2010 - Former Dutch JPO with UNDP in Honduras, Patrick Haverman is now working on coordinating the Millennium Villages project in 13 countries with UNDP RBA (Regional Bureau for Africa) in New York.
An ounce of action is worth a ton of words...
Where are you from?
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
What is your background?
I studied Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and worked for 4 years as a financial controller in an international Architect and Engineering firm before moving to Bolivia as a bi-lateral in an urban poverty reduction programme. After spending 2.5 years in Bolivia, I joined the UNDP as a JPO.
When and where did you work as a JPO?
Bi-laterally in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and then 2 years in the UNDP in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
What was your assignment as a JPO?
I started as a Programme Officer in Governance, and then became head of the PSU (programme finance and resource mobilization). By the end of my JPO term, I was the ARR in charge of the Service Center, managing a team of around 40 people and a portfolio of World Bank and IDB loans and some Government cost-sharing projects.
What three words come to your mind, when you think about your JPO years?
Adventure, Opportunity and Contribute (to making the world a better place).
Do you remember your "best moment" as a JPO?
While in Honduras, I worked with an amazing team – the staff was highly motivated, I felt like we "moved mountains" together.
How high do you estimate the importance of the JPO Programme?
It is very important, as it is an opportunity for the JPO to learn how the UN works and to gain valuable experience working in other countries and cultures. It is important for country offices as well, as JPOs bring with them new knowledge, technology and fresh ideas to development.
Post JPO career path
What has been your career path until now?
After completing my JPO assignment in Honduras, I joined UNDP’s LEAD programme and stayed in Honduras for another 1.5 years to finish the job we had started. I then joined the UNDP Tanzania as Deputy Strategic Operations for almost one year, during which we started a complex project for the National Permanent Voter Register. Then, I joined ARMADA initiative (Advancing Resource Mobilization and Delivery for Africa) and became a "nomad" for 1.5 years, during which I helped train 5 batches of about 30 UNVs (United Nations Volunteers) and undertook 23 missions to Country Offices in Africa to assess how delivery could be improved with the help of the UNVs as additional capacity. Since then, I have been working in RBA (Regional Bureau for Africa) in New York, coordinating the Millennium Villages project in 13 countries with a complex range of partners.
In what way has your JPO assignment shaped your career?
I still apply what I learned during my first two years as a JPO in Honduras. The opportunities I got from the Resident Coordinator, but above all everything I learned from the Deputy and Operations Manager, I use in my current work on a daily basis. On top of that, all the experiences and joy in working with all the people in the country office have shaped me into the person I am today, and for that I am very grateful!
What are your major lessons learned during your career in terms of professional growth, career planning and opportunities?
Seize the opportunity! In the UN nobody will give you perfect guidance in the system, so don’t wait for someone to approach you – if you see something interesting and you want to be involved, offer your help and/or volunteer to contribute. Value and respect all the people you work with. Value the enormous experiences being in the country office. Work as a team. Stay away from negative gossip and focus on positive things, make change happen!
Most enriching professional achievement so far?
There are so many, but here a few from my years at UNDP…
In Honduras we did really "cool" stuff. We helped the government strengthen the health sector, such as by assisting with the purchase of the medicines (by acquiring them for 38% cheaper and getting 20 more companies – this "broke open" the market). We assisted the government in getting a fibre optic cable from one side to the other – the government had tried several times before with no luck, but finally succeeded with the help of the UNDP; we did this very fast, as a part of a total package to strengthen the capacity of the National Telecom Company.
In Tanzania we re-organized the office, and I was part of the National Electoral Committee that helped establish the first permanent national voter register, ensuring that all Tanzanians older than 18 years have a piece of identification with photo, fingerprint and signature! This had never been done before, and was therefore a very exciting project to work on with the government of Tanzania.
While in ARMADA I had the privilege of training 150 UNVs and supporting them in the work they were doing in more than 30 country offices. Also, during those 1.5 years, I visited the majority of country offices in Africa. It was such a great experience to meet all these wonderful people in the different country offices, work with UNVs and see one of the most beautiful continents of the planet.
Since moving to New York I have been working with Columbia University and Millennium Promise (an NGO) on the Millennium Villages project, which combines science, the private sector and active fundraising. It is a project with concrete results, impacting 500,000 people (the reason I work for the UN), but also affecting many policies at the national level, with governments leading efforts to take the lessons learned to scale and through one of the initiators of the project have a say in the global development discussion. This has again been a fascinating experience.
What kind of advice would you give to JPOs?
Stay positive, get involved in where your interest lies, learn as much as you can but also "get things done" (one of my favourite books), don’t get stuck in endless sessions of meetings, try to stay out of too much (office) politics, and always examine to what extent is your work is contributing to "making the world a better place".
By the way...
Your crowning glory:
Meeting former SG Kofi Annan
The last favourite book you read:
"Common Wealth" by Jeffrey D. Sachs and "Getting Things Done"
Behind the suit:
Husband, Father, Traveller (>110 countries), Optimist, Realistic Idealist
"An ounce of Action is worth a ton of words"
People who make huge sacrifices to make the world a better place, including Ghandi, Mandela and Daniel Ellsberg. I also get inspired by the current wave of democratization through the internet (for example, www.avaaz.org).