OCHA's Mueller: My motto is 'Serving humanity with humility'

Wednesday, 03 May 2017

Global | OCHA

An interview with Ursula Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, to talk about her new position and her vision for the future of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Q: What are the biggest challenges that OCHA and the humanitarian system are facing at the moment?

We all know that humanitarian needs are on the rise, mainly due to protracted crises but also due to natural disasters, while at the same time funding is limited. This is why it is essential for OCHA to streamline its processes. We have to do better with less and prove our unique value to humanitarian partners and the people we serve.

Q: What do you want OCHA to accomplish in your first year as Assistant Secretary-General?

Doing better with less means that we have to achieve meaningful change within OCHA. OCHA has to be fit for the future, and we have to build on what is working well and fix what needs to be fixed. My vision is to have a unified OCHA that is relevant to partners and accountable to the people we provide assistance to. To me, trust is key. Cooperation and coordination is all about trusting each other. To build this trust, we need to have clear decision-making, transparency and accountability.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: “Willing is not enough, we must do.” I can identify with that, I’m a doer. My work ethic is to think and do. Don’t be tied up in processes. I am not going to waste my staff’s time in long meetings without outcomes.

Q: What are the main characteristics that you believe every successful leader should possess?

I think every successful leader should show integrity, honesty and respect for every person.

Q: What keeps you awake at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning? 

My motto is “Serving humanity with humility.” It gets me out of bed every morning and gives me great energy. I don’t feel like there’s too much that keeps me awake at night. I’m an optimist!

For the full interview with ASG Mueller, see the OCHA website.