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Learning on the job with… Shakarbek Niyatbekov

November 29, 2011 | LND | SDC Networks |

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Interview by Carsten Schulz, Agridea

ShakarAs with many things knowledge management starts with ourselves. Today’s interviewee Shakarbek Niyatbekov talks about his personal strategies, about knowledge sources and networks supporting him in daily work. He is working at the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in Tajikistan since 2005. He started as a project manager at the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of the SCO in Tajikistan. Later on after integration of the PIU into the main office he continued his work as National Program Officer responsible for the Rule of Law / Access to Justice projects funded by SDC in Tajikistan.
 
  1. Shakar, what aspects of your educational and professional background most support you in doing a good job at SDC?
    I have been working in the development sector for the last 10 years and the experience gained during this time helps me a lot. I have a legal background that initially predetermined my preferences of working in the legal sector development. I started my career in 2001 in Soros Foundation Branch Office in Tajikistan dealing with several legal projects. When I started my work with SCO beside my legal education I already had additional experience of project/program management that helped me to cope with my tasks at SCO.                             
  2. What has been the most helpful support from your team at the Swiss cooperation office?
    Unfortunately in the beginning of my work for the SCO, the handing-over process with my predecessors was not very smooth (due to administrative reasons). At that time back in 2005 I felt even blind managing the projects that I was hardly introduced to. I think this was the time when the given support by my colleagues was very crucial to me in order to understand the ideas of the projects and familiarize with internal management procedures. This support helped me a lot in accommodating myself into the SCO working style and also clearly demonstrated the team spirit of our office.                            
  3. What are other supporting factors from outside (professional network, friends, books, training courses, Internet etc.) that you find useful?
    There are many factors helping somehow in my daily work and I personally prefer using different supporting instruments. I think that professional networks on local and international levels are very important, because they allow finding relevant information and sources such as books, training courses, news, etc. Friends are always useful if you need to update or verify information. With regards to Internet, I think this is a very important and supporting source for such countries like Tajikistan, where access to information is limited. I would also like to mention the Internet based social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, which allow quick exchange of news and communication.                            
  4. In the last few weeks, what was the most important information source that you have used in your job?
    Over the last few weeks I extensively used Internet to make a research on a criminal case of a Russian pilot arrested in Tajikistan and the Tajik labour migration situation in Russia. Besides I am using the SDC Intraweb looking through the Field book for some document templates, guidelines and examples that are relevant for my work.                            
  5. With whom do you share your questions and learning in your job?
    First of all I share my questions with my colleagues at SCO, as well as with my colleagues from different partner organizations (including our implementing partner agencies) here in Tajikistan. On some program and financial issues I can address questions to the relevant colleagues at SDC Berne. I try to keep in touch with my colleagues working in the offices in the Central Asia region, such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and I have certain level of communication with the Swiss Embassy in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately I do not have any regular contacts or exchange with my SDC colleagues in other countries yet.                            
  6. In what aspects and fields do you see a need for support to do your job even better?
    For the time being SDC was quite successful in optimizing most of the internal processes, so the management side of my work is well regulated and clear. But for thematic issues, I feel a lack of external expert support that could have been useful in developing new approaches. At the level of our SDC funded implementing partner agencies, they use their own expert resources from different parts of the world helping to define proper strategies. However at the SCO we are rather limited in such resources. External review missions, which could be useful for internal learning, are usually conducted at the final stages of the program implementation. That is why my expectations of expert support from the SDC thematic networks are rather high.                            
  7. Are you member of a SDC thematic network? In which one(s)?
    Yes, I was introduced to the newly established Conflict and Human Rights (CHR) Network only this year right before and during my participation in the face to face meeting in Amman in June 2011.
    Since the CHR Network is new, the relations among the members are just developing now. We have been able to define thematic groups to further strengthen SDC’s vision on certain topics and provide better guidelines for the program implementation. I expect that the CHR Network would be the bridge between different SCOs, that would allow our Rule of Law program in Tajikistan having a wider access to observe different practices and program approaches. Moreover I expect that the CHR network will become an expert source to which we may address our questions and discuss possible innovative ideas.
    Nevertheless my first impression of the CHR Network is very positive. In the CHR f2f event in June 2011 in Amman, I was impressed by the motivation of people from different SCOs and their dedication to development processes in their own countries. It was very interesting to find some commonalities amongst different programs and discuss lessons learnt with my colleagues from other regions of the world.
    I think that f2f events might be supported with some other means of communication such as e-discussions, small thematic group discussions, etc. I think e-discussions are more applicable for day-to-day network activities and the big f2f meetings should be organized for consolidation of our views. I propose to consider the possibility of establishing regular f2f and/or thematic meetings on regional level which would strengthen relations amongst National Program Officers working at SCOs in the same region.                            
  8. South-south exchange: Are you in contact with colleagues that work on similar issues in other countries of the south or the east?
    With regards to the contacts and cooperation with other colleagues it is still a challenge for me. For the time being SCO Tajikistan is undertaking a planning process of the future Rule of Law program and we are very much focused on developing our own program objectives. From our side we would like to look for examples of legal programs developed in other countries and to see whereas we can use their experience. I hope that CHR Network resources will help us in establishing relevant contacts and here we also rely on support from the desk officer at SDC Berne.                            
  9. Do you have any wishes or ideas on how SDC (particularly the Learning and Networking Division) could support your work or the work of your team?
    I am still in the process of working closer within the CHR Network, so any good ideas are most welcome from your side. I also hope that the Learning and Networking Division is in close contact with Corporate Controlling, as it might be extremely useful to learn from the existing lessons/examples and to have effective evaluation tools based on the needs of the thematic networks.

Thank you for this interview, Shakar!

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