Director, Statistics Division at United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
Industry: Public Policy
Director, Statistics Division - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
January 2009- Present (6 years 5 months)Beirut
My duties focus on managing and leading the UN work on statistics as a tool for policy making in the Western Asia region, in cooperation with other partners in the Arab region. This work covers institutional building of the statistical system, capacity development in various technical areas of statistics, as well as support to data users within and outside the Organization.
I succeeded in consolidating the Statistics Division and converting it to a dynamic unit with a productive work environment. This involved rearranging the structure of the Division, improving internal collaboration, and improving communication with member countries. The Statistics Division adopted a vision of becoming a house of expertise. Under my leadership the Division gradually decreases dependence on external consultants, and uses professional substantive skills of its staff. This resulted in an improved image of ESCWA within the regional statistical community, but also in a greater job satisfaction of the staff.
My initiative of formulating a strategic vision for official statistics until 2016 was welcomed by the heads of national statistical offices, who actively contributed to its final formulation. As a result they feel ownership and trust to ESCWA's statistical work programme, and the work of the Statistics Division focuses on strategic goals rather than on implementation of isolated outputs.
I initiated active cooperation with several regional organizations active in statistics, and in this way we collectively achieved a more efficient use of limited resources, as well as improved the synergies of statistical work.
Chief, User Services Section - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
October 2005 – January 2009 (3 years 4 months)Geneva Area, Switzerland
The Section under my leadership was responsible for intergovernmental activities (development of standards and recommendation and coordination of work) on substantive areas related to statistical infrastructure. At the same time the Section assumed responsibilities for budget and programme planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as responsibilities for databases, websites, publications and communication with external clients.
The internal services also included graphics design for all ECE publications and liaison with the Conference Services Division in this respect.
Under my leadership we consolidated the statistical information assets of the Division and of the whole ECE. In particular, we introduced a new dissemination system, including a new structured method of work based on a common quality framework. The Section ensured consistency and improved quality of final products.
During my leadership the work of intergovernmental teams of specialists was refocused from seminar-like meeting to practical outputs. Teams of specialists worked continuously throughout the year. We extensively used video and audio conferencing to work of all teams of specialists. The Steering Group on Management of Statistical Information System was became a prototype used to forming other teams throughout the Division and the ECE. I would like to emphasise that each team has a mandate up to two years only, and its renewal is subject to a rigorous review.
With respect to external data users the Section centralised the helpdesk to users. I initiated implementation of a helpdesk software and development of business rules that predefined how are request from various categories of users treated (e.g. governments, media, researchers, professors, students, NGOs, public, etc.). In order to ensure quality and satisfaction of users, the helpdesk routed questions to specialists within the ECE and monitored of answers (timeliness, quality, ..
Chief, Dissemination and Statistical Information Systems Section - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
April 2002 - September 2005 (3 years 6 months)Geneva Area, Switzerland
This Section was developed, under my leadership, as an intermediate step towards the User Services Section. The focus was primarily on exchange of experience and best practices among member countries in the cross cutting areas related to information systems (databases, metadata, data quality control, GIS) and dissemination.
I focused on profiling and streamlining activities that I inherited in a rather thinly spread setup. Based on my proposals to the intergovernmental machinery, various streams of activities were merged and profiled according to emerging needs of member countries. In doing so we gained a trust and support of member countries and other partners. We successfully enlarged our scope of with international organizations, including non-UN agencies. This laid foundation for the ECE's teams of specialist being central points of the international work on methodologies related to statistical information system, statistical metadata, dissemination and communication of statistics, statistical disclosure control and statistical data editing.
We prepared for consolidating external and internal activities on statistical information systems, communication and dissemination under a single section.
Acting Chief, Information Systems Unit -United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
June 2001 - April 2002 (11 months)Geneva Area, Switzerland
I was responsible for management of the IT operations of the ECE Secretariat pending recruitment of the new Chief of the Information Systems Unit. Owing to the lack of coordination mechanism, this involved management of the day-to-day operations, as well as coordination directly with ECE divisions on strategic and managerial issues related to human, technical and financial resources.
I initiated introduction of a new paradigm of IT management at the ECE. The traditional approach in which individual divisions and sections managed individual workstations was replaced by a centralised and conceptual management of IT resources. To promote collaboration between clients and providers, I established a group of the IT Focal Points that assembled all IT skilled staff from various divisions. This network was important as a link to users, as well as a tool for fostering transparency in the IT management.
During my tenure we unified versions of the operating systems and office software. We undertook a major replacement of workstations and set unified criteria and standards throughout the ECE. We also provided a centralised training to all IT skilled staff. This was a success not only from a technical and budgetary viewpoint, but also because we created a partnership throughout the ECE, where the Information Systems Unit, IT Focal Points and managers at all levels worked together.
