Tuesday Reitano spent eight years with the UN dealing with the aftermath of bullets, bombs, war and conflict. At the United Nations Development Programme, her job was to work with other agencies to piece together the remnants of civil life in such places as Afghanistan, Liberia, Sudan, Haiti, Lebanon and Iraq. These days, she is in Montreal, finishing her MBA at McGill, and she says her “days of jetting off to Liberia and Sudan are numbered.”
As a representative for the UNDP, Reitano, 30, worked with aid agencies such as UNICEF and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to assess the need for recovery after conflict. She would co-ordinate interventions, quickly come to an understanding of what the key needs were, and develop a strategy for rapid recovery. It was while working in these high-profile, post-conflict environments that she first began using results-based, classic business-school models to achieve the goals of the UNDP.
Reitano moved to Montreal in 2007. She took the relocation as a rare opportunity to break out of the system. “It is hard for outsiders to get in, and once you’re in, with the benefits package and the wonderful lifestyle, it’s hard to get out,” she says. With the intention of returning to the UN full-time after completing her MBA, Reitano wanted to learn the best business practices from multinational companies.
After graduation, she will be looking for a post within the UN that will allow her to reform and restructure parts of the institution. “I think the UN sorely needs to become more competitive, streamlined and efficient,” says Reitano. “It needs to move away from a system known as an international diplomatic corps, with the privileges and benefits of that system, to becoming more like an international business.”
Reitano has found that internal reform is a growth area within the UN, and she says she hopes her MBA concentration in strategy will give her the foundation to implement changes. She has so far been impressed with the range of topics McGill offers, and stresses that you don’t necessarily need to go into investment banking after finishing your MBA. “The university has brought in globalization, global ethics and corporate social responsibility,” Reitano says. “This is really, really good stuff with five or six years of work experience under your belt.”