Iván Baztán

Iván Baztán

2009 - Iván Baztán, JPO funded by Spain, shares with us his experience in Panama with UNDP.


No matter how hard it rains, the sun will always rise...


Where are you from?



What is your background?

I got my master in development studies and a bachelor degree in information sciences. Before I started my JPO assignment in Panama, I worked in the field of development with UN agencies (UNDP and IRIN-OCHA), bilateral cooperation (AECID) and a Spanish NGO (FPyS) in countries like Turkey, Jordan, Mozambique, and Lao PDR and from Spain too. Previous to my international experience, I also worked in the private sector in the field of corporate communications and journalism.


JPO Assignment


What has been your assignment as a JPO?

I am serving in UNDP Panama as a Programme Analyst within the Democratic Governance Cluster. When I first arrived I spent a few months in getting across of what the office was doing. After a while, I began to co-managing a number of projects within the cluster and started to identify new areas of intervention, which could be of interest for the country office and our national counterparts. By mobilizing new resources from different donors and taking the lead in coordinating a number of inter-agency initiatives, I created a new service line within the governance cluster based in citizens' security and justice and became the focal point for the coordination of this area. This new field of intervention includes the implementation of two Joint Programmes, involving several UN agencies and national and local counterparts, and three more projects in areas of justice and decentralization.


Which random words come to your mind when thinking about your JPO years?

Many thoughts that can be grouped in just a couple of words... Unique Opportunity.


Career path


In what way do you think your JPO assignment has shaped your career?

Well, we'll see :) ... It is soon to answer this question, though I can say it has given me the chance to focus my work in the governance programmatic area.


What are your major lessons learned during your JPO assignment in terms of professional growth, career planning and opportunities?

Limitations do not justify a lack of results delivery, something significant can be done in most cases.


What is your motivation to work in the field of development?

I had great experiences working for the private sector, but it never satisfied me as much as working for a non-profit organization, which values and mission have a human and humanitarian approach. I rather concentrate my efforts in trying and making a difference to improve other people’s lives. It has a big vocational component.


Most enriching professional achievement so far?

From inside the office: my evolution from doing very operational job, at the beginning of my assignment, until I created a new thematic area in citizens’ security and led the coordination of several UN agencies in two inter-agency Joint Programmes.


What kind of advice would you give to JPOs?

Take the lead of your own JPO-ship. This is a great opportunity, not only from a professional point of view, but personally as well. It also brings a whole new life style, therefore, one needs to be aware off the impact it has in our personal lives if the goal is to start an international career. It has many positive things, such as getting to know people from different cultures, other countries and diverse ways of understanding life and, most importantly, the chance of doing something that will have a positive impact in somebody else’s life. However, sometimes it is also hard being away from home. Even though Skype is a good way to be in touch with people in your home countries, it is wise to work for enabling a friendly environment with your office colleagues and creating an active social life so home will be wherever you are.


By the way...


Your crowning glory:

Wow... This one is difficult.


The last favourite book you read:

"Rogue Economics", Loretta Napoleoni.


Behind the suit:

Someone who enjoys playing piano, doing yoga and share Asian food in a round table.


Favourite quote:

No matter how hard it rains, the sun will always rise.



Nam Myoho Rengue Kyo.