Isabella Gaha, International MBA 2015 Alumni, shares her secrets on entering at International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
How did you find out about this job opportunity?
The message from Shuo Xing of CMC on 2nd March 2015 was the source of information about this opportunity. It stated,
“Interested to work in the field of humanitarian aid? Interested to work for the International Committee of the Red Cross?
March 10th IE will be honored to host the Head of HR Marketing from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who travels from the ICRC´s HQ in Geneva to present their career opportunities at the ICRC.”
How did the CMC and your IE experience help you during the recruiting process?
From my side, the CMC support began way before this opportunity. My journey started with the Career Leader Test, which we are usually encouraged to complete in the first months of the MBA. Being eager to ascertain my career preferences, I did the test, and met with our career counsellor a few times as I set out to clarify my priorities. The test did confirm what I had wondered about and what some people who knew me well used to say; that something with social impact, or focused on aiding humanitarian needs would be a good fit. This test did help to guide my priorities as I looked for opportunities. One of the areas I really gave time to was international organizations, and Not-for-Profit entities.
This does not however mean I didn’t look elsewhere too. I did have options B, C, D…
Other sources of assistance to me were:
- The Career talks by Daniel Porot – He advised on different ways of arriving at a career choice, especially when hoping to change location, industry and role. One piece of advice from him that I appreciate is that when a total career shift does not work, it is ok to make one move at a time, knowing the end goal. I guess it’s the same principle applied to “Checkmate” in a game of chess. It is never achieved with one single move.
- The encouragement by IMBA team on attending networking events, and making a point to have a conversation with those that interest you – On the day of the presentation, I did ask my fair share of questions, and waited patiently for additional conversation with the ICRC representative, Markus Dolder. Markus did mention that ICRC was looking for people with financial background. This was additional useful information for my candidature, and I did make a point to emphasize my financial skills and experience in my application. Knowing people from the organization you are targeting, and being able to clarify doubts does go a long way in aiding you to prepare your application.
- My Venture Lab Experience – I took on a social entrepreneurship project at venture lab; “Tuendelee” is the name. Whilst undertaking the project, I got insights into the not-for-profit sector. I was lucky to have a team mate who had worked in the same sector, Karla la Gant. Her input was invaluable, not just for the project, but also in shaping my views and ensuring I had reasonable expectations of the new unknown world I wanted to venture into. Additionally, a couple of my IMBA colleagues were very willing to freely support and coach us through the project.
Post-MBA Internship – I made use of this program to get a more hands-on experience in a Not-for-Profit entity. I interned at Entreculturas, a Madrid-based NGO that promotes and supports access to quality education for marginalized population. This was not only an opportunity for experience, but also an added advantage to my resume – relevant experience. The ICRC is very thorough in the recruitment and seeks recommendations or letter of confirmations from all organizations you have worked in; be they full-time or part-time engagements.
How was the recruiting process: stages, tests, interviews, etc?
The first stage was filling in a very lengthy online application form. It was quite detailed, and needed determination to get through it. A key part of this form was an essay question about the motivation for the application. For ICRC, this element is essential and I would advise anyone considering applying, to take time and prepare a good motivation letter.
Two skype interviews followed the first step, one with a HR Recruiter, and another with a Financial Responsible interviewer, each lasting close to an hour.
Having gone through these two successfully, I had to prepare and submit a myriad of documents – copies of all my certificates, testimonials and reference letters, passport(s), and importantly, a national and international driving license for manually operated vehicles. The nature of the job usually dictates that all staff maneuver heavy 4X4 Land Cruisers.
The final interview phase was an Assessment at the Headquarters in Geneva (Assessment Day). This is a full day of assessment where different interviewers observe you undertaking various individual and group exercises. Some written case questions are also undertaken, as well as language tests. My best experience on assessment day was a live negotiation session I had to undertake. Wasn’t I grateful that I sat in the Negotiations Elective Course at IE!
Prior to the Assessment day, the CMC Associate Director for International Organizations, Shuo, introduced me to an Alumni working with ICRC. His tips were very useful in preparing for the D-day.
Would you want to share any tips, advice with current student interested in applying to this company?
I guess I have already said most of it, but could add one or two more… I would encourage those interested to:
- Watch ICRC YouTube videos about what the work environment entails. ICRC is quite open about what the real work is. This gives a good idea of what to expect, and also insights into what his or her role would be like.
- Connect with Alumni, and seek CMC support, in areas you need help. CMC may not have all answers for everyone, but they could have I tip or contact, that could be all you need!