Qlik.org Visits the United Nations

Qlik.org interns get hands on with leveraging data for good alongside United Nations Secretariat & Department of Peacekeeping

On June 17th 2019, the Qlik.Org team was presented with an opportunity to visit the United Nations headquarters. The Qlik-UN partnership is a long standing one and spans across multiple UN departments.

The Qlik.Org team includes four female interns and with me as their leader. Our interns come from a diverse range of backgrounds and bring with them their own unique perspectives and worldviews.

Helen Habegger, a Northeastern University Co-Op student from Switzerland, has always admired the UN’s work, especially growing up near Geneva. One of the projects Helen has been working on in her time here at Qlik is developing an application with me for the UN’s efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Helen reflects, “I am particularly drawn to the UN’s work regarding environmental conservation as I have scuba dived for over ten years now and being able to see the vast extent of human devastation to our oceans first-hand has arisen a strong passion towards environmental conservation within me”.

The program that Qlik.Org has developed for students has given today’s youth the ability to impact the world positively from a young age, catering specifically to causes they are passionate about on a personal level.

Alongside Helen, Sarah Manno is currently studying international relations at New York University and has developed a deep interest in geo-politics. She has always viewed the UN as arguably the most omnipresent of governing bodies in the world, seeking to keep global peace, eradicating suffering, and advocating for justice worldwide. Therefore, when Julie presented the CSR team with the opportunity to not only visit, but work with the UN, she was thrilled.

Another Qlik intern, Maanasa Shivkumar, a rising Senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who grew up in Singapore notes how she has “Always perceived the UN to be a powerhouse bringing countries together, having grown up in such a small and young country like Singapore”. Maanasa further adds how the UN letting Singapore become a member has always been a big milestone for the nation, and how her experience in being able to tour the UN and meeting with the people was “undoubtedly an experience of a lifetime”.

Lastly, Sydney Wry, a student at Tulane University – where she has taken business analytics classes, recounts “I remember attending office hours with my professor and walking into a room full of men. I can also remember other men in my class being surprised when I was able to assist them with homework assignments or clarify what we went over in class. Women are often overlooked in fields relating to technology, making the UN trip and my overall time at Qlik a truly empowering experience”.

Qlik’s technology goes beyond helping businesses analyze data and helping them make data-decisions. Walking through the UN headquarters, the interns were able to see firsthand the many ways Qlik is being leveraged. The first part of their visit was devoted to meeting the team from the UN Secretariat to discuss top ideas from Qlik.Org’s hackathon at Qonnections and fine tune them to cater to the Secretariat’s unique needs. The hackathon, held during Qonnections week in Dallas, required participants to develop a Qlik Sense app for the UN to manage global air travel through the lens of carbon dioxide emission reduction. The meeting with the UN Secretariat’s team was primarily held to discuss the hackathon’s top ideas and fine tune adjustments to cater to the Secretariat’s unique needs.

“I felt, being able to meet with them at a table, face-to-face, permitted us to discuss the work we are doing in more detail than ever before. It was also nice to witness in person how my work building dashboards and collecting datasets has been valuable for the UN.”

– Helen Habegger

Next, the team met with Avishan Bodjnoud who heads data analytics for the UN Department of Peacekeeping, leveraging data in peacekeeping efforts in many countries around the world. Women in technology are definitely a minority – however, the Qlik.Org and UN teams both had amazing female representatives.Witnessing the strong female representation from both sides was unequivocally inspiring for the interns.

Having grown up watching her mother, the only woman in her family making strides in the technology sector, Manasa always saw the value in being data literate. As an Economics and Informatics major in college, she adds that “Be it in classes or even in the working world I am always reminded that women in analytics are a minority. What really resonated with me during the UN visit were the leading women we met making strides in the analytics sector, especially in our meeting with Avishan.”

Alongside Manasa, Sydney also picks this meeting with Avishan as the most empowering moment of the trip. Recalling her experience, Sydney says “Us interns are all learning about business intelligence, a field which consists traditionally of men – yet, here us five women sat in a UN conference room comprised of women, discussing how Qlik’s technology can be used to analyze data in peacekeeping efforts. It was truly inspiring to look to both sides as I sat in a UN conference room, and seeing these initiatives driven by women. To us, Avishan embodied how women everywhere cannot be constrained by gender stereotypes."

The Qlik interns spoke with Avishan about the power of mapping visualizations which can track conflict zones, depict the frequency of international flights, and illustrate the size and spread of UN base camps all across the world. As Sarah notes “Working with Qlik on the UN CSR projects, really brought to light for me the massive potential of marrying data visualization with geopolitics. This coupling of data visualization and geo-politics is certainly something that will stay with me in my future career and will continue to explore”.

As the memorable day drew to a close, the interns were given the privilege of a tour by the UN employees themselves which made for an opportunity of a lifetime!

Read how we are empowering our youth to take charge of their passions and leverage #Data4Good in @Qlik.org's recent visit to @UN


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