‘I would have spent less time attending coordination meetings’

We continue our Exit Interview series asking Myanmar aid workers to reflect on what they might have done differently in their jobs. PK Forum: Is there anything you might have done differently in your job if you had your time over?

Most people from the development/aid sector might not be happy to hear this but there is one thing I would have done differently. With the rapid pace of changes in Myanmar during the past couple of years, I would have spent less time attending every coordination meeting in the sector I worked in.

The concept of “coordination” and the word “synergy” have been overused but never fully applied in practice because every department or agency has a different insight, mandate, strategy, and model.

At the end of the day, it takes precious time away from the actual work you are supposed to be doing but you still attend them in case there might be something you absolutely must know or represent at this meeting.

The counterparts from the government ministries, NGOs, and CSOs were also facing similar problems. Nobody knew where to draw the line because everything seemed important. Hopefully, the scene will not be as hectic as before.

PK Forum: What key advice would you give to the person who is replacing you in your job?

My position was split into two and one of them came in after I have already left.

I volunteered to go back for a few rounds of handover with both of them, and remained available online for whatever follow up questions they may have because I wanted the transition to go as smoothly as possible.

My personal advice to them was to be pleasant but factual and to stand strong. This helps you navigate through internal office politics to official negotiations.

As a national, we also have the obligation to present and convey factual information without any bias because international personnel do not have any other way to understand the local situation.