Cecilia Calello, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisor, Medecins Sans Frontieres


Alumni Service

21 November 2022

In order to help current students and recent graduates to find their way in the working world, many of our alumni shared their career story. Here the story of Cecilia Calello, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisor for Medecins Sans Frontieres in Amsterdam (NL). USI Degree: 4-years degree in Communication Sciences, 2004.

How did you start your career?

My career started at a private bank, but after two years I got hired by Inter-Agire (nowadays "Comundo") for a women's right project in El Salvador. It was the most eye-opening and rewarding experience I could ever had.

Why did you choose a career in Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)?

I have chosen to work for MSF due to our social mission of offering medical humanitarian assistance to people based solely on need, irrespective of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation.

What is your current role/duties?

My role consists in providing advise on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) matters to different departments and teams, such Recruitment and Career Management, Human Resources, Learning and Development, but also to specific projects in countries like Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, among many others. DEI works at different levels, such as inclusion and equity of staff members, patients and the communities we serve.
The DEI initiatives and consequently also my role are part of the institutional commitment on tackling institutional discrimination and racism within MSF.

In your opinion, what are the qualities necessary for a successful career in Medecins Sans Frontieres?

It is very important to be able to adapt to highly changeable environment, as well as to be empathetic with keen emotional intelligence, which should be used to build effective relationships and work across disciplines. It is essential to have the ability and willingness to learn new skills. Due to our international work, it is essential to be cultural aware and
competent, including speaking languages like French, Spanish, Arabic, among others.

What positive aspects and qualities meant most to you during the study programme you attended?

I deeply appreciate the multidisciplinary programme and multiculturalism at USI. There was a wide range of options to chose from in the Communications Science area. It was great that there were many talented scholars coming from a wide range of disciplines that could transfer their knowledge. I also appreciate the specialised courses towards the end of
our studies.

In my personal case, I chose to study French as second national language. It was an excellent choice that nowadays I am glad I took, as I am using the language on a weekly basis for the French speaking countries in Africa and also for Haiti. At that time, I was one of the first students to take advantage of the “Mobilité Suisse” programme and had a very fruitful and pleasant semester in Fribourg University. It was also a very interesting experience in a bilingual city, that expanded my horizons.