Patrick Nicollier: Humanitarian and Global Fund’s HR Director

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GBN recently had the opportunity to meet Patrick Nicollier, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Human Resources Director (HRD).

A Multi-talented Person

After graduating in International Relations at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International Development Studies, Patrick pursued a career in human resources in a range of diverse sectors including health, finance and nanotechnology. His academic background in Political Science, International Law, Economics and Contemporary History, coupled with his professional experience, has enabled him to quickly grasp and advance the Global Fund’s goals.

“I feel privileged to be in this position. Every day is a new challenge.”

Patrick Nicollier is also President of Action de Soutien à l’Enfance Démunie, an NGO providing educational programs in developing countries, and co-manager of a multiple myeloma cancer advocacy group. Passionate about ethical issues in institutions, he is also a member of the Clinical Ethics Board of the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG). 

Global Fund’s HR Director, a Rewarding and Diversified Position

Like most HR Directors in international institutions, Patrick has many sides. His natural leadership, listening and collaboration skills are important for his role as HRD. Each day is different, but the main aim of the institution is always the same: save as many lives as possible. Thus, one of his main duties is to lead his team and collaborate with department directors in order to achieve this goal.

As an HRD, he also manages interpersonal conflict, listens to employees and implements new strategies to seek and attract new talent. Employees’ well-being is an important part of his work with the Global Fund. Part of this responsibility is to be always knowledgable about new technologies related to Human Resources. Additionally, the HRD must work with diverse governance bodies to prepare reports on finances and ethics. The HRD also collaborates with governance bodies to prepare audits or report on issues such as finances and ethics. Now, his main challenge is to implement the HR strategy for 2017-2022.

“Performance and collaboration are keywords to save 16 million more lives in the next 3 years.”

Designing Future Projects

Every year, numerous projects are set up by the Global Fund to fight against various epidemics. 

The institution’s programs are decided by the Global Fund Board, which is made up of the beneficiary and donor communities, as well as public and private actors. The Board works in collaboration with different stakeholders in order to fight epidemics efficiently. The Global Fund also works closely with the World Health Organization on issues that are more technical. 

“In 2019, we have received pledges of $US 14 billion, an unprecedented amount. Today, our top priority is to ensure that these financial resources are allocated across our various projects in an efficient manner, to save millions of lives and limit the spread of these diseases.”

Depending on the needs of the projects and the financial resources available, new job positions may need to be created. The institution’s budget, however, is fixed for the next three years and the numbers of posts remain limited.

A Tailor-made Recruitment Method

Like many institutions in Geneva, the Global Fund recruits both locally and internationally. For each position advertised, they generally receive more than 100 applications, which are carefully analysed. Diversity is an important value for the Global Fund, and candidates go through a series of tests to ensure that they possess the technical skills and share the values of the institution. After this stage, they are called in for face-to-face interviews. After a background check, the successful applicant joins the Global Fund family.

Indispensable Qualities

While technical skills are important, so are soft skills. Altruism, open-mindedness and practicality are values highly appreciated by the institution. Future employees must also be able to work in a multicultural environment, be diplomatic with both beneficiaries and donors of the Global Fund, and have a high capacity for adaptation, collaboration and communication. Thoughtful, honest and responsible people are also greatly valued by the institution.         

“Above all, a passion for the mission of saving lives.”

 Tips for Young Graduates

A good knowledge of the Global Fund’s projects is always appreciated. It is also important that potential employees emphasise how their qualities can fit into the organisation’s values and goals. Previous work experience, including internships, are also appreciated and valued. Indeed, employees will have to work with people who already have a solid experience in the field, so a willingness to learn is essential. For most positions, fluency in at least two in languages is required.

The Global Fund’s main objective is to save as many lives as possible from the epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and has been doing so since its creation in 2002. Since then, major advances have been made and millions of lives have been saved. 

Milinda Wannakula |Project Coordinator Specialising in International Relations Milinda Wannakula |Project Coordinator Specialising in International Relations

Driven by my desire to learn and understand international issues, I oriented my studies towards International Affairs, an academic background which required an analytical mind and helped me sharpen my communication skills in English and in French.

I have always wanted to help others; so, I headed for humanitarian and international organizations. As a project coordinator for diverse NGOs, I learned how to plan, organize and implement projects. During my internship at the Geneva International Peace Research Institute, we launched an international conference with researchers from all over the world. I had to take care of the logistics of the event and to manage my team. I also did the accounting of the event and booked all their flights and hotels for the participants. I had to multitask to meet tight deadlines. My versatility and my resistance to pressure allows me to find solutions quickly.

Now, I want to evolve in a stimulating environment and continue putting my skills to work for others. Rigorous and methodical, I am committed to always performing the tasks assigned to me with the smile that characterizes me

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