The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is participating in this month's Impactpool Virtual Career Fair for MENA nationals. We managed to sit down with George Ghandour, a Senior Counselor at WIPO and a Lebanese/Swiss national, with an exclusive interview and some fantastic career advice.
Mr Ghandour joined WIPO in 2001, an Intellectual property law specialist with further studies in International Policymaking and Negotiations.
Name: George Ghandour
Job Title: Senior Counselor
Nationality: Lebanese –Swiss
Please could you introduce yourself and tell us about your professional background?
I grew up in Lebanon where I studied law and started my career in the private sector as a legal consultant. I then continued my education in Paris and in Geneva where I specialized in Law and International Policymaking and Negotiations.
Once I completed my studies, I joined WIPO in 2001 for a short-term position and progressed in the organization to my current position of Senior Counsellor in the Development Agenda Coordination Division.
What made you interested in working at the UN and WIPO?
Initially, I joined WIPO to work in my area of speciality, which is intellectual property, and to gain international experience in this field. During my career in WIPO, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to work on several issues related to IP teaching, technical assistance and capacity building for the Arab world, project management, international negotiations and diplomacy. I was so fortunate to have these different experiences as they allowed me to see the value and impact of our Organization and the multilateralism.
What do you do in your role at WIPO?
My role in WIPO is to oversee the implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda Recommendations adopted in 2008. This role includes developing new activities and projects that implement these recommendations across the organization; facilitating discussions on IP and development-related issues and SDGs; enhancing the understanding of the Development Agenda through awareness-raising and capacity building activities, and facilitating the work of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and acting as its Secretariat.
My day-to-day work varies comprising of meetings with diplomats and representatives of IGO’s and NGOs, co-ordinating the DA project implementation across the Organization and with the Member States, drafting working documents for the CDIP, delivering presentations, and participating in activities related to IP and the development of some other aspects of my work.
What do you believe are the most important skills needed to work at a specialized agency such as WIPO?
I believe several skills are essential when working for a specialized agency such as WIPO, namely:
Do you have a personal habit or trait that has been critical for your success?
I am passionate about learning and regard myself as a lifelong learner always striving to improve and grow. I am not afraid to seek mentorship and advice. I believe in cultivating perseverance, networking, and being committed and loyal to my work, which have all served me well throughout my career.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Pursue the things you love doing and then do them well. Take the time to invest in yourself. Be grateful and value the trust your colleagues put in you.
We know that many of our audience would like to hear some advice on how to pursue a career with an international organization such as WIPO, do you have any good tips to share?
Take your career planning seriously, set goals, and make an action plan towards achieving your goals.
When applying to a position, get to know as much as possible about the organization and job you are applying for, and tailor your CV and motivation letter to demonstrate how you fit this position.
Consider opportunities to work through a short-term contract or temporary position, it can open doors for the future.
Apply for jobs that excite you and avoid underselling yourself just to get a job.
This article is a part of Impactpool's Diversity Campaign for MENA, supported by WIPO - curated to address geographic diversity in the sector.