"Anything is achievable, if you believe you can"

March 31, 2022

Elissa says she feels fortunate when requested to travel on mission and to visit duty stations in the provinces.

On a regular day, Ms. Elissa Cavanagh, the UN's Common Services Manager in Papua New Guinea oversees support services for UNDP and other UN agencies. She oversees the common premises budget, coordinating payments, property and communication needs of all duty stations across the country.

Elissa says she feels fortunate when requested to travel on mission and visit duty stations in the provinces. Being out in the field really puts things into perspective, she says.

“It gives me a sense of appreciation and pride, to be working with an organization like the United Nations, who is impacting, changing, and improving peoples lives."

Elissa comes from a mix of cultural heritage: Gavuone (maternal) and Kapari (paternal) from the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. She is the last of five children born to parents, the late Mr Onea Thavala and Mrs. Eileen Thavala.

“My husband and I have four beautiful blessings - my sons, and daughters. Together we are Team Solo!”

Elissa studied at Pacific Adventist University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business – Office Administration in 2007. She was elected President for Southern Region Students Association and was also an advisor to the Student Council.

“15 years later, I am a student once again, already four weeks into my Executive Master of Business Administration programme at the University of Papua New Guinea."

With such a hectic schedule, Elissa always remains focused. She says that her drive comes down to two things: her children, and always striving for success.

“I believe my children reflect my influence as a parent, to guide them through life. I constantly aim to be a positive example through my actions,” she said.

“Success is another motivating factor for me, at an early age my late dad instilled in me that anything is achievable if you believe you can, he taught me to always strive for success”.

At the United Nations, Elissa is most motivated by the global goals to eradicate poverty and to reduce inequalities and exclusion, particularly in Papua New Guinea.

Away from the Office, Elissa dedicates weekends to her main passion, arts and craft.