15 APRIL 2013


Ban Ki-moon is the first Secretary General to wait so long to occupy his actual office on the 38th floor of U.N. Headquarters.

When elected in October, 2006, to take over in January, 2007 -- the longest advance period for a Secretary General -- he first had to stay in a hotel until his residence on Sutton Place was renovated; then spent almost all his first term in a prefabricated makeshift set-up in the Garden with a separate additional entrance on 47th Street. At least he had the statue of Saint George slaying the dragon displayed to passers-by.

It must have been an irritating inconvenience, to say the least. However, like the first Asian Secretary General U-Thant, Ban Ki-moon "manages to manage" his anger, at least in public. While our former Burmese boss would merely stare ahead, Mr. Ban wears a vague smile -- as if not giving the schemers of inconvenience any satisfaction. He mainly travelled around the world, making more frequent miles abroad than hours at Headquarters. He could always respond to potential critics by explaining that the Secretary General is officially on duty 24 hours a day, wherever he may be.

Now that the Secretary General is back, the rest of the Secretariat staff are exercising their "right of return" gradually, though not necessarily to the same place.

Some find the restructuring of the new offices "sooo quiet" and not conducive to interaction among colleagues; not inspiring team work; almost isolated. Others perceive some sort of bureaucratic segregation between higher ranks and lower echelons. Almost all are glad to return and will give the new set-up a chance.

As to the Secretary General's office, apparently certain details are not determined yet. For example, will he need a red carpet?

Find your own answer.