“I saw how local people appreciated our work and felt their gratitude”
Aidai Kudaibergenova, Admin/HR Associate, UNICEF Kyrgyzstan
Tell us a bit about your background
I grew up in Naryn, a province in eastern Kyrgyzstan, in a family of doctors. My grandfather was a surgeon, my father is a pediatrician and my mother an ophthalmologist. I have a younger brother who has been living in Beijing for the last ten years. This year he completed his second master’s degree and he is currently working for the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I am very proud of my family; they are my heroes. Since childhood, I’ve been very active and attended different contests, what we call ‘olympiads.’ One of my biggest achievements was to win the FLEX programme which gave me the opportunity to live in the U.S. and expand my horizons. Later, I graduated from the American University in Central Asia, majoring in HR. I am currently studying Accounting and Audit in my free time.
What do you do?
As an Admin/HR Associate, I manage recruitment processes and placement, facilitate travel arrangements, support in the processing of entitlements and benefits, and ensure payroll accuracy. In addition, I supervise drivers and vehicle administration.
What’s your working day like?
I wake up early, and take a little time to review my to-do list. My working day usually starts with coffee and e-mail. Afterwards I respond to urgent tasks, supporting programme colleagues on managing HR, travel and admin processes. During the day, I have meetings and calls with colleagues, and also interact with many other people. Before leaving, I check for new policies or procedures.
How would you describe your job to a 5-year-old?
My job has a strange name – Administration and Human Resources. What it means is that my job is all about people, and supporting them. It is my job to make sure we find people to work with us. It is important to make sure that someone’s work changes the lives of children. I make sure that everyone gets paid their money for work and travel. That is very important, because adults need money to pay for food and house, and to buy toys for children. I do everything I can to make the workplace a nice place where people feel happy. An important part of my job is to answer questions, and to do that, I am always reading to learn new things.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I knew, even in kindergarten, that I wanted to work for UNICEF. It was the time when UNICEF first launched programmes in rural areas in Kyrgyzstan. I was five years old, and our teacher explained to us that the people from UNICEF were kind, helping children to grow and be good. They traveled high in the mountains and gave food, medicines and books to children in need. In the future, if we wanted to work for UNICEF, we would have to get the best grades in school, and be obedient.
How/when did you join UNICEF?
I joined UNICEF in 2009 as a volunteer in the Health and Nutrition section. After graduating university in 2011, I supported the operations section in preparing for audit. From 2012, I worked as an Administrative Assistant, and recently I was reassigned as Admin/HR Associate. I am growing up with UNICEF.
What are the most satisfying parts of your job?
I am very proud to know that my daily work at UNICEF is helping improve children’s lives. I feel satisfied when I see children laughing and playing without any worries. I feel satisfied working with smart people who really care about the work they do.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Multi-tasking, responding accurately and swiftly to urgent tasks, and meeting deadlines.
What’s your best UNICEF experience/memory?
One of my best experiences with UNICEF is being involved in organizing an Executive Board Mission to Kyrgyzstan. During this mission, we went on a field visit, and I got to see how our projects are implemented in schools, medical facilities, and kindergartens, and how they are affecting children’s lives. I saw how local people appreciated our work and felt their gratitude.
What’s one of the biggest risks you’ve ever taken in your life?
When I was 17, on a whim, I took my father’s car and went alone driving around the city – without actually knowing how to drive. It was during the evening, and as it got darker, I realized that I was driving without headlights. I could not see the road. I was driving very slowly, and other drivers were shouting at me that I was a threat to traffic safety. Luckily, I got home without incident.
What are your passions? How do you spend your free time?
I like doing everything that makes me feel good and happy. I love travelling and exploring new places, I like reading books, learning to play new songs on the piano, and baking with my mom’s recipes. I admire my big traditional family and we get together on different occasions.
What advice would you give others who are seeking a similar job as yours?
Never give up and work hard to develop yourself in everything, be it knowledge, skills, cooking, language, relationships, and so on. No matter what is happening in the world, treat people the way you want to be treated.
Who do you look towards for inspiration?
My eternal source of inspiration are my parents. They taught me to never give up, and to make every effort to achieve my dreams. As I mentioned my parents are doctors, and so I learnt from them, at a very early age, the importance of caring, being respectful of other people, and being thankful for what we have. My family has given me endless love and support.
My colleagues don’t know that…
I play the piano and I have a diploma with honours in fortepiano and chorus classes. I can be a music teacher.