Cheryl Pearce - Learning on the run

Running time
2 min 14 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Normally, you would go through New York on your way in, and have all the induction. You have a week of induction. And then a week of induction to the UN, then a week of induction to force commander. But due to the delay in the process was that I needed to go straight to Cyprus. So I knew what the mandate was. I had done a lot of preparation for the interview, and so I'd done a lot of work up about what Cyprus was, what the political situation, the environment, the UN contribution and a bit more of the history. So I had done my own research for it.

I landed into Cyprus on the 5th of January, 2019. And literally, was within the first week, the acting SRSG, and head of mission as well, because they needed to leave to go to UN, to renew the mandate, which for Cyprus, the United Nations Security Council mandate for Cyprus was to prevent a recurrence of fighting, to maintain law and order, and to return the country to normal conditions. And the key part for me was prevent a recurrence of fighting.

Understanding the culture of the UN and understanding how the UN worked as an entity, and then how it worked with civil society, with the political environment within Cyprus, and operated with the two opposing forces was something I learned on the run. It was a very much learn by doing. And there was a lot of my background that really assisted me in setting myself up for success.

But equally, the cultural changes in working with the UN was quite stark, that I hadn't realised when I was as a more junior officer with the UN in East Timor. So the differences in that. But leading a multinational force had many similarities, but it was quite nuanced because of the number of nations that contributed to that mission.

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