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06 28 2022

Meet Yves Moons, a Senior Technician at the NCI Agency

As the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) celebrates its 10-year anniversary, one of our staff members is celebrating three times over. For Senior Technician Yves Moons, 1 July 2022 is an anniversary for two other monumental events in his career.

Moons has been with the Agency from the very beginning. As a First Sergeant in the Belgian military, he began working at the NATO Communication and Information Systems Agency (NACISA) on 1 July 1995. He later became a NATO civilian employee on 1 July 1998. NACISA was one of several entities that eventually were merged into the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency).

Reflecting on his start at NATO and his first official photo for NACISA, Moons said, "it's not only the agencies that have transformed but people as well." For Moons, NATO and the Agency are associated with some of his best memories and transformative moments.

In celebration of the Agency's anniversary, as well as his NATO anniversaries, we spoke with Moons to learn more about his incredible career, and the ways in which both he and the Agency have changed over the years.

What is your role and how long have you been at the Agency?

My current role is Senior IT Technician, but my first role was serving as a Privileges and Immunities Officer for the Belgian military. I provided administrative support to all military staff. This ranged from providing support to personnel on their contracts, to processing requests for license plates and ration cards. I also managed the cafeteria and its accounting. I was also IT literate, so when my military tour ended, I joined NC3A as an IT technician.

Even though I've held many roles over the years, I'm doing the same thing now as I was back in 1998. My career has gone through a full cycle and I'm back in my starting position which is incredible.

What are your most memorable moments with the Agency?

One of my first big projects was supporting a NATO-wide project named DHS, or Document Handling System. I led a team of five contractors to implement this system. We had to complete site surveys and conduct implementations and migrations in different NATO countries including Italy, Turkey, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom. I learned a lot about people and project management from this experience thanks to my manager and mentor, and in the end good friend, Steven Janis. This job is so memorable for me because although I started in 1995, it was during this period I visited several NATO commands and saw first-hand what NATO stands for.

Another one of the more memorable periods in the Agency was the lead up to our move to the current NATO Headquarters (NHQ) in 2018. I had already been on site since 2015, when construction was still ongoing. This was a really busy time and I was either on-call or physically here all the time. A lot of days I walked more than 10 km from running in and out of the site!

So even with this location, I was here from the beginning, which I feel is a nice milestone. We had people coming in from everywhere to support us in setting up the HQ. People from Mons, The Hague, from various NATO locations supporting us full time with the programme to make things happen. Although the work and time put into this HQ was hard, it was still a very unique experience and one I'm proud to have been part of.

What do you enjoy most about working at the Agency?

The international environment and the different cultures. Also, in all my roles I've been able to support people. I'm always in a function where I can help people, be it with big projects, with briefings, trainings and anything IT. I've gone from supporting a few hundred people to now close to 4,000 people in under 20 years. This aspect of people networking is my strong point! During my time here, I've gotten to know everyone and work alongside a variety of different people and appreciate them and their contributions, be it large or small.

What has been your biggest contribution to NATO?

As a civilian, I did three tours in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). I spent around nine months there in two years. The first time, I was in Kandahar in 2011 for four months, and then in that same year during the Christmas period, I spent three months in Kabul. The third time was the year after in 2012, in which I was part of a small team that created and organized the first Agency-led unit called Sector ISAF, also during the Christmas period.

There is one project I'm especially proud of and I worked on it during my time in ISAF. It was called the post attack recovery page. If there was an attack, the area subordinate commands would go to the post attack recovery page and update the status of those in their command.

This was a really important tool and I became involved in the project because of the years of experience I had gathered in the Agency. Even though this was outside of my role as a Field Office Administrator, I was asked to take part in the project and was able to arrange the page as needed. It's a really small thing, but I'm proud I was able to contribute in this way.

How have things changed throughout the years?

You see the difference between when our Agency started to now, when we are close to 4,000 people. In the old days when I started, it was a few hundred people. The scaling of IT equipment is immense now and you need really big server rooms. Our server rooms now are three times bigger than what it was in the past and we have two like that!

In the old days, there were a lot of things you could do yourself. I was a senior technician and a systems administrator and a network administrator. The technology we use has also become more complex, which means at some point you have to choose a direction. You have people focusing now on communications tools and cyber, etc. because it's too much to do all this stuff as one person. Now, you really have to have a specialty.

Meet Yves Moons, a Senior Technician at the NCI Agency