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CANCELED - International Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice | Geneva
World Intellectual Property Organziation (WIPO)
33 chemin des Colombettes
Genève 1211
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 8:00 AM CEST to Friday, April 24, 2020
Category: Foundations Courses

International Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice
Geneva, Switzerland

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) and the Office of the Ombudsman at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) warmly invite you to attend this International Course on based on IOA’s Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice course.

The course will take place in Geneva, from 22–24 April 2020.  The course and materials will be presented in English. This international course will be held for the first time in Geneva.

The International Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice Course in Geneva, Switzerland has been canceled. If you have registered for the course, please look for an email from the IOA Office with next steps.

Registration & Fees | Course Description | Instructors | Location & Travel


IOA Members: $1695 USD | Non-members: $1995 USD

Registration Deadline: 17 April 2020

Please Note: The course fee does not include travel expenses or the cost of accommodations. Housing arrangements should be made directly with the hotel once you’ve received a registration confirmation. On-site registration is not permitted. You may ask to be placed on a waitlist if the course has reached full capacity.

To receive the member discount for this event, you must first become a member then proceed to event registration.

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Course Description 

The Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice Course covers the fundamentals of the organizational ombudsman role by emphasizing the principles of confidentiality, neutrality, independence, and informality. Learn how to work with visitors to the office as well as how to act as a change agent within your organization. Practice key ombuds skills of listening, asking questions, clarifying, generating options, and moving to actions throughout the ombuds process. In addition, an experienced and highly committed faculty of ombuds will share best practices around setting up an office and evaluating and communicating the effectiveness of the office.

This multi-day course is offered multiple times each year in various locations. Each course is three full days and limited to 34 participants or fewer, so be sure to register early!

As a result of this program you will learn:

  • The origins of the role, scope, and tasks of the Organizational Ombudsman and how the professional practice has evolved to the present day.
  • The four foundational principles of the Organizational Ombudsman: neutrality, independence, informality, and confidentiality.
  • Why confidentiality is essential to the ombudsman's practice and how to preserve it.
  • How to listen to visitors from a neutral standpoint, through effective question asking techniques, reflective listening, reframing, problem identification, and generating of alternatives.
  • How to manage conflict, using listening, coaching and negotiation techniques.
  • How to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and how to provide feedback to management.
  • How to establish and manage an Ombudsman's Office, including the rationale behind record upkeeping, reporting to management, and the compilation of general reports.
  • How to align the ombudsman function with the mission, values, and culture of the organization.
  • How to promote the role of the ombudsman within the organization through strategies aiming to reinforce the support of the management committee.

Who should attend: The course will be especially useful for individuals interested in informal conflict resolution, whether they are: mediators, human resource professionals, managers, leaders of organizations, newly appointed ombudsmen, or people interested in working as ombudsmen. Any organization or person wishing to understand how informal conflict resolution operates within the private or public sector, as well as in academia, would benefit from participating in this course. 

This course solely focuses on the Organizational Ombudsman profession and does not address other types of ombudsman practices such as the classical, advocate, or legislative ombudsman.


IOA’s instructors are experienced and practicing Organizational Ombudsmen, IOA members, and accredited professional trainers.

Mr. José Martinez Aragón, World Health Organization Ombudsman, Switzerland.

José Martínez-Aragón is the Director of the Office of Ombudsman and Mediation Services (OMB) of the World Health Organization (WHO) since January 2015. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, he manages the services responsible to assist staff and managers from WHO as well as the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Computing Centre (ICC) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in addressing work-related disputes through informal channels, including mediation. As the WHO/UNAIDS/ICC/IARC Ombudsman, his role is also to monitor trends for the early detection of systemic issues; to support preventive action, and to foster a workplace culture that upholds organizational core values. His close work with all regional ombudsman has ensured a coherent professional practice across WHO in accordance with international standards. Mr. Martínez-Aragón joined WHO after a long international career with both the United Nations, as Regional Ombudsman for Latin America & the Caribbean (2010-2015), and the European Union, as Principal Adviser to the European Ombudsman (1996-2009). Mr. Martínez-Aragón is a Spanish attorney specialized in alternative conflict resolution and mediation, matters on which he has taught extensively in different countries. He has been accredited as a mediator in France, the UK, and the USA and is an active member of several international associations of ombudsmen and mediators. Most notably, he belongs to the International Ombudsman Association (IOA), which certified him as an “Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner”. Between 2013-2019, he was one of the elected members of the IOA Board of Directors. Mr. Martínez-Aragón graduated in Law from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and holds Masters degrees from Yale and Pace universities, and has also completed specialized courses at Harvard and Stanford. Mr. Martínez-Aragón is a keen sportsman and enjoys swimming and running activities.

Mr. Marvin Neal, MRVLUS, the United States of America.

Marvin began as a consultant in 2018.
Marvin has been an Ombuds practitioner for twenty-two years. He joined the Office of the Ombuds at Coca-Cola in 2002. Prior to Coca-Cola, he had a twenty-year career at Kodak, six as Ombuds and fourteen in management, sales, and training. Prior to Kodak, he had a six year career at IBM in sales and training.
Marvin became a Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner (CO-OP) in 2010 and re-certified in 2014. He served as Vice President of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) from 2005-2007 and a board member (2003-2007) and (2015-2017). He chaired the IOA Membership Committee (2004-2011) and has served as a training instructor for the IOA Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice program. He has presented at IOA conferences and other specialized training courses.
Marvin has an MBA from Utah State University, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and has completed executive leadership courses at Harvard and Cornell Universities.

Mr. Thomas Zgambo, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United States of America

Thomas joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January 2017 after ten years as an Ombudsman at the World Bank. He spent six years as the Corporate Ombudsman at Coca-Cola Enterprises. Before joining Coca-Cola Enterprises, Thomas spent three years as an Ombudsman and Training Specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was also a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, teaching Negotiation and Conflict Management. Prior to MIT Thomas was an Ombudsman at Polaroid Corporation. Thomas Zgambo is a past President of The Ombudsman Association, now the International Ombudsman Association.
Thomas served as a mediator at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), and has mediated Disability, public accommodation, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination cases. He also served as a member of the Human Rights Commission for the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on African-American Affairs for the State of Massachusetts, USA.
Thomas has a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry and Materials Science from the University of North Texas and an MBA in Management of Technology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Course Limit: 24 participants

Prerequisites: None

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Course Location & Travel

Office of the Ombudsman
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
33 chemain des Colombettes
1211 Geneva


Contact the IOA office at [email protected].

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