For Susan Alexander, being offered at role at the UPU in Switzerland more than 25 years ago was a dream come true. Alexander, who previously worked as an Assistant Attorney General for Virginia in the United States, fell in love with the country during her time studying Comparative Literature at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.Name: Susan Alexander
Directorate: Policy, Regulation and Markets
Position: Programme Manager, Postal Regulation and UN Policies
Languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Swiss German
“While I was attending Duke University, I spent a year studying at the University of Fribourg, spending my free time there and in Berne,” she explains. “I always wanted to come back to Switzerland to live – I wanted to be able to speak different languages every day. I also had a second dream, which was to work for the United Nations. It was such an incredible coincidence when I was in Berne and learned about the UPU. I was very fortunate to be able to make both goals a reality.”
Following her time at Duke University, Alexander studied law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and then went on to her role in Virginia. She has now been with the UPU for 25 years, starting out as a Regularly Affairs Expert, progressing up to her position as Programme Manager today. Her passion for the job is still as strong as it was on her first day.
“Because of my studies, my interest in public international law is a good fit for my work in postal regulation and policy,” she explains. “And as sustainability has become more important over the years, I have also developed an interest in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly gender equality and the empowerment of women. It’s a privilege to be able to work on topics that I am passionate about.”
Alexander and her team, which consists of three experts and an assistant, are currently working on two very important resolutions which were adopted at the Abidjan Congress – one on climate action and the other on gender equality. In brief, the former commits the UPU to investigate possible emission reduction targets and the latter will encourage posts globally to adopt gender-sensitive approaches within their organizations.
For many years, Alexander, who enjoys hiking, cooking, reading and music in her spare time, has also been championing gender equality outside of her work and has been a member of a local chapter in Berne for an international women’s association.
“I enjoy the social aspect as well as the programs at global level advocating for policies and supporting projects that contribute to achieving gender equality,” she comments. “In terms of music, I have always sung in choirs and have been part of performing all kinds of music, ever since I was young. I can’t imagine life without music. The emotional power of multiple voices in a choir is a physical feeling that resounds deep in your heart, which I feel when I listen, but even more profoundly when I am a part of it.”
For Alexander, the best part of working for the UPU is the diversity of staff at the International Bureau. “I feel so fortunate to work with people from all over the globe and get to know their cultures through working together,” she says. “It is more challenging than working in my own country, but so much more rewarding.”
This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of Union Postale magazine.