Ombuds’ corner: Farewell

After thirty-three years at CERN, including three and a half years as Ombuds, I am leaving. During my time of Ombuds I have seen many people for discussions, misunderstandings, difficulties in communication and also conflicts. No institution can live without conflicts. The main thing is not to face conflicts but to be flexible enough to resolve them.


Through kind and effective collaboration (while maintaining strict confidentiality) with CERN personnel and management, the HR Department and, in particular, the HRA’s, the Medical Service and the Staff Association, the majority of the conflicts could be positively resolved, avoiding escalation in human and procedural costs.

I firmly believe that the observance of our Code of Conduct at every level of our managerial structure is the key to pursuing our efforts towards an exemplary respectful workplace environment. The scientific, engineering and administrative excellence of our Laboratory deserves to be matched with an equivalent excellence in human relationships, free from incivilities and gifted with a well-known level of ethical leadership.

I would like to say that my greatest satisfaction is seeing the Ombuds programme being continued through the decision by our Director General to appoint a new Ombuds to occupy this function and to be dedicated to an informal approach of conflict resolution. Sudeshna Datta-Cockerill has a long experience in alternative dispute resolution and will bring to the function all the skills she acquired during her career at CERN. There will then be no interruption in the Ombuds Office, the baton is passed and is in very good hands. She will be very eager to comply with the main code of honour of all Ombuds: confidentiality, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The independence of the Ombuds has been and is fully respected by the management. You can, all of you, trust her completely; she will be here to help you in any occasions, so do not hesitate to call for her. And do not forget, consult the Ombuds as early as possible for the best guarantee of a positive outcome.

Of course I leave with all my secrets. It was a great lesson and an honour to interact with all of you and I thank you for your trust. As a zen monk, I cannot finish without quoting Zen master Ryokan Taigu, a famous poet and wandering monk of the 18th-19th century, and applying his compassionate sentence to myself, your humble servant: “This year a stupid monk, next year no change.”

As a reminder, all previous Ombuds corners can be accessed in the Ombuds blog.

by Vincent Vuillemin