Claudia Ramirez '03 is the Program Manager, COVID-19 Incident Management Team at the World Health Organization.
Meet Claudia on IrishCompass
Can you provide a quick background of your ND experience and how that led you to your current role?
I am currently a program manager for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is a regional office for the World Health Organization (WHO). I am on the incident management support team in response to COVID. I work in the emergency operation center, doing program management and information management. The program side deals with grants and funds, and information deals with — for example — courses for capacity building.
I graduated in 2003 with a degree in marketing. I have always been interested in this international aspect. I studied abroad in France in 2002. Right after graduation, I worked at Notre Dame, so I have been on both sides of the desk. As a student, I had worked at the Institute for Latino Studies and then became full-time staff after graduation, moving then to Notre Dame International, working with the study abroad programs. I have always loved the global impact of my work. I have been in DC for five years. I was in human resources and the office of the legal counsel in the program management role. The Covid-19 Incident Management Team, where I serve now, is the first exposure I have had to the technical role.
What do you like most about your work with the World Health Organization?
It has been a great discovery and an eye-opening experience to see the impact PAHO/WHO has in my home country, Mexico. I am really proud of the work that we are doing in guiding countries with advice and knowledge. The UN has 17 different specialized agencies so there are different causes on which you can focus here.
What are the top skills your company looks for in ND applicants?
The United Nations system uses a competency-based model for an interview. It looks for teamwork; reading, writing, and speaking in more than one language; respect for different cultures; and knowing and managing yourself. I think Notre Dame does a great job in preparing you for this aspect. They not only offer a rigorous academic curriculum but have opportunities in service, dorm life, research, and have several international opportunities through Notre Dame International, the Kellogg Institute, the Keough School of Global Affairs, and the Kroc Institute.
PAHO/WHO has four official languages: Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese. They will ask for a second language besides English, but the more you have, the better.
What is the value of hiring Notre Dame talent?
I have a favorite quote from St. Catherine of Sienna: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” I think that portrays Notre Dame alumni really well. Their zeal, their fervor, how they flourish in any situation, and how they are eager to excel in a challenge they are given — in both their professional and personal lives.
When you have posted a role on IrishCompass, were any applications received or hires made?
As the chair of the Washington Irish Network for the ND Club of DC, I work closely with recruiters who are always very eager to hear from Notre Dame talent. They say to please send Notre Dame applicants their way.
Do you have any advice for ND applicants applying to the World Health Organization?
With the emergency operations team, for example, it is a fine-tuned operation. We look for someone who is disciplined, reliable, and a team player. It is easy to get burnt out, so having that knowledge about yourself is very helpful for any high-stress situation.
I also highly recommend using the Notre Dame network. When I moved to DC, I looked for fellow alumni working for international organizations and services and met with them. You just have to look.
I am happy to be involved with getting more Notre Dame talent in the United Nations. We need a wide range of skills, so it would be great to have more Notre Dame alums here.