Sarmad has served as an international affairs professional for almost 20 years in the areas of UN development cooperation, international policy and programmes and executive leadership development. He recently serves in the UAE as Head of UN RC Office, Senior Advisor on Planning and Partnerships, and Special Advisor on the UN’s engagement in Expo 2020, Dubai.
Prior to UAE, he was Head of leadership policy and programme development at the UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO) at UN Headquarters in New York. He led work on leadership solutions and reform, and guided efforts to help the senior representatives of the Secretary-General across 129 countries better address complex, multidimensional leadership challenges of the 2030 Agenda. He was lead author of the UN’s first Leadership Model promoting systems leadership and served as a member of the senior UN committee charged by the Secretary-General to develop a system-wide UN Leadership Framework. He later conceptualized and managed the UN’s first high-level ‘Learning Advisory Council on the 2030 Agenda’, launched by the Deputy Secretary-General.
Earlier, he worked with the UN System Staff College as an Instructor and Coordinator of its flagship programme on UN Leadership training senior and emerging leaders across the UN system. Before the College, Sarmad spent several years working with senior leadership of UN operations in Iraq and Yemen focusing on development planning and transition strategies, and with UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery Bureau in Geneva working on complex emergencies.
Sarmad sits on the Advisory Board of Emerging Health International guiding on sustainable development capacity building, and the Advisory Board of the UAE University’s “University of the Future” initiative to advise on developing a curriculum of the future that supports sustainable development solutions. In 2020, he was recognized by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt as one of forty Responsible Leaders for his contributions to the SDGs and was invited to join their Global Responsible Leaders Network. He has spoken on systems leadership, sustainable development, and fragility on several intergovernmental and academic panels, and holds a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.