The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is participating in this month's Impactpool Virtual Career Fair for MENA. We caught up with Mona Remlawi, the Head of Global Brand and Design Databases and a Lebanese national, with an exclusive interview.
Ms. Remlawi joined WIPO in 2017, she holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer and Communications from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. She is a seasoned Software Engineer, who has pursued a diverse career.
Name: Mona Remlawi
Job Title: Head of Global Brand and Design Databases
"Cherish diversity and treat it as wealth. It is so."
Hi Mona, thank you for your valued time, please could you introduce yourself and tell us about your professional background?
I work in Information Technology (IT), so my job is to make sure that information uses the best technologies to stay alive, healthy and accessible.
Throughout my career, I have produced software and made it available through the Internet. To me, this is magic. It is a way to serve and reach-out to a large audience and yet, remain humble and anonymous. This continues to fascinate me and drive my work today.
I recently also started investing some of my time into coaching and plan to continue next year with applied neuroscience. I am, quite frankly, enamoured by the subject and find that it adds a new dimension to my leadership responsibilities as well as to my general state of being.
What made you interested in working at the UN and WIPO?
I came to a point in my career where I said to myself: I want to do something that has a broad public impact and is significant. The idea of working for a public interest organization matched my aspirations.
What do you do in your role at WIPO?
At WIPO, I currently lead a small team into doing big things. And by big, I don’t refer to size, but to impact and usefulness. We provide public, and free of charge, global search engine tools for different types of intellectual property, such as trademarks and designs.
Search engines give visibility to intellectual property by making it findable and discoverable over the Internet. Global search engines are also unique resources for market research and exploration of the ways that intellectual property is evolving and the directions in which it is expanding.
I’m sure that many of our listeners know about WIPO but there might also be some people who are quite unsure about what WIPO does. So could you please tell us a bit about what is it that WIPO is doing and its mandate?
WIPO’s mandate is to support innovation and creativity through the use of intellectual property. In other words, it is the Organization that ensures that we to continue to live in a world driven by creativity and innovation. We need creativity as a universal means of communication and as an outlet for our ideas and emotions. And we need innovation in order to advance and sustain.
Where are the most common transition points to working at WIPO? (examples in the public and non-profit sector, and in the private sector)
Working for a non-profit organization, one has a lot to gain, both on the impact level and on the personal level. It is not just a secure job, it is a way of life, a code of conduct framed by a larger vision and more sensitivity to what is happening in different parts of the world.
It is also a different mindset. Even though you have a supervisor and probably some others on top, you know that you are also reporting and answering to member states and the population they represent.
The most important lessons that you would like to share with our audience who want to pursue an international career?
Whichever organization you aspire to join, align your motivation with the organization’s mandate. Whether it is to address world conflicts, human rights, trade routes, creativity and innovation, health and healthcare... make it your cause and your pride.
Do you have a personal habit or trait that has been critical for your success?
It is common to say: I have followed my passion. But I have twisted it a bit and let passion walk next to me in anything that I do.
Passion does not belong to an activity or a role, it belongs to us and we can bring it out and sprinkle it throughout our day.
So rather than following your passion, seize opportunities and sprinkle some passion on them. Then another opportunity will appear in the horizon, seize it again and repeat.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
A career is not only an income, it is a life investment. It is, well for most of us, what we choose to do for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. So choose wisely, because there will come a time when you look back and ask yourself, “what have I offered?”.
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?
Multiculturalism in international organizations is not accidental; it is by design. So having people with different nationalities, backgrounds and cultures, sitting around the same table, discussing the same subject, is a scene that is not only exclusive to town halls and large assemblies. It is also the scene in our meeting rooms, team gatherings and, of course, our cafeterias.
So my advice is to welcome everything new with a new curiosity. We have something to learn from everyone and everything to learn from those whose life experiences have been completely different from ours. Cherish diversity and treat it as wealth. It is so.
The UN is not only an arena to stand up for what is right but also a place for us, the staff, to grow and expand as humans.
Joining a UN organization is about those two things.
This article is a part of Impactpool's Diversity Campaign for MENA, supported by WIPO - curated to address geographic diversity in the sector.