Selfie of Tor Jörgensen on ski trail
Even through many years of staying in Kenya and Tanzania, Tor has always managed to go on regular ski trips, which means a lot to him. The weather is generally better in East Africa, though…
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NIRAS’s talent programme helps Tor specialise in development consulting

The past year Tor Jörgensen has stayed in Serbia, Finland and Zambia as part of NIRAS Young Professional Academy. Soon he will go to Kenya, where he will be challenged on his understanding of cultural differences and working in areas of conflict.

Tor Jörgensen is Finnish. But he has only spent eight of his 29 years in Finland. Most of his childhood and young years in Tanzania and Kenya and right now he is based in Belgrade, Serbia – when he is not flying all around the world to work on development consulting projects.

His experience with living abroad as well as his proficiency in several languages fit well with his ambitions: To work with development consulting in potential conflict zones, particularly East Africa.

“In a way East-Africa is home, and this is why my focus and ambition is to find a professional path back,” he explains.

Changing from generalist to specialist

Tor has a background in political science – more specifically a Bachelor in Political Science from Nairobi and a Master’s degree in Conflict, Security and Development from University of Sussex, UK.

In other words, he had studied conflict and security in depth, but his education had a more generalist approach, and Tor wanted to develop into a specialist. That’s why he made the decision in 2017 to enroll in the NIRAS Young Professional Academy (NYPA). NYPA is a two-year talent programme to educate the development consultants of the future.

Theory in Belgrade…

The program consists of around 30 percent theory and 70 percent deployment, but the exact program varies for everyone according to their interests and background.

For the theory all participants gather in Belgrade, where they learn about modalities, tendering, intercultural communication and more from various experts from the NIRAS circuit. The participants also meet up outside the ”classroom” to talk and enjoy their freetime.

”We spend every day together when we’re in Serbia. In a way it’s quite intimate, and I feel like we’re close friends. When we’re deployed we have bi-weekly meetings in Skype to catch up and talk about our experiences,” Tor says.

… Deployment all over the world

Following the courses in Belgrade the participants are deployed to work on projects in the field, chosen to match their interests and skills as well as possible.

Tor’s first deployment was to his native Finland, where he worked on the tender processes for a large EU frameworks contract.

For his second deployment he was sent to Zambia for four months, where he also worked with tendering, but on much smaller projects, often with a focus on small and medium enterprises.

”I analysed the market, found projects, searched for the right people for the teams, set up teams, collected data and wrote a lot of material. Lots of writing!” Tor grins.

Currently he has been in Belgrade for a while, but in a couple of weeks he is going to Kenya, where he expects the tasks will be even more aligned with his background.

”I will be working more with areas of conflict and will have to take this into account in my day-to-day job.”

A trusting environment

The amount of trust he has felt from various other professionals has been one of the most rewarding experiences of Tor’s participation in NYPA so far:

”The way the working environment is structured here in NIRAS has made a big impression on me. Every door is always open and everyone will find the time to talk to you. The hierachy is very non-traditional. Everyone just trusts each other to take initiative and responsibility, so there’s no micro-managing.”

In the near future Tor hopes to become one of NIRAS experts himself. In the far future he might want to explore specialist jobs in other international organisations or firms:

”My first goal is definitely to stay in NIRAS after NYPA. But later on in my career I also see this specialisation that I’ve begun with NYPA as a way to open up even more possibilities within this sector.”

Learn more NIRAS Young Professional Academy

Learn more NIRAS and development consulting