Voices: Katrin Lichtenberg
"I was privileged to be able to travel to and participate in many inter-agency and decentralized cooperation meetings – engaging with many people from both UN and non-UN agencies." -
Senior Portfolio Manager, Water and Energy Cluster Head
"I first joined UNOPS as an intern in 1995 after completing my Masters of Arts in Modern History and Political Science. In 1997, I started my Junior Professional Officer (JPO) assignment with UNOPS in the division of Rehabilitation and Social Sustainability in Geneva.
"My position had a dual focus: I managed projects in support of disaster management and rehabilitation including a UN wide training programme building disaster management and preparedness capacity.
"I was also the contact person within the division for inter-agency cooperation, in particular for agencies active in the post-conflict and humanitarian field based in Geneva.
"In 1998, under the guidance of the division head, I established a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for UNOPS to be a managing agent for some of their portfolios. Although there were initial challenges, I managed this successful project until 2004 when OHCHR formed its own internal management capacity system.
"During this time, I was also responsible for promoting city-to-city (twinning) partnerships and cooperation between regions as part of broader development projects. This gave me a fantastic opportunity to travel to many places where people were enthusiastically engaged in development activities.
"I very much enjoyed my two years as a JPO. I worked with a very motivated and enthusiastic team and had a very supportive supervisor whose management style I now endeavour to emulate.
"After the conclusion of my JPO assignment, I remained in Geneva with UNOPS for another 11 years. During this time, I have had many responsibilities, including the management of large portfolios on refugee support and reintegration, and disaster management and preparedness.
"In 2010, I was promoted to head the Water and Energy Cluster, a role I still hold today. This is a wonderful and challenging portfolio, protecting international waters worldwide.
"Looking back on my JPO experience, it gave me the knowledge and management tools I need and use today. I was privileged to be able to travel to and participate in many inter-agency and decentralized cooperation meetings – engaging with many people from both UN and non-UN agencies. It was the foundation for my now extensive network, both in terms of work and friendship, and it gave me confidence to pursue my career in the UN.
"UNOPS is an organization that strives for innovation and flexibility. I am proud of the fact that UNOPS concentrates on performing the logistical, technical and managerial requirements of a project to ensure the job is done and done well."