Country Director - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Stine is a 40-year-old Norwegian woman who joined the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 2007 as a programme assistant at the Oslo Head Office.
For the first 10 years, she alternated between missions in the field and stints at Head Office, operating on many facets of NRC’s humanitarian work.
In 2017, Stine left for Ethiopia with her partner and their two young children. She was hired as Head of Programme and became Country Director one year later.
I was hired in 2007 at NRC’s Head Office in Oslo, as programme assistant for Asia and Latin America.
After a few months, I was offered the chance to support the Kabul office and went there for two exciting months. Soon after, they asked me to come back as a grants coordinator. I accepted and stayed in Kabul for nearly a year. That’s where I learned how NRC works in the field. How we run assistance programmes. How we collaborate with donors and partners.
After that year, I came back to Head Office as a programme coordinator for Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Timor-Leste successively. In that job, I travelled a lot and interacted with donors and governments.
Later, in 2011, I desired to go back to the field. NRC gave me a leave of absence so I could work for a year with UNHCR in Malaysia, with a focus on education and youth.
In 2012, I came back to NRC Head Office as programme adviser for South Sudan. After my first child and a period of maternity leave, there had been a reorganisation and I applied for a post as head of strategy and internal processes in the field operations department. I had my second child whilst in that role in 2015.
In 2016, I started looking for a family duty posting. I applied for the head of programme position in Ethiopia, as it is a location that would be safe enough to bring my partner and our two children. In 2017, I was appointed head of programme in Ethiopia and we moved with the family to Addis Ababa. A year later, the country director left, and I applied for that position as I had been doing gap-filling for some months. I was offered the position in May 2018.
As a country director, I supervise all NRC’s activities in Ethiopia. I am responsible for the following activities, amongst others:
- Fundraising and implementation of funds.
- Strategy and implementation of programmes in NRC's areas of expertise, such as shelter, water and sanitation, and education.
- Cooperating with the Ethiopian government regarding who leads the humanitarian response.
- The safety and security of our staff (300 NRC employees plus some refugees are working for us in Ethiopia).
- Coordination of our seven area offices.
Combining work and family life
I have set up our life to combine working as a country director and living as a family.
I have been determined to make it work, and have set up our life for it. In Ethiopia, childcare is affordable, thus we have help. My partner is working part-time and spends more time with the family. My travels are quite short and take place within the working week, so I get to see my children most of the weekends.
I am also fortunate to have a leave of absence from Head Office, giving me the opportunity to go back to Norway – something that is important for my partner.
PS: Any advice for canditates?
At NRC, we have the ambition to achieve together instead of working as individuals.
I appreciate the fact that NRC colleagues are highly competent. That our teams have the ambition to achieve something together instead of working as individuals. That we are always challenging ourselves to do better.
For example, in April 2018, our regional director for East Africa and Yemen assembled 30 directors and programme staff from across the region, for a whole week, to define our joint ambitions. We debated our ways of operating. Very openly, with room for critical reflection. What we do well. Where we are not delivering so well. The challenges we face.
Since this was written, Stine has moved on to another position within NRC.