Sylvie Drolon, Executive Coordinator: “The Union is such a rich environment, no two days are alike.”

Sylvie Drolon, Executive Coordinator: “The Union is such a rich environment, no two days are alike.”

Traditionally, April sees The Union’s annual Board retreat, when members of the Board of Directors arrive in Paris for a week of intensive meetings and presentations, informing the decision-making that will influence the work of The Union in years to come.  (Read more about The Union's Leadership). These strategically vital meetings are only possible thanks to the tireless work of the supporting staff, such as Executive Coordinator for the Office of the Executive Director, Sylvie Drolon.

Sylvie says, “This is one of the most important events in our corporate calendar. It is my job to ensure that the meetings happen in an organised environment and run like clockwork, so that the people who attend can focus entirely on the business in hand.

“To get everyone in the same place at the same time with their competing schedules is difficult. Thankfully they are really helpful people!”

Sylvie began her career with The Union in 1999, after six years working in London for organisations including the UK Government’s Employment Tribunal and Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN).  It was this position that provided inspiration and signalled a clear career path when she returned to Paris.

“I wanted to work in an international environment for a not-for-profit organisation,” says Sylvie.  “When my CV arrived at The Union, it coincided exactly with their search for an executive assistant. Good timing!”

Now, Sylvie is the calm multi-tasker responsible for the smooth running of the essential business that supports the critical work of The Union across 144 countries.

“The Union is such a rich environment, no two days are alike and it is the differences and the challenges that keep me interested. I work on everything from meetings and agenda planning to travel, schedules and special assignments.  It’s never dull.”

After 18 years, Sylvie continues to be motivated by the work of The Union and remembers the moments that have contributed to her job satisfaction, including spending time with former Union Executive Director, Dr Annik Rouillon.

“Dr Rouillon was a leading authority on tuberculosis (TB) and on the history of The Union. It was an honour to work with her. One of the great things about working at The Union is meeting the people who devote their expertise to helping others.”  Dr Rouillon passed away in 2015 – read The Union’s tribute here.

Sylvie adds, “My first ever Union conference was for the Africa Region in Conakry in Guinea, West Africa, in 2000. I visited the National Tuberculosis Programme and assisted Professor Oumou Bah Sow and her team at the city’s Hospital Ignace Deen.  It was really inspiring to witness first-hand the work that makes The Union unique.”

Working in a global environment delivers unusual workday challenges.  Memorably, being stranded in Bali with the participants from the very first TB-Diabetes Summit, due to a volcano eruption.  She says, “My job is about being available, being a diplomat and problem solving – never was this more evident than during this particular event. I have learned to expect the unexpected for sure.”

While much of Sylvie’s impact is supporting the work and personnel of The Union, she cites her own support systems as essential to this. “I am lucky to have many people in my life who encourage and inspire me – my parents, my brothers, my husband, my daughters.”

Sylvie adds, “Similarly working with José Luis Castro, The Union’s current Executive Director, who has a clear vision for global health.  He routinely deals with world leaders, global organisations and policy makers, yet he always has time to discuss ideas, to take time out and just have a chat with me.”

As The Union approaches its Centennial in 2020, it is still the case that the battle to end the TB epidemic requires the contribution of different skills and individuals, especially those often working behind the scenes, ensuring The Union works efficiently and effectively, year after year.

Sylvie says, “I am always keen to tell my friends and family about my work and the unique organisation I work for.  One of my girls said she wants to be the boss of The Union one day.  This makes me very proud.” 

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