Voices: One foot in HQ, the other in the field
“My interest in peacebuilding brought me to UNOPS, first in New York and now in Copenhagen, but it was seeing UNOPS innovative approach that really got me excited about working here. As a part of a growing Asia, Europe and Middle East office, it’s important that we position ourselves between the great initiatives coming from headquarters and our field colleagues who have their hands full. We need to keep striking the balance between innovating and getting the work done.” -
Operations Analyst, AEMO
I am an Operations Analyst with the Asia, Europe and Middle East office (AEMO) at UNOPS. I provide support to the regional director and deputy, as well as our nine field offices. The scope of the region is huge: from furthering our presence in Afghanistan and Myanmar; to helping the UN system respond to crises in Syria and Iraq; and positioning UNOPS in European Union accession countries like Serbia and Kosovo.
A good example is a recent visit we had from Dr Abdallah Al Dardari, Chief Economist and Director of Economic Development and Globalization Division at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA). Dr Al Dardari came to discuss a variety of possible initiatives between our two organizations, with the focus largely on post-crisis support for Syria. UNOPS is already supporting the infrastructure planning for Syria's post-crisis recovery as part of the National Agenda for the Future of Syria programme led by UNESCWA. Now the cooperation also aims to train Syrian experts in infrastructure, project management and procurement so that when a ceasefire occurs, there are skilled people locally available and poised to start work. For me, this visit was a fascinating insight into inter-UN coordination, seeing first-hand the intersection of policy and implementation.
I have a Master's in International Affairs and Conflict Resolution and prior to joining UNOPS, I served as an Infantry Officer with the United States Army, deploying twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. For one of my Iraq deployments, I was living in a town during the awakening in 2007-2008, supervising projects to help spur reconciliation between the Sunni population in Anbar Province and the Government in Baghdad. After my time in the military, I spent three months in Zambia conducting a stakeholder analysis on conflicts in natural resource management for the United Nations Development Programme, so my background has been very much field-oriented.
I had never worked in a headquarters environment before joining UNOPS, but I think having field experience really helps me better support our colleagues in the region. I understand the frustrations of difficult working environments: the security issues, access problems, transport complications, poor internet connections, the list goes on. Our field personnel have a huge workload that comes simply from being in the environments where they work, and that's before they even start their real task of delivering quality projects. Anything I can do to make their jobs a little easier keeps me very motivated.