Voices: Daniel Ziegler
"Working for UNOPS as a JPO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has helped me to better understand the complexities of political, humanitarian and development assistance, especially in post-conflict contexts." -
"During my studies, I worked as an intern for the UN Refugee Agency in Nuremberg, and was also active in a group counselling rejected asylum seekers in prison. To continue in a similar field after graduation, I participated in a programme with the United Nations in Angola where I managed a portfolio of community stabilization projects to facilitate the return and reintegration of Angolans refugees. These experiences showed me the direct impact the UN’s work has on people’s lives and motivated me to apply for the JPO programme funded by the German Government.
"Working for UNOPS as a JPO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has helped me to better understand the complexities of political, humanitarian and development assistance, especially in post-conflict contexts.
"One of the first projects I was assigned to was the construction of a road aimed at improving access to markets for local communities. Everywhere, everything was green, covered in bush and bamboo and difficult to access. The team put in a lot of effort to create decent working conditions and work efficiently and the project has progressed well. While approaching the area from the air during my last visit, I could see the yellow line of the road stretching through the forest, connecting villages and people.
"On a daily basis, I revise documents and follow up on project issues, as well as support my colleagues in the field from UNOPS office in Kinshasa. Furthermore, I meet with donors, government officials and colleagues from other agencies that are part of the UN presence in DR Congo. I regularly visit field locations to talk to partners and see how the projects have progressed, what challenges have been faced and how the local communities perceive our work.
"During my time at UNOPS, I have greatly enhanced my project management skills through training such as the Project Manager Foundation course and high quality digital tools, as well as through experience on the job. I have also been involved in the bigger picture, contributing to strategic decisions and the integration of cross-cutting issues and innovation in our operations.
"After one year, my experience at UNOPS has been fantastic – the work is never boring, and being involved in so many different areas gives me a clearer understanding of where I want my career to go. I enjoy working in a self-financed organization that leads in transparency, where savings made from operations benefit people in need. Also, I am intrigued by UNOPS constant drive to improve, deliver better projects and contribute to better lives.
"How is life in Kinshasa? ‘Au rythme du pays’, as the people say. There are plenty of challenges along the way, both professional and personal. Living in this context, it is always good to have a plan–and to not mind throwing it overboard, and going with a different option.
"No matter what area of work you choose for your JPO experience, make sure you have an idea why you want to do it and how. If you are motivated, interested in constant learning and willing to make a contribution, this will be an inspiring opportunity for your next two years, and maybe well beyond."