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May 19 2023

Meet Peter van der Pouw, Senior Administrative Assistant at the NCI Agency

Peter van der Pouw's outstanding work as a Project Manager for the facility infrastructure in The Hague, and his years of dedication to service improvements at the NCI Agency have led him to be awarded the NATO Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).

In 1989, Van der Pouw began working at the SHAPE Technical Centre, the NCI Agency's "pre-predecessor". He held a variety of positions, from Security Guard, Storekeeper and Supply Clerk, until he became the Privileges and Immunities Specialist after the Technical Centre transitioned into the NC3A, the NCI Agency's most recent predecessor. Over the next 17 years, Van der Pouw travelled around the world working in different Agency locations, such as the ISAF Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, and worked with other international organizations, like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. He finally settled in The Hague in 2015 as a Senior Administrative Assistant, responsible for the Agency's new parking building and landscaping projects.

Meet Peter van der Pouw, Senior Administrative Assistant at the NCI Agency

We talked to Van der Pouw to learn more about the Agency's infrastructure work, the skills he uses for his role and how he approaches stressful situations.

As the Project Manager for the ongoing landscaping work in The Hague, how does it feel to see the process come to fruition?

The advantage of working on an infrastructure project is that you can witness the progress of it over time. It is remarkable to see the contractors you work with dig holes, move soil around, pull cables, bring in materials and then, suddenly, you start seeing the fruits of their labour. Everything comes together and turns into a beautiful landscape that blends in with the scenery in which our Agency is located. They have done a great job integrating the renovated building with the landscaping on our compound, and I am grateful I was able to be a part of that process.

How does the NCI Agency landscaping work contribute to a greener working environment?

The green layout of the site design was inspired by the landscape of the 'Waalsdorpervlakte', an area in The Hague with sand dunes and vegetation, that also has a historical meaning. We implemented this at the renewed NCI Agency compound, and as a result, the site is in harmony with its surroundings. For instance, the facility has a green presentation that blends in with the environment and provides opportunities for Agency staff to walk around and enjoy nature. The new parking building has also been integrated into the landscape as much as possible, with organic and natural elements used in its design. The office views allow staff to see that they are surrounded by nature and open air spaces from every direction. Netherlands, our Host Nation, is also contributing to make the scenery greener and is compensating the amount of new asphalt that will be put in on our compound by planting more trees in the area around the Agency. It is fulfilling to be a part of a project that considers the natural elements of its surroundings to make a space that ultimately makes staff feel more comfortable and at ease.

What skills did you make use of when engaging with key stakeholders during this project?

In my opinion, good communication is one of the most important skills when engaging with stakeholders. Showing transparency to our partners is key to building a relationship based on trust and contributes to the feeling that we are all working together to achieve a common goal. Good communication can really make a difference in our work, as it is important to provide clear guidelines and requirements to successfully achieve our goals. We must fully understand and communicate what we are looking for, but we must also be open to any ideas or suggestions our stakeholders might have so our projects can thrive.

During difficult times, how do you manage to keep a positive attitude and not give up?

Dealing with setbacks and delays is an inherent part of infrastructure work and it can be frustrating. However, I find nothing is more fulfilling than finding solutions for problems. I really enjoy the challenge of having to face unexpected difficulties because it becomes a drive for me to push myself harder and come up with new ideas. Trying to find solutions keeps me alive and kicking, and makes every day look slightly different at work. Besides that, a pat on your shoulder from your manager every now and then never fails to help too!

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