null In the Spotlight: Manasa Britto


In the July 2022 edition of In the Spotlight, we interview Manasa Britto, Administration & HR Manager in the Head Office. Originally from India, Manasa has been living in Geneva for 10 years now.

She tells Communications Assistant Josie Hough (JH) all about the many facets of her role, which covers everything from recruitment to planning the #BNBT2022 International Conference, the many learning opportunities she has enjoyed and her motivation to create a positive work environment for all.

JH: Manasa, thank you for taking time out of your busy life to chat with me. Let’s start by hearing about your background, and how it led you to

Manasa Britto (MB): I’m a commerce graduate with work experience as a senior associate in the airline ticketing industry and insurance sector back in India. While I was working, I did my master's in business administration and human resource management.

In 2012, I got married and we moved to Geneva. I had started working straight after graduation so I finally had a bit of free time for myself after moving, but of course, I was looking for something to do. It’s not very easy to find work in Geneva without French language skills, so while I was job hunting, I got the opportunity to volunteer with an English-speaking association which happened to be in the Ecumenical Center [where Head Office is located].

I was volunteering in the drop-in centre, helping them out with administrative tasks, and while I was there I came to know about the intern position as Administrative Assistant at At that point, I had zero experience in that field as I had only just completed my master's and moved here. So I thought, what a great opportunity to get experience and to learn about the work environment in Geneva.

I joined on 12 October 2012, and after an 8-month internship and a few short-term projects, I was offered a permanent position as Administration and Human Resources Manager, the role I’ve been in ever since.

JH: Wow, so you’ve almost been here 10 years! How would you describe your experience as Administration & HR Manager?

MB: I know, I can hardly believe it’s been 10 years! Being able to grow from an intern to a manager in the same organisation has been great. As part of my Administration role, I have had the opportunity to lead different projects across diverse fields, which has allowed me to learn and perform various tasks on multiple levels. I’ve done everything from small to big jobs, I’ve learned to work in a team and to be able to take the initiative, working in coordination, recruitment, retention, training and development, project management and support services.

Thanks to my experience and the different facets of my role, I’ve been able to recognise and develop my core strengths: maintaining confidentiality, fast learning - very important in such a small team, multitasking, communication, ownership, people management and the ability to deliver results under pressure. I think I’ve grown in my role, from a small baby to an adult, and I’m still growing. There is always more to learn, it’s a process! It’s like a hike in the mountains, there are ups and downs, and you never stop learning.

JH: Very true! So what would you say are the key opportunities and challenges of your role?

MB: My role is a mixture of two roles really. Administration itself is a big responsibility and human resource manager is another. Of course, they go with each other well, but the decision-making and way of working are very different.

The key opportunities are good communication, recruiting new staff, staff development, and strategising with executives. My role gives me this unique opportunity to sit with executives and see the bigger picture but also to sit with the team and see what is going on day to day. I see the whole organisation, which puts me in a certain position, being the liaison between management and staff.

The challenges would be accepting changes with a smile, sometimes having to maintain distance and confidentiality; ensuring I am building the right balance with a diverse team. Developing a continuously learning team based on current growing demands is a challenge, especially as the way we work has changed massively, in large part due to the pandemic.

Understanding different team members, their moods and performance really requires people management skills. Theoretically, you might know everything, but in practice, it can be very different. Dealing with compliance and regulations is another challenge. But overall, keeping team the happy is a priority.

JH: It’s really juggling multiple balls at once isn’t it! What has been your most impactful activity with

MB: I would say my most impactful activity was the first task that I had as an intern. I was tasked with managing the database. We were a very small organisation and often got contacts through business cards. I had to scan and import the details of these new contacts into the computer. It was often manual work when the scan didn’t work well, and I think throughout my internship I managed to enter over 5000 contacts into an Outlook database, which is still used today.

As the HR manager, I have had the opportunity to be part of a human resource development plan which includes the new team meeting concept that we now have in place. It’s a really good way of giving the team a platform and an opportunity to be creative. I think this is also really impactful for the organisation and for the staff, it can boost morale and gives people well-deserved recognition.

Another initiative that we brought in as part of the HR development plan was a Rewards and Recognition programme, another way to try and do something special for the team, to motivate everyone and foster a positive and innovative work environment.

JH: So what motivates you personally in your role?

MB: I think building a positive work environment is what motivates me. My work itself, involving people management, allows me to learn and discover new things from others and to introduce new initiatives to help the team. At the end of the day, is the people who make up the organisation. The team is key: working with people really motivates me.

JH: Is there anything that stands out for you as a specific feature regarding the organisational culture of A lot of people in previous In the Spotlight interviews highlight our people!

MB: As its name suggests, is global. It’s diverse, friendly, supportive, and approachable, especially compared to other organisations, even though we have a lot going on in terms of work pressure as such a small team. It’s very flexible. There are always opportunities to grow professionally and personally, management is open to finding solutions, to new ideas, and we can freely share our opinions and concerns. There is a real atmosphere of trust and plenty of opportunities and freedom to develop, to learn and attend training. We’re encouraged to be self-motivated in our learning.

JH: Absolutely, we always say we’re a learning organisation, and this applies on an institutional level right down to our individual roles.

MB: Yes, and it goes beyond our work as well. Everyone in the team has their own extra activities as well and we’re encouraged to bring these outside hobbies into work too. An extra motivation.

JH: So, last question, why does ethics in higher education matter?

MB: It’s very important… especially in human resources. HR has a significant impact in every activity including in education institutions. We have to be efficient, have to know people’s rights and duties, and this is where ethics comes in. Without ethics, we can’t relate to the staff, it creates barriers and shuts organisations down. As I said, we are our team. We try to create a bridge between the organisation and the staff, respect is key, and by running ethically from within, we can build an ethical organisation that goes forward to integrate ethics into higher education.

JH: You’re right there, ethics begins from within. Many thanks once again Manasa for a great conversation and for doing your part to create a positive work environment for us all!