Monday, December 07, 2009

Job No. 81 - WASH Specialist

Have you ever arrived at the train station a little on the late side, dashed relentlessly through the concourse with a motley collection of baggage in tow, barged up (or down) an escalator full of people and emerged, breathless, onto the platform just in time to witness the doors of the train sliding - agonisingly slowly - shut? You stand there, breathless and sweating, and the train still stands there as well (you can't get on, but the conductor perhaps wants to enjoy the moment). Forlornly, you look through the window at the people who are all happily sat and ready for the journey that you're now going to miss. Sometimes they give vague sympathetic smiles.

Well, that was how I feel today having missed out, by the narrowest of margins, on a job that seemed just the sort of thing I should be doing with my life - Director of the NATO Undersea Research Centre. How could I not be perfect for this job? After all, I've played Battleships, I've read The Hunt for Red October - I've even watched all 39 episodes of Stingray. But, sadly, the closing date was the 4th December and so my dreams of a life aquatic must, for the moment, remain just that...

However, feeling only slightly discouraged, I decided to browse through the latest vacancies on offer at the United Nations (having almost been hired as the UN's Chief Procurement Officer back in 2006) and realised that today's aquatic theme was not yet finished as they were looking for a WASH Specialist.

Now, I'm not sure I would consider myself a wash specialist as such but I have been doing it for thirty five years - which, is surely a body of experience that deserves to be taken account of - and so would consider myself extremely suitable for the job.

Of course, being the United Nations, it's never as simple as it sounds - they were looking for someone who could "facilitate the processes that will ensure a well coordinated, coherent, strategic and effective WASH response at State level."

I think this is understandable; there is sufficient seating for 1,800 people at the General Assembly of the United Nations and all it takes is a couple of members with dubious hygiene and they end up honking the whole place out. In such situations, the UN clearly needs someone to get in there and deal with the problem swiftly and decisively (and diplomatically) - a casual spray of deodorant for a mild case; an 'accidental' hose down and delousing for more problematic individuals...

The position requires that the applicant be able to identify "urgent and potentially difficult decisions and acts on them promptly".

Imagine the scenario; Gordon Brown about to head on stage to the podium. Unfortunate trouser stain. Maybe it's just water, but maybe he hasn't given Mr Winky a good enough shake. Either way, a wash specialist needs to get in there and sort the problems out. Well, not literally in there. Probably just a high pressure disinfectant misting of some sorts followed by a hairdryer on full power for a minute or two...

I also wondered whether the UN had considered the idea of sponsorship; for example, The UN Conference on Disarmament (sponsored by Palmolive). Which promotes the wash ideals, and brings in some extra cash for the UN - a win/win situation, surely!

Certain that I had what it takes, I crafted a suitable letter of application:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing in order to apply for the position of WASH specialist, as advertised on the UN Jobs website.

I possess considerable WASH experience and also have a number of ideas on how the service could be developed, and improved, in future. I think there is a great potential for relationships with commercial bodies, in the way of sponsorship, and would be keen to investigate this area.

I am capable of responding to all manner of emergency situations and have given considerable thought as to how I would deal with a number of possible problems; with the upholding of the WASH programme values at the very heart of my solutions.



I am sure that, this time, the United Nations will want to come back to me and at least take this to the interview stage - perhaps where I will be able to demonstrate my wash strategies in the flesh, so to speak...

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