the MPA at Baruch and suggest a concentration in policy, healthcare or something in international relations.

Can you tell me what your favorite class was when taking your MPA?
Fundraising with Chris Cloud and Dave Gallagher.The Fundraising class provided students with practical tips on how to make a big ask, while addressing common fears and some misconceptions around fundraising. It was a good change from many other classes that focused on theory without much practical application.