NRC staff members attending a workshop led by Sprint Consulting.
Sprint Consulting

Improving efficiency and building capacity through private sector partnership

Partnering with private sector experts has become an essential part of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) operations. This is exemplified by our most recent collaboration with Sprint Consulting to improve operational efficiency. The collaboration underscores the potential of private sector partnerships to support humanitarian efforts.

In 2022, NRC embarked on an ambitious journey of strengthening our strategic planning and development unit. “We had little capacity, high ambitions, and a sense of urgency,” says Geir Olav Lisle, Head of Organisational Development and Deputy Secretary General at NRC.

The unit faced delays due to a shortage in staff numbers, so NRC reached out to a trusted private sector partner, Sprint Consulting, to fill the gap.

“NRC is a world leader in humanitarian programming, and we are good at what we are good at,” says Geir Olav. ”But when it comes to actual capacity to develop the organisation, and drawing on expertise to drive efficiency and develop ways of working and so on, we don’t always have that internally.”

Private sector partners have been a crucial asset to NRC and its operations, especially when it comes to overcoming organisational development challenges.

Tiril Hanssen and Joakim Dimoski, two Sprint consultants, have been working with NRC as full-time employees for a little over a year. Tasked with improving operational efficiency, the team took on multiple projects, including streamlining budgeting and planning, as well as supporting NRC’s Global Recruitment Centre.

“The people of Sprint and our people turned out to be a great match,” says Geir Olav. “I think the Sprint people feel like they are ‘NRC-ers’ and our people are really keen and happy to get new colleagues, energy and skills.”

“It’s been great to build our people. If you empower and enable people to do a better job they will excel, so I think that’s key,” he adds.

NRC has been working with Sprint Consulting since 2022. Sprint is a Norwegian consulting firm that provides NRC with pro-bono services to improve efficiency and build the capacity of its staff members.
NRC's Global HR Adviser Michael describing one of the processes during a workshop with the Sprint consultants.
NRC's Global HR Adviser Michael describing one of the processes during a workshop with the Sprint consultants. Photo: Sprint Consulting

Supporting the Global Recruitment Centre

NRC’s Global Recruitment Centre is based in Nairobi, Kenya. The Centre’s main mission is to recruit experts from across the globe to join NRC’s humanitarian cause and support its operations. The Centre is also responsible for managing the employment contracts of international staff.

Within the workflows, a few pain points were identified that were causing discrepancies and adding to the contracting team’s heavy workload.

“It was clear that there have been some challenges when it comes to international contracting,” says Lilly Gatune, NRC’s Head of Shared Service at the Global Recruitment Centre. “It is very important that we get the basics down especially when it comes to contracting, and it was decided that a review should take place.”

During the project’s implementation period, the Sprint team joined NRC colleagues in Kenya to work directly with the team. They spent a week conducting workshops and working closely with the team in Nairobi to identify ways to make their work more efficient and eliminate system errors. They conducted interviews with staff members throughout the organisation to gather extensive feedback, primarily aiming to enhance end-user satisfaction and facilitate a seamless recruitment contracting process for both candidates and hiring managers.

“I want to brag about the team in Kenya,” says Joakim. “The team has really taken ownership of what we have agreed on and are doing it. We have already implemented quite a lot of the measures we have proposed. That has been very rewarding.”

The cooperation between the consultants and the Nairobi team yielded invaluable results. Together, they implemented changes that made the contracting process more user-friendly for candidates, as well as changes to how the team is organised.

“It was so pleasant working with the NRC team,” says Tiril. “Just to see that they were keen on cooperating and all the good conversations, discussions and results that we have had – that has been the biggest accomplishment from my side at least.”

Rewarding collaborations

Tiril concluded her role last year, while Joakim will continue until the end of March 2024. After a year of working with various teams to streamline operations, they reflect on their experience working with a humanitarian organisation.

“Working with NRC has been rewarding for us as well, because we have been taken in and given a lot of trust and opportunities,” says Joakim.

“I think it is very valuable to combine the business mentality from the private sector with the purpose-driven mentality in the humanitarian sector."