Voices: Jan Mattsson

"Being a JPO made me realize that the sky is the limit with regards to opportunities and your ability to make a real difference." - Jan Mattsson, Former Executive Director

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​Read more about Jan Mattsson on the management page.

"I first entered the United Nations as a JPO for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1982. I was based in Sri Lanka and spent two and a half years in that position.

"During this time, I was able to establish great contacts with government counterparts, office colleagues and experts. A memory that stays with me was the atrocities against the Tamils in Colombo. I got involved in life-saving activities, to the extent that I literally got in the line of fire.

"My time as a JPO was a fantastic learning opportunity, and looking back I am amazed at the level of responsibility I was given at the time. For me it was the entry point to the UN and the first round of learning about the UN’s work – a process that continues to this day. Being a JPO made me realize that the sky is the limit with regards to opportunities and your ability to make a real difference. I have learned that if you establish a strong connection between your work and how it impacts people you can make a positive difference to people’s lives.

"After my time in Sri Lanka I took on many jobs in the field within the Asian region. Positions included working as a Resident Coordinator and Country Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Later I moved to UNDP headquarters as Director of the Bureau of Management where my responsibilities were numerous and included: change management, strategic planning, human resources, finance, budget management, IT, legal, procurement, security, and general administration.

"I joined UNOPS in 2006 as Executive Director at its headquarters in Copenhagen. I firmly believe that UNOPS gives people the opportunity and flexibility to make a difference on the ground where quality and speed really matter.

It is a privilege to work for the UN, acting locally, guided by the values and principles of the world community."