Read about Alka Arya
Software Production Coordinator
Policy, Strategy and Governance Division, Office of Information and Communications Technology
What brought you to a career in technology at the United Nations?
I started my career in technology with IBM and worked on Mainframe Servers. I later worked for a Japanese Six Sigma Automotive on software development lifecycle. Having top-level hardware and application experience, I looked out for new opportunities and came across the United Nations. I knew about the UN’s role in promoting peace, sustainable development and human rights. I read the UN recognizing the importance of gender equality and women's empowerment. My previous jobs gave me good exposure, learning opportunities, and expertise while motivating me to move on and utilize my experience for the betterment of society at large. I felt that by joining the UN I would be joining the best workforce on the planet which recognizes and utilizes the potential of technology to advance its mission. I pursued my passion for using technology for the betterment of society and joined the UN as its soldier in 2006.
What has been your favorite IT project at the United Nations and what was your technical contribution?
For over a decade, I had the opportunity to work on an in-house ERP project for which I was a key team member. While this was a great opportunity, my favorite project that I have worked on is UNiLearn. UNiLearn is a learning management system based on open-source software. It is offered by UNICEF India and UN-OICT. This software was launched in 2020 and played a pivotal role in the delivery of education during the pandemic to almost every nook and corner of India. I have been associated with this project from its inception and have played a key role in its end-to-end development and management. My role entails ensuring that we can reach a million-plus users through continuous improvements, enhancements and scaling across the platform. The journey began with a single user in 2020 and is set to reach its ten millionth user milestone by 2024. The way this software has been accepted, from economically disadvantaged individuals to expert educators, has made it a journey of a lifetime for our team. Not a single day goes by when this platform doesn't serve thousands of learners in remote areas and modern cities alike. The experience is enriching, fulfilling and a classic example of digital inclusion.
What advice would you give women interested in pursuing a field in technology?
I would advise them to focus on their uniqueness and understand their abilities. I believe it’s important that they apply their skills, build a network of support, keep learning new skills and work on improving weak areas. It’s also important to stay curious, participate in hackathons, workshops and seminars while working hard and staying focused. I would also advise them to play, socialize, explore, balance their life, and pursue their passion.