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Learning on the job with… Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei

September 20, 2011 | LND | SDC Experiences |

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Enkh-Amgalan TseeleiAs with many things knowledge management starts with ourselves. Today’s interviewee Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei talks about her personal strategies, about knowledge sources and networks supporting her in daily work. As National Programme Officer (NPO) she has been working in the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, from April 2005 to September 2010. Since September 2010 she is manager of the Green Gold Project of SDC Mongolia.

By Corinne Sprecher

Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei, what supports you most in doing a good job?

… from your educational and professional background?

My educational background and experience in natural resource management and rural development issues in Mongolia were always very helpful as I needed to give project partners and beneficiaries very professional and well thought feedbacks. I reckon, it is very important for NPOs to have a speciality in one of the areas SDC is working, otherwise, I noticed that at times some NPOs have only the role of administration person or secretary and have a passive attitude towards projects. NPOs should be actively involved in the project design, implementation and monitoring. In addition, my understanding and appreciation of local culture and ethics have helped me greatly to communicate SDC policy and intentions to local partners, especially at policy and strategic level. I benefited greatly from my improved presentation and facilitation skills on these tasks.

… from your team at the SDC cooperation office?

During my working years at SDC, I have greatly benefited from professional coaching of both Country Directors, Markus Dubach and Felix Fellmann. I learned how to write project proposals, credit proposals, and to capture and maintain strategic and policy directions at the SCO level. This helps to monitor the project outcomes at the SCO level.

What are other supporting factors from outside that you find useful?

Professional networks, such as SDC’s climate change and the employment and income networks have been very helpful. Once, I have learned about how to design development project interventions in Value Chain Development, it was a good example of PPP.

Further, training combined with study tours in countries from where best practices and experiences can be shared is always very useful. Nepal has many experiences in terms of development cooperation in Natural Resource Management, Kyrgyzstan in employment and income etc.

In the last few weeks, what was the most important information source that you have used in your job?

I have been reading lately papers and some internet links sent by colleagues from overseas partner organizations about how to present and report in the best ways, especially about photo reporting.

With whom do you share your questions and your learning in your job?

I share my opinions mainly with the Country Director as he is a very open and kind person. It is very important for people working at the management level, to be open and to welcome ideas from his or her subordinates although these might take some time. Through these formal and informal conversations and exchange of ideas, important local knowledge, information and context based specifics are shared. I also try to interact more often informally and formally with project managers and I learn a lot from their practical experiences and local insights.

In what aspects do you see a need for further support to do your job even better?

Communication and moderation skills would be an added value to my job as we often need to be a good mediator between SDC as a funding agency and local partners.

Are you member of a SDC thematic network? How do you assess the support you get from the network?

Yes, I have been a member of two networks for some time: the climate change and the employment and income network. However, unless I take the time and make the effort to read contributions from the network, I tend to skip it being busy with more urgent tasks. I think the SCO should have a policy for NPOs to read and a reason to access to the networks and learn. For instance, during the Summit on Climate Change in 2009/2010, I was able to keep up to date on the progress through the network.

What are your expectations towards the network?

It would be helpful if the network administrator gives hints on interesting and important information to look at. I also think SDC needs a certain policy to make the networks important information sources while announcing important or ‘must’ information. I see the tendency among NPOs that the network’s site and mailing list is only something to look at when they are free or have nothing else to do.

I observe quite a passive attitude with regards to networks. I think it may be due to the fact that we receive so much information by email and internet, and the network is also internet based.

Have you contributed to the network?

No, I have not contributed yet. Though I had some information, but I didn’t know how to share it.

Have you ever participated in a f2f-event of a SDC network? If yes, in which? What did you take home from the meeting? What was most impressive, most helpful for your work? What have you learnt?

I participated in f2f event held on the topic “Market System Approach-M4P” in May 2010 in Bern, Switzerland. I was one of the keynote speaker and made a presentation reviewing the approach and design of “Market opportunities for rural entrepreneurs” project implemented in Mongolia by Mercy Co International with the funding of SDC.

Once back in 2008 I participated in a training organized by Springfield Center in Thailand on “Market System Approach”. After the training I went home a bit confused not knowing what to apply at which levels, and overall my impression was that the training content was a bit theoretical. At this same event on May 2011, a consultant from the Springfield Center made a presentation on the same Market System of MP4 Approach and this time it was more grounded giving more attentions on the application side. There I did really understand the core of the approach and was able to make analysis on SDC projects from that perspective.

One small comment about the organization of the event is that this network event was only for one day and I came there all the way from Mongolia. So, I was a bit concerned from cost-benefits points of view. However, I very much appreciate efforts of SDC colleagues to encourage attendance of local staff and listen to their opinions. I have worked in two other donor organizations and I can firmly say that during my working years in SDC, I have greatly benefited from demand oriented and good quality trainings. Many of the skills and knowledge I gained I use in my everyday work now and make an effort to provide the same opportunities to my Mongolian partners and colleagues.

South-south exchange: Are you in contact with colleagues that work on similar issues in other countries of the south or the east? How did you get in touch? Through an SDC-network?

In my opinion, the Mongolia program would benefit more from experiences of former Soviet countries for instance in Central Asia rather than experiences of South East Asia. I think Mongolia differs greatly from countries in south East Asia in terms of ecological situation as well as social and economic construct. Especially in terms of Natural Resource Management and Income and Employment issues, more exchanges could be learnt from Kyrgyzstan or other Central Asian programs.

Do you have any wishes or ideas on how the Learning and Networking Division could support your work or the work of your team?

So much information we receive every day. Sometimes as it takes time, going through all and learning, we tend to skip or ignore. If there is a possibility to send out “must” read information in a precise form, this would help a lot.

Thank you, Enkhie, for this interview!

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