In Conversation With... Uyangaa Munkhbat, Flying Labs Community Coordinator
April 29th, 2020
WeRobotics is a diverse, global team. To spotlight their unique talents and contributions to WeRobotics and to Flying Labs, we asked them to share a bit about their backgrounds, their roles, and their interests.
Below is a conversation with Uyangaa Munkhbat, Flying Labs Community Coordinator.
Q: Please introduce yourself: who are you, where do you live, and what’s your role at WeRobotics?
A: My name is Uyangaa, which means melody in Mongolian. It’s actually one of the most common names in Mongolia, though I realise that it’s not that common in Europe! I am from the Gobi desert, where my family still lives. It has been five years since I came to France, first for my studies and now, I work and live here. I work currently as one of the Flying Labs Community Coordinators at WeRobotics, which means that I support and coordinate the Flying Labs Community daily as needed. I mostly work with African and Latin American Flying Labs.
How did you get started in your field? What were your academic background and critical work experiences?
I have always been passionate about human rights’ causes and social and economic development, especially in rural areas. Maybe it’s related to my childhood, spent in the countryside during the harsh period when our country went through a transition from communism to capitalism. So I was always interested in working for NGOs in the development sector. In France, I studied Foreign Languages Applied to International Trade, and during my third year, I had the opportunity to do an internship at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). I was part of the organizing team of the World Summit on Information Society Forum. During my experience at ITU, I met so many interesting people from different countries, all working in technology and communication sectors. And while exchanging ideas and learning about what they do, I realised the importance of new technology in our daily lives and how it could drastically improve the livelihoods of many around the world. So I started developing a keen interest in this field.
How did you get here? Why did you decide to join WeRobotics? What projects have you been working on?
During my internship at ITU, I met Sonja and learned about WeRobotics. I went to their website and started reading about their work. I didn’t have any experience with drones, nor did I know much about this technology. But I was intrigued by their work and their values. Working with people from all around the world who use technology to tackle social challenges and improve people’s lives seemed ideal for me. I applied for this job so I might contribute even slightly to the work that this fantastic group of people was doing.
This year, with my colleagues, I have been working on developing and implementing a Monitoring and Evaluation System for our Flying Labs. Flying Labs do many projects and engage with countless local stakeholders. The impact of their work is growing more than ever. So we need a reliable, efficient, and simple system to keep track of their work and evaluate their impact. We are now only getting started, and there is much to be done. But with the active participation and support from our Flying Labs members, we are getting there.
What are you most looking forward to this year in your work?
On a monthly video call with Senegal Flying Labs
I have been looking forward to meeting Flying Labs members in person during our WeRobotics and Flying Labs Retreat later this year. However, with the current situation because of COVID-19, our Retreat may be postponed to even a later date. But I am not discouraged by it as remote working is part of our daily routine, and also, we are working on several new tools and projects for Flying Labs this year. So I am quite eager to launch these tools and test them with Flying Labs members. We already started the implementation and testing phase of some of them, such as the M&E system I mentioned earlier.
What are your go-to tools and processes for doing your job?
I mostly work with Trello to manage my daily tasks as well as to collaborate with my colleagues. I also use Slack for spontaneous communication within the team and Google Drive/GSuiteto share project details. Whatsapp is another tool that I use quite often when reaching out to Flying Labs members. I found out that most of our Flying Labs members use this app actively. And in general, I try to find and adjust different communication tools and methods best suited to the people I work with since they are all from different countries and cultures. For example, some are most comfortable with communicating through emails, and they are not familiar with Slack. While some have several email accounts, so it’s better to reach out to them via Whatsapp if I need to get their attention. And another essential tool that I always use is this timezone converter. I always need to be mindful of time differences when setting up calls and online meetings with Flying Labs members. It also requires me to be quite flexible when it comes to working hours. So I also manage my working hours depending on when I have a call with whom.
What do you like to do in your off time? How do you relax and unwind?
Uyangaa and her cousins taking English courses
I love going out for walks and biking. If the weather allows, I also enjoy going into nature and hiking in the mountains with friends. And I have been trying some yoga recently. It is quite refreshing and motivating. I am currently in Mongolia with my family, and since coming back here, I have been teaching English to some of my friends and cousins during my free time. It’s rewarding to see them make progress. I hope that they will be able to use English to get new opportunities in their lives as it happened to me. Learning new languages also fascinates me. It is like a magic spell that suddenly opens up a door to an unknown world. With a new language, everything that was not understandable before starts to make sense. And I love that feeling! I have been trying to learn Spanish and Japanese since last year. And I want to learn Chinese if possible.