Voices: Determined to make a difference

The best things about my job are: being able to make a difference in people’s lives; work in different cultural contexts; and mentor local personnel to drive change. To get into this field, you need to think of your future like an engineer and design your own professional path. Be open-minded about what you can bring to the UN, don’t put up barriers to what you think you can do, identify your strengths, and go for it! - Brendan Kiernan, Infrastructure Project Manager, Kosovo*

​When I tell people that I work as an Infrastructure Project Manager for the United Nations, I usually get a blank look and have to elaborate—many people are unaware that one of the key activities the UN performs is rehabilitating all types of infrastructure, especially in post-conflict environments. To me, this is one of the most exciting things we do!

In my role with UNOPS, the majority of my time is spent engaging with project partners and community members and visiting the project site. Close communication is vital to the smooth running of our projects, and we have to make sure our partners are involved in our work at every step of the way.

An important part of my job is sharing my vision for the project with my team, and inspiring them to take ownership of the initiative and be proud of it. Fostering these personal relationships and interacting with my colleagues on a daily basis makes my job very rewarding, and helps lay the foundation for sustainable development.

Prior to joining UNOPS, I worked in construction for 20 years in the private sector. I started work as a trainee engineer at 16 years old and worked my way through several management levels. I also have a diploma in Civil Engineering, which I attained through a professional development programme with the Institute of Civil Engineers.

UNOPS provides many opportunities for professional development and self-improvement. Since joining the organization in 2009, I have significantly improved my skills as a manager, communicator and leader through internal training and mentoring.

Nowadays, I'm excited to be involved in the professional development initiatives of our project engineers and to pass on the knowledge I have been fortunate to have learned throughout my career. I am privileged to have the opportunity to make a real, tangible difference and inspire hope in people, often amid difficult circumstances. My main advice: Be determined that you can make a difference, and you will.