Meet a colleague in logistics at MSF: Elvina
Your experience and expertise in managing multidisciplinary technical teams and your ability to understand the needs of the medical teams will add great value to the quality of our work.
- Worked as a corporate robotics engineer and technical project manager for 5 years.
- Joined MSF in 2012 and immediately left for her first mission as a Hospital Facility Manager in Tabarre, Haiti. After this mission she continued to support field teams in Hospital Facility Management in missions such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Pakistan, Philippines, Guinea, etc
- She moved on to work at HQ level as Technical Team Leader, and Technical Referent for Hospital Facility Management and member of the Logistics Department Management Team.
Working at MSF
Often people have ideas about working with MSF that don’t match the reality. While it is true that this job requires dedication and can be very challenging at times, MSF provides all the necessary support in order for you to do your job, and you’ll see that you get more back than what you give.
ADVICE FOR FUTURE COLLEAGUES?
Running a hospital in the countries in which we work is a big challenge. Your experience and expertise in managing multidisciplinary technical teams and your ability to understand the needs of the medical teams will be a great added value! A good analytical spirit will allow you to face the ongoing challenges as well as being able to step back and plan long term.
My biggest advice for a future colleague would be to always keep an open mind and to try not to come with any fixed expectations. You will have to apply your experience and expertise in a completely different context than what you are used to, at a faster pace and with people from another culture. While this creates challenges in its own, it also makes the job extremely enriching.
When making decisions, it is also important to keep the entire scope and duration of the project in mind: you will only ‘succeed in this project for the duration of your mission. There are things that you won’t be able to complete during your mission, but you have to understand that if you have paved the way for the people who continue the project after you, this is already a big achievement!
The most important traits you need are curiosity and empathy to understand who you are working with before you start developing things. Take your time to take a step back and take that helicopter view. At MSF, every context is different and you’ll have to adapt your solutions to each context.
CHALLENGES IN THE FIELD?
You can reach tangible results quicker than in a corporate setting. However, this also creates a challenge as you’ll have to be able to keep up with the tempo, while simultaneously planning ahead so you don’t get lost in the daily demands. Also, it often takes much longer for supplies to arrive, so again, a good planning is key!
You have to deal with the reality of the field conditions by listening to your team of local colleagues because they know the history of the project. You can enable them to come up with out-of-the-box solutions, and develop their skills.
Of course, working in difficult contexts requires following a lot of security rules.. In the field you represent MSF 24/7, so you have to deal with these rules that are there for your own well-being and for the sake of the organization. Taking time to understand the mechanism around the presence of MSF in conflict zones and the application of the MSF values.
To leave in the field with MSF requires bringing your professional skills and having a curious and somewhat adventurous soul. You must be ready to adapt to different contexts and cultures and to apply your skills to new settings. It is not always an easy job, but if you come in with the right mindset it will be an extremely interesting and rewarding experience. Yes, you will have to give a lot of yourself, but you will get back so much more. And ultimately… it’s going to change your life!’