UNOPS

Voices: Jaap van Hierden

"What I find most rewarding about working for UNOPS is its solutions-oriented work environment, where all staff, regardless of levels or contract types, are enabled to work together to help ensure satisfied stakeholders and continuously improve the quality of its services." - Jaap van Hierden, Director, UNOPS Cambodia

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​"​After graduating from the Agricultural University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, I applied for the position of JPO in pursuit of an international career with the United Nations. In 1991, I began work for the United Nations Capital Development Fund in Freetown, Sierra Leone as a Field Implementation Officer and managed projects which included the construction of labour intensive rural roads, schools, fisheries, and rural wells as well as the establishment of a credit cooperation. As the manager of a self-contained unit, I supervised ongoing projects, produced quarterly progress/expenditure reports, and identified and coordinated new projects. In addition, I was responsible for the road, water and sanitation programmes for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"The Dutch government funded my JPO programme for four years and after an initial two year stint in Sierra Leone, I was selected for a position with what was then UNDP/OPS as the Associate Project Management Officer within its International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) outpost in Bangkok, Thailand. I supported Project Management Officers in their regular tasks, participated in missions and improved operational efficiency. After UNOPS became a separate self-financing entity in January 1995, we moved the IFAD outpost to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and created the first decentralized regional office of UNOPS. Here I was given additional responsibilities in resolving ICT connectivity issues and establishing a functioning network and desktop environment.

"During my time as a JPO, I had a certain level of autonomy for tasks that were interesting and diverse, including the formulation and implementation of projects within a country context; the supervision and support of integrated rural development projects within a region; and the operational alignment of a new regional office. These initial assignments kicked off a wide variety of roles over the years within an operational UN organization that, to me, was a fascinating ‘experiment’ trying to bring the best of the private sector and the UN together ... in the pursuit of a more efficient and effective delivery of aid with the end goal of helping alleviate poverty and facilitating a global society that respects human rights with improved opportunities for all.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to work in an international environment with colleagues from different parts of the world, tackling development issues within the broader authorization and purpose of the United Nations. What I find most rewarding about working for UNOPS is its solutions-oriented work environment, where all staff, regardless of levels or contract types, are enabled to work together to help ensure satisfied stakeholders and continuously improve the quality of its services."