Natalia Olshanska

Why do you like working for UNDP?

UNDP is a recognized international facilitator of positive changes in countries and communities across the globe. Working for UNDP provides a unique opportunity to personally contribute to a better, greener and wealthier future of my country. UNDP’s balance between ambitious goals, challenging tasks and corporate stability makes it an attractive place to work. Moreover, UNDP is helping me grow both professionally and personally with every new assignment I take. It provides an engaging work environment, wise leadership, interesting professional context, great colleagues, balanced organizational culture and well-defined contractual arrangements. I think it is honorable and prestigious to be a part of UNDP team.


What’s the most memorable occasion when you saw the positive impact your work had on the people in the country where you’re based?

Having been engaged under various UNDP projects primarily impacting the wellbeing of local communities, I was lucky to share many memorable moments of UNDP’s success in helping build better life for Ukrainians. It was a grateful glance of a new mother having brought her newborn baby for his first warm bath just few hours after the birth, while staying at Rivne maternity hospital that got a permanent hot water supply service due to major utilities rehabilitations in the city supported by UNDP. It was a genuine smile of a former factory worker in Korosten’ (a city affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident), recently unemployed and then trained and helped start his small retail business with the support of Korosten’ Entrepreneurship Support Center established by local authorities in cooperation with UNDP. These were also teachers and parents, pupils and babies enjoying more comfortable, healthier and safer work and learning environment ensured due to the new efficient technologies and energy use practices introduced by UNDP projects.

It was a sheer delight and pride for my contribution to help keep people up, keep them full of hope and confidence in their future.


What are some of the challenges of working in a large international civil service organization like UNDP and how do you manage them?

One of the challenges of working in the development field, for example in Ukraine, is a rapidly changing country context that requires a rapid and adequate response. This is often difficult to achieve within a large international civil service organizations lacking corporate flexibility. In the case of UNDP the changing environment requires additional efforts from its staff and experts to quickly learn, evaluate and manage the change; get additional knowledge, acquire expertise and learn, learn and learn. Every project is a new challenge. Every community is unique and needs a specific approach. One solution definitely does not fit all.

Here is where the beauty of a team work and UNDP institutional experience are of great help. Great colleagues around and a number of documented lessons learned from various countries and fields assist in finding a necessary solution to get a result.

So if one is prepared for continuous learning, new tasks and responsibilities, UNDP can provide a unique chance to build an interesting and rewarding career where the “challenge” will really make the difference.


What do you like to do when you are not at work?

There are three great passions in my life – reading, travelling and cooking. Reading gives me genuine rest, lots of food for thought and imagination; it makes me calmer, smarter and obviously a better person. Reading is escape; it is the quickest way to recover from stress and to find a way back to the reality after. Reading in various languages (Russian, Ukrainian, English, Czech and lately Dutch) makes it even more incredible fun and memory exercise!

Travelling is the funniest way to learn the world, its history and mysteries. I enjoy all parts of it – from packing my suitcases to purposeless roaming on the ancient streets, from gorgeous architecture to the taste of local bread and cheese.