Unveiling Sustainable Solutions with our innovative Project Assistant of UNDP Accelerator Lab in Thailand – Gigi Sariddichainanta

Catalysts of Change: Advancing Gender Equality Through Empowerment #FacesofUNDPThailand

June 10, 2024


1. Tell us about yourself: What’s your educational background/professional experience?  

I got my bachelor’s degree in fine art with a major in graphic design at the University of Tennessee at Martin and my master’s degree in negotiation and conflict resolution, focusing on international conflicts and social psychology, at Columbia University. After finishing a bachelor’s degree, I worked as an assistant designer at a fashion design company in New York and as a customer solution analyst at a European FMCG company. During my master’s degree, I did internships with the Thai Trade Center, the Department of International Trade Promotion, and the Permanent Missions of Thailand to the United Nations, New York.

2. What made you apply to work with UNDP Thailand?

A development field caught my interest when I studied for my master’s degree. I took a seminar class where we must act as diplomats or UN officers to solve development issues, such as environment, food security, gender equality, health crises, and technology disruption. The professor enhanced students’ skills in finding the connections between issues and stakeholders that obstruct the SDGs. I became fascinated by the various solutions that my classmates proposed. The class atmosphere encourages me to think innovatively by exchanging ideas and presenting perspectives with classmates from different continents. Combining academic experience with the internship experience that I gained from the United Nations in New York, I decided to apply for the job at UNDP Thailand, which has projects that match my interests the most.

3. What are your activities or main responsibilities? What is a day at the office like?

My main responsibilities are operations and administrative management, coordinating with external partners for project activities and implementations, suggesting solutions that ensure the smooth implementation of the projects, conducting research on development issues, and graphic design. As a project assistant at the Accelerator Lab, it is very important to think comprehensively about project management. It is not only about finishing my day-to-day job; I also need to strategize about budget management and implementations to ensure sustainable outcomes. It is important to think, step forward, and be mindful of unintended consequences. The project assistant is not a position that only follows orders from supervisors. This position is about supporting each other to maximize the team’s capacities and ensure transparency and accountability.

There are various dynamics in the office. The UNDP emphasizes diversity, equality, and inclusion. We always explore significant, diverse perspectives from officers from different backgrounds, which broadens our horizons. I have received many opportunities to support and observe other projects. There are times that I discover tools that are useful to my team as well. For example, working with my colleagues who are people with disabilities allows me to see the inclusivity approach better, and that’s helped me understand the concept of reducing inequalities even more.


Photo Courtesy: UNDP Thailand


4. What are some of the challenges you encountered while working at UNDP Thailand? How did you overcome it?   

The organizational system is the most challenging thing for me when working at UNDP Thailand. International organizations have different systems and protocols than the private sector and government agencies. Even among international organizations themselves, there are different protocols, cultures, and atmospheres. The UNDP management system is very difficult to understand at first due to its high level of complexity. I can’t fully apply the system from the private sector or ministries to the UNDP. I can only choose some of them to apply to increase efficiency in my work.

To overcome the challenge, I need to have a growth mindset. In my opinion, a challenge is another form of assignment that I need to achieve. If I don’t understand assignments, I must consult my colleagues or supervisors, take notes, and ensure that I can process them on my own next time. When facing challenges, I always recall the moment when I prepared the applications and documents to apply for the UNDP and how much I wanted to work here. Unless I try my best but still do not achieve results, giving up is not an option.

5. Tell us about your favourite moment with UNDP Thailand. 

My favourite moment is the office retreat. It’s not very often that all colleagues from every project will work at the office at the same time because many of us must travel to other provinces to monitor the situation on the ground. The office retreat allows staff from different projects to get to know each other and develop a good relationship. It is a time when we exchange stories about other projects and our experiences, both professional and personal. More importantly, the activities at the office retreat were very respectful to staff and allowed us to relax. After the office retreat, I developed a stronger bond with colleagues, which led to better cooperation across teams and departments.

6. How does this position benefit your career path/choices within the UN or beyond?  

Being a project assistant enables me to become more proficient in various areas of project management, for instance, data analysis, communication, and negotiation. UNDP works always push me beyond limits and utilize all the skills that I earned from previous academic and professional experiences to maximize the outcomes. With support from supervisors, I got a chance to work with other teams quite often. Exploring a variety of development topics and being trained to think strategically and comprehensively about projects will benefit me in planning my career path.



7. What SDGs are you helping to implement through your position?   

Although the Accelerator Lab projects implement all SDG goals in every process, some goals are often presented to the public.

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities One of the projects at the Accelerator Lab is Community-Based Tourism for All. It’s not only focused on sustainable tourism through local empowerment and a sustainable environment but also on inclusiveness by using a co-creation approach that helps people with disabilities enjoy travelling. Another activity is running with people with disabilities. I got a chance to be a guide runner for them. This activity aimed at equal participation in sports with persons with disabilities.

Goal 13: Climate Action: The Accelerator Lab launched the ‘Clean Air Without Border’ innovation challenge to tackle air pollution and PM2.5. Aside from climate action, this activity also combined several SDGs, such as Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, into our main practices.

Goal 17: Partnership for the goal is my concentration on strengthening partnerships with existing partners and supporting the formation of networks with new stakeholders. We cannot achieve sustainable development goals by ourselves alone. The public and private sectors, civil society, youth, and vulnerable groups are significant mechanisms for a sustainable society.

8. As UNDP staff, how do you support gender equality through your role or the work you are currently working on?

Because the organization emphasizes including gender lenses in every project, I usually spend my time learning about gender perspectives and providing opinions and suggestions about strategizing gender lenses in project activities.

I also conducted research about gender issues and presented the connection between gender and other development issues, such as climate change, when producing social media content. Whenever I attend exhibitions as a representative of UNDP, I usually address the significance of gender equality. Because each person might have a different narration about gender equality, I think that giving examples of real-life scenarios to audiences will allow them to better understand the consequences of gender inequality and inform them that gender equality is not just giving seats to women and LGBTI+ in the meeting; it is about emphasizing respect for all genders as humans, including them in decision-making, and how this process can enhance sustainable development at the macro level.

9. What piece of advice would you give to those who are considering applying to #JoinALifeChangingMission with UNDP?  

I would say to be well prepared. Like other UN organizations, the UNDP selection process is very competitive. I recommend all candidates read information about the UNDP and its core competencies and work so they know whether development fields suit their preferences and can build an application that meets the requirements. The UNDP usually has public activities such as hackathons, conferences, and webinars. I encourage everybody to consider participating in the UNDP’s activities that are advertised on social media, i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, X, and Instagram. You will get a chance to talk with the staff and see a better picture.

10. Give us 3 words that describe UNDP Thailand: 

Diversity, Integrity, Enthusiasm

Photo Courtesy: UNDP Thailand


The Faces of UNDP Thailand is a series to echo the voice of UNDP staff who support UNDP and the community to advance the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


“Do my best on every assignment so I won’t regret it later.”
Gigi Sariddichainanta - Project Assistant