|Post-war Reconstruction and Development|
|MA in Pist-war Recovery Studies|
|Global Roving and Emergency Response Security Manager|
|Norwegian Refugee Council|
|Politics and public affairs|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Global Roving and Emergency Response Security Manager in Norway
Don't follow the path most trodden. My career has progressed faster than most because I did a lot of different things and was willing to go where others weren't.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is an independent humanitarian organisation helping people forced to flee.
Our backgrounds vary greatly, but we all share the same drive: to get the job done. With operations in over 30 countries, NRC employs a wide range of professionals. Our impact is profound.
We protect displaced people and support them as they build a new future. We started our relief efforts after World War Two. Today, we work in both new and protracted crises across 33 countries. We specialise in six areas: food security, education, shelter, legal assistance, camp management, and water, sanitation and hygiene.
We stand up for people forced to flee. NRC is a determined advocate for displaced people. We promote and defend displaced people's rights and dignity in local communities, with national governments and in the international arena. NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva is a global leader in monitoring, reporting on and advocating for people displaced within their own country.
We respond quickly to emergencies. Our expert deployment capacity, NORCAP, boasts around 1,000 experts from all over the world who can be deployed within 72 hours. NORCAP experts help improve international and local ability to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from crises.
Around 7,000 men and women work for the Norwegian Refugee Council. Most of us are hired locally to work in the field, and a small number are based at our head office in Oslo. Many of our colleagues were once themselves fleeing their homes.
What do you do?
A professional in the mixed fields of post-conflict recovery, humanitarian diplomacy and security risk management with a demonstratable record of success in dealing with complex political, humanitarian and security challenges. Able to quickly establish credibility, build relationships and trust with a broad range of actors. Focused skills and insights in the application of coordination, contextual analysis and strategic planning to drive project impact. Strong team player with proven leadership and stakeholder management skills and extensive experience of working in challenging environments with minimal supervision to deliver results. Extensive field experience in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Ukraine, Myanmar and others. I've done everything from negotiating with terrorist organisations in Syria to developing multi-agency strategies for the UN in Nigeria, commanded convoys of armored vehicles through Libya to wining and dining with government ministers in Kabul. My current role is to solve "problems" including everything from kidnap and ransom negotiations, managing large scale evacuations of staff, developing new strategies and security procedures and analysing specific contexts, plus a whole lot more.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I've had lots of different jobs in lots of different places. It was initially hard to predict which way my career would take me, all I knew was I wanted to travel, experience different cultures and leave the world a slightly better place if I could help it. I initially began as a researcher for one of the world's leading political negotiators, then I ended up spending a lot of time in various conflict zones and became quite good at keeping myself and others alive, hence the jump to security.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
To some extent, though in some ways it's been a logical progression, if not a slightly irregular one. I think it's totally acceptable in this day and age to move jobs a few times, provided you're always learning and not leaving any teams in a difficult position by jumping out unexpectedly. Your 20's are all about finding what it is in life that interests and excites you and its only once you're in your 30's that you start to refine that.
Describe your most memorable day at work
I've had many, for better or for worse, but it's hard to describe a lot of them. This year, my most memorable day was the culmination of about two months of negotiations to enter a prison in Raqqa, Syria, which contained former ISIS fighters so I could go in and identify the children who were also detained so we could provide medical support to them. They were in a terrible condition, with hundreds of people in each cell, they had skin diseases, they had malnutrition and tuberculosis. Some of the children were as young as eight, but we were able to take them to an improved facility away from the adult inmates where they would still be detained, but in significantly better conditions. Not only were we able to provide them with the basic support and human rights they deserve, but hopefully we also avoided them becoming the next generation of terrorists in the process. It was a tough day, but a satisfying one.
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
Trying to keep a cool head when things are blowing up around me...literally. Also, negotiating with people who I fundamentally disagree with, but finding that common ground. Avoiding food poisoning in war zones...harder than it sounds.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
As I write this, I'm sat in a beautiful office in Oslo, looking out of the window at the snow falling over the fjord. A week ago, I was in the middle of a jungle in South East Asia leading a team of humanitarians to a village to deliver essential humanitarian support. Two months ago, I was in North East Nigeria being shelled by Islamic State. The environment varies, but the people remain the same - driven to provide life saving services (whatever form that may come in) to vulnerable and often forgotten people (wherever they may be).
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
A bit of rugby, Officer Training Corps, I co-founded the Environment Society. Not enough really - I wish I'd used my time to do more "sensible" stuff, though I had some exceptional parties. Zero regrets.
What would you like to do next with your career?
The next move for me will likely be to a Global Director of Security role. Not sure I want to continue hanging around in conflict zones once I have children, but fortunately there are plenty of other options for me, be it high-level negotiations for the UN in Geneva or New York, or as a Global Security Manager for a private company in Norway. I have recently been offered some work with the UK Foreign Office in London, but for the time being, I like to be in the field.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Don't follow the path most trodden. My career has progressed faster than most because I did a lot of different things and was willing to go where others weren't. That being said, I did it because I was interested in what I was doing and I enjoyed it, so there was no real plan. It's not until the past couple of years that I started to strategise and plan my future career with a lot more focus. I think it's very good to find mentors and champions in the fields you wish to work in and expand your network. Most of all, don't be afraid to reach out to people for guidance and support - no one got to where they are without help. Finally, be confident - you're a whole lot better than you think you are and if you're reading this now and will be graduating soon, you're more privileged than 95+% of the rest of the world. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Happy to answer any questions at all. If someone has specific questions, there's is probably a good reason for it and if someone has no questions at all, I'm happy to just brainstorm. I've worked in the military, government (UK and others as an advisor), the UN, the private sector and NGOs, so hopefully I've picked up the odd thing along the way and can at least have a chat with some bright and budding future graduates.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't been to UoY.
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