Francisco Pacheco Vieira
2009 - Francisco Pacheco Vieira is a JPO funded by Portugal and assigned to the UNDP Country Office in Guinea Bissau.
Reach the farther shore...
Where are you from?
I was born in "São Miguel" island, in Azores archipelago (Portugal). Both my parents are Portuguese, and they have been working and living in Azores for more than 50 years. (By the way, if you have the opportunity, do come visit Azores islands; you will not regret it!). I lived there until I was 18, and then moved to Lisbon to start my University studies.
What is your background?
I went to Law School in Lisbon University specialising in economic-legal studies, and then continued with a post-graduate Degree in Socio-Political studies in France (Paris). Later I obtained a Master Degree in European Legal Studies, from the College of Europe (Bruges).
Between studies, I practiced as a lawyer, but soon realised that I would like to work in the "development world". My first job in this area was for the European Commission Delegation in Gabon. After that, I got the (current) JPO assignment in Guinea-Bissau.
What has been your assignment as a JPO?
I started my JPO assignment in May 2007. Since then, I have been working in the UN Resident Office in Guinea Bissau, as a coordination officer. Normally people ask me: "what is UN coordination about"? In a nutshell I would say that it means we work with (and for) all UN funds, programmes, agencies, departments, and offices - in my case those active at country level -, to deliver more coherent, effective and efficient support to recipient countries. This also means that we deal with many different entities and issues - from preparing common strategic documents to implement joint programmes - always focusing in putting all UN actors together in the best (efficient) way.
Which random words come to your mind when thinking about your JPO years?
Dedication, innovation and flexibility.
In what way do you think your JPO assignment has shaped your career?
Maybe it is too soon to know in what extent my JPO assignment has or will shape my career. But, in my opinion, the fact that I gained knowledge and experience both in programmatic and managerial issues, will enable me to work in different areas (programme, management, etc.) and to have a general vision about the development activities.
What are your major lessons learned during your JPO assignment in terms of professional growth, career planning and opportunities?
During my assignment I learned about the importance of "knowledge networks" and information sharing, and realise that they are valuable on-job tools that enable you to better perform both individually and globally. In some societies (commonly in private sector) knowledge and information are (too) valuable assets kept preciously. In that sense, it was a big change (and professional growth opportunity) to work in an "open information entity" such as UNDP, where knowledge is a global and most-valuable asset shared and used to leverage our local activities.
What is your motivation to work in the field of development?
I believe that working for UN I can modestly contribute for a positive development of people and societies. I also like the fact that this work gives me the opportunity to experience new challenges, cultures and meet people from all around the world.
Most enriching professional achievement so far?
I think that the (two) new MDG-F joint programmes will have a concrete impact in the beneficiaries' quality of live, and may be consider a good achievements not only from the Coordination Unit, but from all participating UN agencies (in fact, as explained, much of coordination work is about facilitating and supporting collective achievements). I like to think as a (personal) achievement the fact that during my JPO assignment I was progressively trusted with increasingly complex responsibilities and tasks.
What kind of advice would you give to JPOs?
I think that JPOs as newcomers in UN system can really benefit from the experience and support of more "senior" colleagues, on all kind of issues. In that sense, it can be very beneficial to establish these "Bridges" as soon as possible trough formal "mentoring" process or informal networks.
By the way...
Your crowning glory:
The last favourite book you read:
The last book I read it is called "The Sirene's other Foot" (O outro pé da sereia) from Mia Couto. It is a story that takes place in North Mozambique, mixing the magical, mythical world of Africa with the daily lives of the (author country's) people in past and present. Curiously, I start reading it before going on mission to Mozambique, to the annual JPO training.
Behind the suit:
Someone that loves to do sports and play most sort of games (cards, chess, board games, etc).
"Some people spend their entire lives reading but never get beyond the words on the pages, they don't understand that the words are merely stepping stones placed across a fast-flowing river, and the reason they're there is so that we can reach the farther shore. It's the other side that matters." Jose Saramago (Portuguese novelist, 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature).
I believe inspiration comes from - normally small - things that are around you, and especially from people around you. The challenge is to keep eyes (and mind) open in order to notice the "inspiring elements" on your life.