Aurelia Patrizia Calabrò’s Story
Since I was 10 years old my dream was to work for an international organization that would assist in building prosperity and peace for poor countries, especially in the Sub-Saharan African countries. To fulfill this dream, I focalized my studies on international economics, particularly on the theory and politics of socio-economic development. Furthermore, I studied in many countries, getting the opportunity to learn different languages.
When the time came, as I did not want to start a diplomatic career, I looked for opportunities in international organizations of the United Nations as well as the EU. At the university, I came across an advertisement for the JPO Program. I applied in early 1989 to participate in the selection that took place in Rome, Italy, in March of that year. Soon after, I was asked to join UNIDO as Associate Expert (AE) at its Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, to work in the Agro-Industries and Sectoral Support Branch, Leather Unit, in the implementation of a large-scale program entitled: ”Hides and Skins, Leather and Leather Products Improvement Scheme” which covered 8 countries in eastern and southern part of Africa… My dream had come true!
On 2 May 1989, I started my 3-year assignment which was supported by the JPO/AE Program of my country, Italy. I was assigned to serve as AE at UNIDO’s Headquarters in the Agro-Business and Sectoral Support Branch, Leather Unit, Programme and Technical Cooperation Division.
Thanks to my JPO/AE experience, I have gained the following experiences and capabilities:
• Extensive experience in development issues related to Sub-Saharan Africa in the field of agro-industries based on value chains approach, in particular in the leather industry which makes me now a “specialist”.
• Extensive experience in technical cooperation and project management: project identification, formulation, implementation and monitoring & evaluation.
• Working knowledge and experience with other international organizations’ institutional frameworks, policies, procedures, programmes and tenders (e.g. EUC, UN Agencies, World Bank as well as bilateral donors like USAID).
• Participated in preparing strategies and improving organizational settings of international organizations.
• Built international image and relevance of agri-business sectors in Sub-Saharan African countries for target beneficiaries.
• Acquired a strong technical background combined with excellent interpersonal skills in a multi-cultural context.
After having spent 4 years and 3 months in the Regional Office in Ethiopia as Senior Industrial Development Officer from October 2006 to December 2010, I came back to Vienna as Chief of the Entrepreneurship Development and Human Security Unit. Since September 2014, I have been the Chief of the Agro-Industries Technology Division, which is one of the 3 Divisions that the Agro-Business Development Department is comprised of. This Division is responsible for the technology aspects of agro-based industries in textile, leather and wood, as well as agricultural tools for value added and job creation. Emphasis is placed upon the design and implementation of programmes, serving sustainable development needs of the agri-businesses and related industries, including its environmental needs to be developed by governments, industries, private sector agencies, and NGOs targeting poor communities to become more resilient. The division provides technical support to enhance demand-oriented vocational technical skills for employment creation and entrepreneurship for sustainable development.
I owe my entire career to UNIDO considering that I started at the age of 22 and a half! I was very lucky to meet a supervisor Mr. Juhani Berg, who was appreciative of young professionals and invested in me. I developed to be an expert in a very important industrial sector, i.e. leather and leather products, and met with very interesting professionals throughout the years. UNIDO also allowed me to travel all around the world and played the role of eye-opener to other cultures and socio-economic business models. I really enjoy working for this organization!