Statistician, CES and Social and Demographic Statistics Team - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
February 1998 - June 2001 (3 years 5 months)Geneva Area, Switzerland
From the content viewpoint my work was twofold. I continued support to the Secretariat of the Conference of European Statisticians in efforts for international cooperation within the ECE region. With my promotion I intensified my involvement in demographic and social statistics. I worked mainly on population and housing censuses, on migration statistics and on the use of administrative registers and records for demographic and social statistics. In this respect my work involved work on guidelines and recommendations, organizing seminars and training workshops and publishing good practices.
I did not formally supervise any employee, but I had a leadership role within intergovernmental and expert groups. I also directed the general service staff with respect to data collection and processing (migration statistics). My work required direct cooperation with senior staff and experts from 50 or so partner agencies. My work also involved direct cooperation with the senior constituency of the intergovernmental machinery.
In servicing the Conference of European Statisticians and its subsidiaries I gained trusts of heads of national and international statistical offices and their senior staff. Through this work I learned a lot about strategic planning, interagency coordination and handling complex procedural issues between organizations based on different mandates. Since those days I feel to be a member of the statistical community, and I benefit from these contacts and experiences until my present work.
In the area of population and migration statistics I successfully organized capacity development programmes tailored to developed countries and to countries in transition. In particular I facilitated a work of a Task Force that developed realistic recommendations on migration statistics through identifying a minimum set of indicators available in most of member countries.
Associate Statistician, CES and Social and Demographic Statistics Team - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
November 1994 - January 1998 (3 years 3 months)Geneva Area, Switzerland
My primary task was to assist the Secretary of the Conference of European Statisticians in undertaking his coordination tasks. I undertook lead assignments in programme coordination with other international organisations within and outside the UN System. I liaised with the senior staff of those organizations. In this context I also coordinated programme and budget planning and monitoring for the Division.
At the same time continued my work on a pilot project on electronic data interchange. In particular I was a lead trainer in several training and capacity development workshops on statistical information management financed by the UNDP and executed by the ECE.
I gained trust and recognition from senior officials of national and international statistical agencies. My work outputs provided a key tool for coordination and steering of the international statistical work of around 50 agencies active in the ECE region. In order to improve communication, I launched a website for delegates and for dissemination of parliamentary documents – in mid 1990s this was a rather innovative approach.
I was recognised as an expert on statistical modelling for data exchange and information systems. I inspired several undertakings within the ECE and in partner agencies.
During this period I acquired basics of expertise in social and demographic statistics, in particular issues related to population, gender, time use and health.
Associate Statistician, Electronic Data Processing Team - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
April 1992 - October 1994 (2 years 7 months)Geneva Area, Switzerland
I worked, within the Electronic Data Processing Team, on projects on data processing, metadata, data editing and GIS. I had a key role in the European Union led project on electronic data interchange. Within this project I participated in exchange and collection of macroeconomic data -- to be used for the ECE economic analysis.
I launched a trial electronic data collection from countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This trial focused on selected economic statistics needed for economic analysis of the ECE. This was the very first practical pilot use of the standard known as GESMES (Generic Statistical Message). While this was a rather small scale pilot project (involving ECE, about 10 national statistical offices and the Interstate Statistical Committee of the CIS), it inspired the birth of an international standard known today as SDMX (Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange). Based on the trial I have demonstrated the ideas of GESMES to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). They brought this to a large scale implementation and initiated a constitution of the SDMX consortium consisting of IMF, OECD, EU, BIS, ECB, UN and World Bank.
Research Assistant and Chief of the Centre for Educative Software - Commenius University, Faculty of Mathematics and physics
June 1988 - April 1992 (3 years 11 months)Bratislava, Slovakia
I worked as a professional software designer and as a Chief of the software centre responsible for design and development of software for the needs of the University, primarily for educational purposes. Furthermore, I directly participated in the educational process through teaching various subjects of informatics, statistics and mathematics.
At the same time I had part-time teaching contracts with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Construction Engineering Faculty of the Slovak technical University -- subjects of probabilities and mathematical statistics and mathematical analysis.
As a team leader, I completed a functional and an object model of the university information system. Systems like this are known today as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Management Systems (CMS). I involved also a group of students in this project. This work necessitated that I provided an extracurricular training to students and colleagues who continued the work.
I gained a respect, with respect to management issues, from more senior staff at the University. I contributed to the creation of a consolidated library at the faculty. I took part in a group that introduced desktop publishing into a routine process, and I helped to develop a specialised desktop publishing unit (including training of the new staff). There was a visible effect on quality of publications, as well as on decreased costs.
I achieved several research projects and completed my PhD study.
Research and Teaching Assistant - Slovak Polytechnics, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
September 1984 - June 1988 (3 years 10 months)Bratislava, Slovakia
I worked on research projects on biomechanical engineering and technical measurements, as well as teaching mathematics and statistics.
I achieved successes, as a member of a team, in research projects, some of which related to selection of the most efficient treatment in medical practice. My role was in analysis of data.
I was particularly proud for respect that gained for my teaching work. I had a very good feedback on my teaching and other pedagogical activities from students and from professors leading the courses. This recognition was also evidenced by offer of employment from another university. During this time I also coordinated an international exchange of students for technical experience within the faculty.