Voices: Mikko Lainejoki

"Being a JPO broadened my perspective on life and work, increased my confidence and taught me how to work in a very diverse environment." - Mikko Lainejoki, Director and Representative, Afghanistan Operational Hub

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​​"​I began my career in the UN as a JPO for the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1982, based in Zimbabwe. Our work covered 15 countries in eastern and southern Africa, from Tanzania to Lesotho, and also included countries in the Indian Ocean. During this time, an immunization programme was established and I was responsible for setting up the cold chain distribution systems for vaccines for all countries within the region. In addition, I trained staff in cold chain distribution, logistics and middle level programme management.

Once my JPO assignment was complete, I returned to the private sector and worked at companies designing and contracting commercial refrigeration systems and manufacturing heavy machinery for underground mining and construction work, among others. My roles included project, sales and business line management.

In late 1991, I joined UNICEF’s Ethiopia office as the cold chain expert for the office’s immunization programme. At the conclusion of my assignment, I was transferred to the UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen to handle the procurement of immunization supplies. I remained in the supply function in different positions within UNICEF for 15 years, until I was given the opportunity in 2006 to head UNICEF’s tsunami recovery programme in India. After six months on this project, I moved to UNOPS to lead the Three Diseases Fund in Myanmar for four years before moving to Pakistan to head the UNOPS country office.

I found my time as a JPO very rewarding. As a member of a small team, I was given the freedom to take on much more responsibility than I would have if stationed at headquarters. I have never had as much job satisfaction as during my time as a JPO. The work and the country of Zimbabwe were interesting and I was able to maintain a good work-life balance – this was very fulfilling. I enjoyed my work tremendously and felt that I was doing something good and valuable.

Being a JPO broadened my perspective on life and work, increased my confidence and taught me how to work in a very diverse environment. More importantly, those years instilled within me the importance of human rights for every individual. It was also the springboard for my later career.

Now at UNOPS, I enjoy having the flexibility and freedom to pursue new ways of approaching projects and the great spirit of cooperation in which the organization operates."