Four months after arriving in Geneva, in January 2015, Mr. Poem Mudyawbikwa was called into his Ambassador’s office and asked if he would be willing to attend a training course on Negotiation Skills and Techniques from UNITAR.
“Initially,” he recalled, “I was skeptical of what I might learn at the workshop because at that time I had already been working as a negotiator in business, and in fact I had written articles about negotiating.” After some research into UNITAR’s Diplomatic Training, he reluctantly agreed to participate.
Mr. Mudyawbikwa is a Minister Counselor to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland. He is tasked with representing Zimbabwe in several United Nations and International Organizations. To excel at his work, Mr. Mudyawbikwa requires specific skills in multilateral diplomacy.
Zimbabwe is currently the regional coordinator of the African Group for the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Mr. Mudyawbikwa is the regional coordinator for that group. As coordinator he frequently attends meetings organized by the office and by the group chair which include 4 other regional coordinators. He also frequently meets with representatives of workers’ and employers’ groups. Often, he is responsible for chairing and coordinating meetings, preparing briefs, making statements on behalf of the African Group as well as negotiating for them.
At the training on Negotiation Skills and Techniques, Mr. Mudyawbikwa met colleagues from other missions who were also new in Geneva. “Though skeptical at first,” he said.
“The training was, ‘an eye-opener’, I thought I knew a lot about negotiating, but I learned a number of new techniques and skills at the training.”
"The facilitators were quite knowledgeable and capable of encouraging participants to engage with each other to share our experiences.”
After that experience, Mr. Mudyawbikwa was convinced by the value of such training, and he went on to participate in the Executive Diploma in Diplomatic Practice, which was newly established by UNITAR in 2015. The goal of the Diploma is to improve career opportunities of successful candidates, as well as to expand the reach of their global network. He said, “At that time, I didn’t have the confidence to proceed in the diplomatic community, and I saw the Diploma as an opportunity to be exposed to the issues in the diplomatic circles.”
Like many participants, Mr. Mudyawbikwa was working full time while enrolled in the Executive Diploma programme.
“My biggest challenge was taking the online courses, which I had never done before. At the same time, it was exciting to take these online courses because there were no spectators and we all had to participate.”
Mr. Mudyawbikwa earned his Executive Diploma in Diplomatic Practice in June 2016. He affirmed that, “The Programme has already helped improve my negotiating skills at work and thus helped my mission, and ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe. Being exposed to the new skills has helped me perform better at work and has changed my approach to multilateral diplomacy.”