Mane Tadevosyan
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Mane Tadevosyan (MPSIA ’08): 15 Years in International Organizations

6 min read

Mane Tadevosyan received her Master of Political Science and International Affairs (MPSIA) degree from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at the American University of Armenia (AUA). With an extensive professional background in various international organizations, Mane is now the Data and Results Management Adviser at the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Office in Armenia. AUA’s MPSIA program had a direct impact on Mane’s career breakthrough in the world of political science and international organizations and shaped a value system that is still guiding her professional and personal life. 

Why did you choose to continue your education through the AUA MPSIA program?

Applying for AUA’s MPSIA program was a simple decision for me because AUA has been and remains the best university in Armenia. It meets international standards and is home to great professors, so I was confident in my choice of university. I wanted to be part of something that goes beyond textbooks, and AUA offered that great blend of education and experience. The MPSIA program helped me break into the international development world. 

What is your fondest memory from your time at AUA?

My current apartment has a direct view of AUA. I know this sounds a bit romantic, but sometimes, I look out of the window and recall my days at the University. We were very dedicated students, spending most of our time in the library late into the night. And I realize that staying up all night, always buried in books, may not sound very fun, but we felt the happiest then. I have two distinct memories from AUA: endless studying and constant laughter. 

What are some of the enduring values AUA instilled in you?

I believe that AUA has strengthened many of my core values, from integrity, transparency, and accountability to resilience and a broader sense of responsibility. I have strived to ensure that after graduation, these values continue to guide my professional and personal life. This is when the journey is more important than the destination itself. I firmly believe that it doesn’t really matter where you are in your career path — the most important thing is whether you have maintained your loyalty to your value system. 

What has been the most valuable advice you received from your professors at AUA?

There is this  classic quote from one of my professors: “Garbage in, garbage out.” It took us a while to fully get it, but there is a simple truth behind this quote: the quality of your result directly depends on the quality of your investment. So a low-quality input leads to a low-quality output. This really underlines the importance of putting in quality investment and effort for the sake of better results.   

What are some of the skills you gained in the MPSIA program? How did these skills help you in your career?

I gained many helpful skills through the MPSIA program, including analytical and communication skills, critical thinking, and research proficiency, which I use on a daily basis in my current job. Importantly, MPSIA developed in me the capacity to view the world from a wider lens, fostering a more comprehensive perspective. 

In addition to expanding my skill set, AUA also had a direct impact on my career trajectory in an unexpected way. I chose to examine the state of civil society in Armenia and its financial dependence on foreign donors for my thesis project. This choice aligned with the work of one of my respected professors, who was actively engaged in human rights advocacy at Counterpart International Armenia at that time. She encouraged me to undertake an academic internship with Counterpart International, where I could apply my research directly to their initiatives aimed at strengthening civil society in Armenia. I had a great experience there while doing my research, and right after defending my thesis, Counterpart International offered me a position as a researcher. They must have appreciated the skills I developed at AUA, and it was a great pleasure to receive such an offer. This was the start of my professional trajectory, and AUA played a critical role. 

Can you tell us about your professional journey following your graduation?

I worked at Counterpart International for 7-8 years with different portfolios, and after that, it was a smooth transition from one international organization to another. I joined Oxfam, a British international NGO, where I focused on women’s empowerment in rural economic development. Then, I worked at the British Embassy as a programme manager of the U.K. Government’s Good Governance Fund. I managed various projects funded by the U.K. supporting public administration reforms, Parliament strengthening, women’s political empowerment, and so on. The UN was our partner in many of these efforts.

In 2018, the UN Secretary-General initiated the global reform of the organization, including the emergence of a new generation of UN country teams, led by an impartial, independent, and empowered resident coordinator. Resident Coordinator Offices (RCOs) in most member states announced new positions to ensure strengthened UN RCO capacities. I was keen to see how that reform would be localized and implemented in Armenia. And I wanted to be part of this process, which led to my current role in the UN.

Can you give us insight into ongoing projects and programs in your current position in the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) Office?

The RC is the designated official of the UN Secretary-General and the UN’s highest-ranking official in a given country. The RC leads the UN Country Team (comprising the heads of UN agencies), coordinates all UN operations at the country level and provides strategic direction. In my role as the UN RCO Data and Results Management Adviser, I am primarily tasked with coordinating the UN’s efforts as part of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) — the UN’s central strategic framework that guides the work of all UN agencies throughout a five-year time span, covering the 2021-25 period with a financial commitment of 250 million USD. 

Through continued reform, we ensure that this strategic framework remains relevant and responsive to the country’s needs. We also strive for increased transparency and accountability, and I am particularly proud of UNINFO in this respect. Back in 2020, if you were not part of the UN system, you would not know much about UN projects. Since then, we onboarded UNINFO, the UN’s transparency and accountability platform. Now, any person can, with just one click, access our system and see our key partners, key results and expenditure. 

What are some of the ways your scope of activities in the UN has contributed to the development of Armenia?

As an RCO, we make sure that our strategy directly follows the government’s national development plan. Loyal to our inclusion and participation values, we consulted with all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, private sector, and development partners, and surveyed more than 4,000 people living in Armenia to make sure their views inform our strategic framework. As the framework is meant to be a living tool, we conduct discussions with the government and other stakeholders on a regular basis to adapt to Armenia’s evolving needs. 

I can bring you multiple stories of people benefitting from our interventions, multiple examples of how we affected policymaking processes in Armenia through evidence-based recommendations, and how we strengthened the national capacities. On the efficiency front, more than half of the budget that was committed for these five years has been mobilized and used already. 

Regular monitoring and evaluation are part of our efforts. With thanks to the UN Armenia Inter-Agency Monitoring and Evaluation Group, which I am proud to chair, the UN strives to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of our interventions.  

What are some of the challenges in implementing these programs in Armenia?

Our primary challenge in the past year has been the recent shock to our country. Typically, the UNSDCF guides the UN’s development interventions. However, given the escalation of the conflict and the influx of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, we needed to respond to the challenging circumstances on the ground, while simultaneously advancing longer-term development goals. We want to ensure that our humanitarian activities promote resilience and that we integrate the people affected by the crisis in our development work. Navigating between the humanitarian and development agendas has been the most challenging dynamic we have recently observed. 

What advice would you give to young specialists who wish to pursue careers in political science and international relations?

Let me start with a joke: In the streets of London, a tourist stumbles upon a beggar  with a sign that reads, “I am a graduate of the London School of Economics.” Surprised, the tourist asks why a graduate from such a prestigious institution is begging. The beggar’s reply? “It’s all about networking.” 

I think, in today’s world, networking plays a vital role. So, here’s my friendly advice: embrace every opportunity to network, whether through traditional channels or, more importantly, non-conventional ones. Keep learning, stay curious, and dare to explore new avenues. 

Fifteen years have passed since your graduation from AUA. In what ways do you want to reconnect with your alma mater?

The practical skills and value system AUA provided were really important to me. There is potential to expand the collaboration between the UN and AUA, also through the UN RCO. The current partnership needs to be institutionalized and I think multiple opportunities exist, such as data and research projects, to systematize this collaboration.