Voices: Putting five decades of knowledge to good use
“Team work and efficiency are things I value the most in my role with UNOPS. We all have a wide range of knowledge and communicate so well with each other — I am one part of a bigger whole.” -
UNOPS Engineer, Serbia
At 72, some people call me old, but I tell them that you can never be too old for new experiences and adventures. That is what my work with UNOPS gives me.
I graduated from the Faculty of Construction in Belgrade in the early seventies and began my career in the production of prefabricated elements. The real action began in the eighties when I managed the construction of the largest winter tourism centre in Serbia, on the Kopaonik Mountain. We started with nothing but grass fields on the slopes and finished with a water factory, waste-water treatment plant, ski-lifts, roads, electrical transfer stations, hotels and apartments. This project brought tourism to the area and created jobs for local people — it also made me passionate about infrastructure!
My career as an engineer with UNOPS in Serbia began in August 2014. I jumped into the role by assessing the needs for reconstruction after devastating floods hit our country in May of that year. My next challenge was to supervise the construction of ten private houses, in the middle of winter. The project was successful and I felt rewarded when people benefitted from the tailored and quality support we provided.
I then moved onto monitor the reconstruction of a very important road in western Serbia, which had been destroyed by the floods. This was a crucial project because more than half a million people depend on the road each year to access employment and other key services. This reconstruction work was the most interesting and difficult task I had experienced in a while. The flooding and the landslides had created such extensive damage to the structure that the team had to come up with creative ways to work around problems. In one place we had to raise the road by more than a metre above the river to prevent future flooding.
With funding from the European Union, UNOPS in Serbia contributed largely to the flood relief and provided timely support to people whose lives were impacted. Team work and efficiency are things I value the most in my role with UNOPS. We all have a wide range of knowledge and communicate so well with each other — I am one part of a bigger whole.
I may have worked for half a century, but I continue to learn and grow. This, I believe, is the best way to lead, and complete quality and sustainable projects. I love what I do and plan to work until I turn 85, after which I will continue to consult.