Making a Mark in the United Nations

Mark Gibb's pictures of Jordan, Sudan and Washington, DC, where he has worked in the United Nations system.

Mark Gibb (Executive MBA, 2013) has had a 16-year career working in the United Nations (UN) system.

Working in international security, Mark is responsible for keeping staff safe so that international organisations can deliver their mandates securely and, therefore, sustainably. He has worked with various UN organisations in the developmental and humanitarian sector. He now works for the International Monetary Fund, headquartered in Washington DC.

Following his graduation from Stirling University, Mark joined the Canadian Armed Forces. His first assignment with the UN was in 2005 in Iraq. He went on to have a global career with nine international moves covering the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.

In 2011, he enrolled in a two-year Executive MBA with Lancaster University after stepping into a new role as the Chief Security Officer for a UN agency whose mandate is focused in the Middle East.

"I had worked in many demanding UN country operations. However, working at the organisational level and having to navigate the personalities and interests of a diverse senior management team was a dramatic shift," says Mark.

Mark found himself dealing with organisational problems – issues of strategy, planning, execution, and doing business in challenging and often higher risk operating environments. He needed to get quickly up to speed, and the Lancaster MBA provided the opportunity to prepare himself for his new role.

"From the first module, I was picking up information, case studies and best practices that I could apply. There was a lot of urgency to start getting a return on my time. I had a young family, and I was in a high-pressure job trying to keep staff safe in a challenging regional context. What I learned, I applied quickly.”

The growth in knowledge and skills from the two-year MBA not only supported Mark’s success during his first senior role, but has also shaped his career ever since. "The MBA provided the lever I needed to progress my career in the direction I desired,” he says.

Mark sees two clear benefits from completing the MBA, and adds: “Within the UN, a Masters is required to advance your career, access opportunities for greater responsibility, or to move to a headquarters role. While I held a Masters in Public Policy and Administration, it was the Executive MBA from Lancaster that differentiated my profile within the competitive global job market.

“The second benefit is that the knowledge you gain through the MBA is practically applicable to your organisation and team, pretty much immediately you can start delivering at a much higher level. For example, I learned from the professors and my peers how to better analyse the operating environment, understand organizational dynamics, design change management strategies, and organise better operational results.”

While the world of business is ever-changing, Mark sees the principles he learned on the Lancaster MBA as being ‘universal’, applying across the many different roles, organisations, cultures and country contexts in which he has worked.

“These principles imparted by Lancaster, what I gained from discussions with professors and colleagues, are universally applicable, and adaptable for the local context globally; whether that be in Sudan, Jordan or Washington, DC,” he says.

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