Voices: Forging partnerships for development

"Working for the United Nations truly inspires me. I am part of a workforce whose daily development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contributions help improve the state of the world." - Wolfgang Aigner, European Partnerships Advisor

​"At university I had the chance to intern and conduct research in developing and transitioning countries, such as Algeria, Nicaragua and Tunisia. After university, I served in the German Government in different roles, for example as a Foreign Policy Advisor in the Federal Chancellery and with the Government's development agency, GIZ, in Azerbaijan, where I became acquainted with the challenges of development cooperation. I also worked in the private sector as a management consultant, providing strategic advice to governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations in projects in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

"At UNOPS, I work as a European Partnerships Advisor for the Asia, Europe and Middle East region. I am tasked with reaching out to partners in the field – the governments of the countries we work in, donors and other implementing partners we cooperate with. This means a lot of travelling to fascinating regions – the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Preparing and following up on these missions requires substantial analysis, concise reporting and a lot of phone calls from my desk in Copenhagen. A highlight of my work has been my missions to Albania, where I have been tasked with helping establish UNOPS as a valuable partner to the Government and donor community. To build up such a relationship 'from scratch' requires above all overcoming one major hurdle: gaining your counterpart's trust, which I find a truly rewarding task.

"My job requires a lot of creativity, analytical rigour, persistence, out-of-the-box thinking and emotional intelligence. You cannot design a development project without fully understanding the needs of your partners – and I like to listen to people and learning about their vision and challenges. My supervisors teach me how to maintain an overview of the complexities of the UN system, and how to identify the right niche for UNOPS so that we can contribute to sustainable development in our partner countries. They are also role models for exemplifying the values of the United Nations.

"Having gained experience from both the public and private sectors, I find it very rewarding that UNOPS combines the best of both worlds. We are mandated to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals through our project management, infrastructure and procurement services. At the same time, we strive for private sector effectiveness and quality. I am confident that my current tasks at UNOPS qualify me for an interesting career within the organization, the UN system or another international body.

"As a Junior Professional Officer (JPO), you are in an excellent position to try different things, to expose yourself to challenging tasks and – most important of all – to learn. Don't be satisfied with minor tasks, reach out to the field and to other UN organizations and come up with great ideas – it pays off, I guarantee you. The networks provided from both your sponsoring government as well as within UNOPS are a great start to build your own network of peers and mentors within the UN. And, last but not least, being a JPO is fun, so enjoy this rewarding time."