Monica Dyer of the United Nations: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is Monica Dyer, whose desire to make a difference in the lives of others led her to a position at UN Women based in New York where she promotes accountability for gender equality and the empowerment of women across the United Nations system…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I work for the United Nations. Specifically, I work for the UN’s newest entity that focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN Women). I work on promoting accountability for gender equality and the empowerment of women across the UN system.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I know this is cheesy but I have always wanted to do something that I felt made a difference in the lives of others. Gender equality and the empowerment of women is also something that I have been very passionate about since a young age. I first worked for the United Nations as an intern in the Office of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Gender Issues during my Masters. It was an incredible opportunity that motivated me to gain the experience needed to return as a staff member. After a few years working for the Ontario Government, and then as an independent consultant based in Toronto, I was recently hired by UN Women based in New York.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do is regularly interact with hundreds of staff members from across the entire UN. My current project involves coordinating the work of over 250 individuals from more than 55 UN departments and agencies. I am constantly meeting incredibly smart and passionate people with some pretty amazing stories to share. The most challenging part of my job is trying to manage a very large network that is scattered all over the world and has very different needs. Needless to say, I am on the phone and online at all times of the day.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
My work features prominently in my dreams. It’s getting to a point where I can’t remember what was accomplished in real life or in my dream. It’s problematic.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to be challenging myself both professionally and personally. The specifics are unknown. I have no idea where I’ll be in five years and there is something both exciting and motivating about that. 

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My age. It can be difficult for people to see you beyond your youth. I think that I have been able to overcome this by demonstrating a certain level of maturity and political acuity.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is being content with yourself and the life you have created.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Being offered my new post with the UN. It was a goal I had been working towards for a long time. It felt like a true achievement after a lot of hard work.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be kind. Honestly, it is amazing how far kindness will get you. When I say “kindness” I do not mean sucking up to others, I mean being a genuine team player that listens to and helps others. Also, put yourself into positions where you are indispensible. In order to do so you must work hard to become such an asset that they cannot even fathom not hiring you full-time or promoting you.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
The Harbord Room. The food is consistently excellent, the atmosphere is cozy, and the staff are incredibly friendly.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
With friends. I am very fortunate to have an amazing group of friends who keep me laughing and somewhat sane.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
This is a very difficult question to answer. I have travelled extensively and have genuinely fallen in love with many of the places I have visited. I recently travelled to Morocco and already want to return. The food, architecture, people and markets were incredible.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would own a store full of amazing pieces for the home that I curated from all parts of the world. It’s as far from my current job as you can get but I love all things interior design. I also cannot travel without bringing home at least one great find. I bought 11 rugs in Morocco. 11!

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support a number of charities, including Kiva, Plan International, Oxfam and WSPA.

What to you is notable?
Selflessness. It’s so rare.

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