She first joined the Agency on 1 April 2007 to work as an assistant and deployed only a year later to Afghanistan for four months to take up the duties of a Field Office Administrator.
One-step at a time, her career at the Agency developed from Crisis Response Operations (CRO) to the Directorate of Application Services (DAS) until she then moved to Mons, Belgium, where she first worked in education and training before joining the Agency's Directorate of Service Operations (DSO).
Throughout her time with NATO, Aoi demonstrated exemplary commitment and leadership when supporting deployed personnel. Aoi was able to connect with and motivate these staff members, who were instrumental to NATO's missions.
Aoi's professionalism enabled the NCI Agency's deployed staff members to focus on the job at hand.
For her contributions to the Alliance, the NATO Secretary General awarded Aoi with the Meritorious Service Medal, NATO's highest honour.
We took the opportunity to ask Aoi a few questions, prior to her taking up a new role as an Executive Officer at the NATO Communications and Information Organization (NCIO).
Can you briefly explain your former role at the NCI Agency?
My role consisted of identifying, preparing and safely deploying personnel into the operational theatres, while also providing reach-back support during their deployment. Being on deployment, especially for long periods, takes a toll both on the individuals and their families. You want people to feel safe, you want them to know they can trust that you are always there for them, that they can rely on you, either with personal or professional issues, at any given time.
What was the most rewarding part about your role supporting NATO's mission in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Supporting both operational theatres gave me a great sense of purpose, which translated into motivation, dedication and a drive to stay focussed. Knowing you are part of a team that is directly contributing to the mission's objectives, even if you are just one piece of a very large puzzle, is very rewarding. And you always have a great team of very skilled and motivated people with you in that endeavour. Every day, you see how the combined efforts are contributing to the greater picture.
What is the best thing about working at the NCI Agency?
I have had the privilege to work for the NCI Agency for 14 years and it has been a great journey. The NCI Agency is filled with amazing and motivated professionals, from who I could learn every single day.
Especially in supporting operations, the NCI Agency's leadership and staff always displayed great attention and teamwork. I am referring to the expertise demonstrated by the back-office team, from project managers delivering solutions to the operational theatres, to various contributions from the Agency's service lines. Moreover, I could always rely on the attentive coordination carried out by Human Resources, the continuous support and flexibility of the Alliance Operations Mission (AOM) Assistants, the Travel Office, and tailored solutions offered by Acquisition, Finance, Legal and Training teams. Of course, most importantly, I have always been particularly impressed by the commendable efforts carried out by the staff that deployed 'boots on the ground,' away from family and friends often, for long periods, repeatedly and regularly in harm's way.