Sarmad is an international affairs professional with over 20 years of experience in development cooperation, international policy and diplomacy, education for sustainable development impact, and executive leadership development.
Sarmad is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University (NYU). He sits on the Advisory Boards of the UAE University’s ‘University of the Future’ initiative, and Emerging Health International (EHI). In 2020, Sarmad was recognized by the BMW Foundation as one of forty global Responsible Leaders for his contributions to the SDGs through positive change and collaborative action. He is co-author of the upcoming book “The Sustainable University of the Future: Re-Imagining Higher Education and Research” (Springer Publishing) and authored the chapter on ‘Preparing Future-Fit Leaders for the Sustainable Development Era’.
Sarmad has held several senior positions in the United Nations, most recently as the Head of the UN Office in the UAE, Senior Advisor on Planning and Partnerships, and Special Advisor on the UN’s engagement in Expo 2020, Dubai. Prior to the UAE, he was global Head of leadership policy and programme development at the UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO) at UN Headquarters in New York where he led the UN’s work on leadership solutions and reform. He served as the lead author of the UN’s first future-focused Leadership Model promoting systems thinking and transformational leadership. He subsequently served as a member of the senior UN committee charged by the Secretary-General to develop a system-wide leadership framework and was appointed as Head of the Secretariat the UN’s first high-level ‘Learning Advisory Council on the 2030 Agenda’.
Earlier in his career, Sarmad worked with the United Nations System Staff College in Turin as an Instructor and Coordinator of its flagship UN Leadership Programme training senior and emerging leaders across the UN system. Before the College, he spent seven years working with senior leadership of UN operations in Iraq and Yemen focusing on conflict and fragility, development and humanitarian transition strategies, and with UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery Bureau in Geneva working on disaster risk reduction and complex emergency files. Prior to joining the UN, Sarmad served as Vice-President and Director of Strategic Communications for the United Nations Association in Canada, Toronto.