Cheryl Pearce - Force Commander, Cyprus
Force commander in Cyprus. Look, it occurred in 2018. I was a commandant at the Australian Defence Force Academy at the time. And doing a quick scan through my career prior to that, I had a lot of the prerequisites that were required, which was that I had served in the UN before, which was in East Timor in 2002.
I had commanded overseas in Afghanistan. I was currently an appointment of a one-star command position, which was ADFA. I had done higher Defence College, and I'd commanded a unit, which was the Military Police Battalion. So I had all the prerequisites that was required. And they were looking for a major general, I didn't yet have that... I didn't meet that pre-req. But I was very fortunate that the organisation, that Defence knew of my background. And they did a selection and it was put up to the chief of the defence force at the time, as being Australia's nomination for the position. And then, that was in probably June of 2018.
And then did a normal application or was nominated. I had to do a full history and an application. And then when I went through the process of being shortlisted. And then I had to do a full interview with panel with the UN. And the selection only came through in November, in mid-November.
I was actually in Hawaii after just finishing the New York Marathon. I was on the way back and got the heads up by the chief of Defence Force that I was a successful candidate. And realizing, looking back, it's been a lot more about both myself for my strengths, and I won the position, but it's also very political. It's about Australia winning the position as well. So it's about member states with the UN and the balance across nations.
There's also a desire to have more females within the UN. And so that was, in some ways, a positive discrimination for me. I was definitely the best on merit, but that being a female was also an advantage both for Australia and for the UN, to be able to serve in Cyprus and with the UN more broadly.