Tansagmaa Tsog, SDC Media and Communications Officer: Eight years enjoyed with SDC

Local news, 03.11.2023

Today, we are interviewing one of the SDC staff, who worked almost 8 years in Cooperation Office. She is in charge of the Communication, Culture and Humanitarian sectors of SDC in Mongolia. 

Tansagmaa Tsog, Media and Communication Officer at SDC in Mongolia
Tansagmaa Tsog, Media and Communication Officer at SDC in Mongolia ©SDC

Stefanie Burri: Thank you for your time. I am very excited to hear about your experience. Let us start with the first question: why did you join SDC eight years ago?

Tansagmaa Tsog: Thank you for the invitation. Looking back on my journey, I see that my time at SDC has been an incredible eight-year chapter, brimming with cherished memories and meaningful milestones since 2016. It all began back in 2000 at MSM Group, where I kicked off my career as a marketing officer, handling the Mercedes-Benz division and customer care services. After three years in the private sector, I found myself at World Vision Mongolia, dedicating over 12 years to my role as Communications and Public Engagement Manager. Later, my path led me to Save the Children Japan, where I played a crucial part in the Child Rights and Advocacy Group, contributing to amendments to children's rights and new child protection laws in Parliament. Realizing my contributions to child protection and rights, I set out in search of a new opportunity. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, being a leading donor with a stellar reputation in Mongolia, was a natural fit. My journey at SDC started with the Sustainable Artisanal Mining project as a Knowledge Hub and Communications Expert for four years before transitioning to my current role as Media and Communications Officer for SDC's core team. Embracing the challenge of delving into the mining sector, I found myself thriving in this new and exciting space. I am grateful for every moment I've spent being part of this remarkable organization.

Stefanie Burri: What you have already done professionally is impressive. Congratulations. Quite some time ago, besides communications, you also took on humanitarian aid and culture projects at SDC. These are quite different areas. Do you have any preference?

Tansagmaa Tsog: Every sector has its unique blend of approaches, challenges, and opportunities. Take the humanitarian sector, for example, where quick responses and efforts are crucial. On the other hand, the culture sector has a serene and prosperous vibe. In contrast, the media and communications sector constantly thrives on engaging and updated information. While I appreciate the urgency and dynamism of the humanitarian sector, my heart truly lies with the culture sector. To me, it signifies a nation’s growth and prosperity, which is incredibly inspiring. Over the years, my experiences in humanitarian aid have taught me the value of swift action and adaptability. Consider the brave rescue trainers in Mongolia; their courage is remarkable, but equipped with the right training, professional tools, and expertise, they can truly save lives. This is where Swiss approaches and know-how become invaluable. The Swiss people are known for their punctuality, attention to detail, and meticulous planning, attributes that enable us to anticipate and mitigate various disasters effectively. Above all, their genuine commitment always shines through in their work.

Stefanie Burri: Now that you’ve worked at SDC for eight years, is there anything you are especially proud of or what you would like to highlight?

Tansagmaa Tsog: Oh, yes. There are many things I could share. I take immense pride in witnessing the profound impact of our implemented projects and the remarkable transformations in people's lives. For instance, in the SAM artisanal mining project I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, we worked with the “ninjas”, so-called “wild” artisanal miners. When we went to the mining area, they initially attacked us, sometimes throwing stones at us. Some of them were quite aggressive. We could see they worked in completely dangerous places, digging many deep holes. The Mongolian government requested SDC’s support in this field because SDC was known for its rich experience and good results in this sector in Latin America. Because of SDC’s support, those “ninja” miners fully transformed. Now, they are all legally operating, educated, and capacitated, and some of them have even become human rights defenders. They started negotiating with the local government and signed contracts for artisanal mining. Three local artisanal mining NGOs reached international standards to sell their gold as fairmined gold in the international market. This certification ensures no child labour, toxic elements, or mercury is used.

Stefanie Burri: Amazing. And the market demand for this fairmined gold, at least in Switzerland, is definitively growing. Let’s change the topic. What does a typical day in our office look like? Perhaps we could look at the example of the day of the Mongolian Vegetable Project closing event, which just happened recently.

Tansagmaa Tsog: Every day is a unique journey, marked by its own share of challenges and opportunities. For me, each day starts with a cup of good coffee and invigorating energy. This year was full of many closing events for projects. Of course, my main role is always to engage with the local media to promote and celebrate the project’s achievements and results. I prepare a press release in advance, contact different TV, website, and print media representatives, and personally invite them to our events. During the events, I often have to translate from English to Mongolian when Swiss people are interviewed by the Mongolian press. These events are always quite hectic; there’s a lot to coordinate. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Swiss taxpayers and the Swiss government for their great efforts and contributions to Mongolian development. I would like to mention one of our flagship projects, the One-Stop-Shop Centers for public service delivery. The government has taken over this initiative and is successfully continuing it in all provinces. Another highlight is the Mongolian Vegetable Project. Remember, back in the early 2000s, we were all eating mainly Chinese vegetables. SDC provided its approaches and expertise in this field. Today, this situation has completely changed for the better. Mongolian vegetable production, for carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, is close to 100 percent self-sufficiency.

Stefanie Burri: Is there anything you would still like to fully execute by next summer, by the end of SDC’s stay in Mongolia?

Tansagmaa Tsog: My time with SDC has been a rich learning experience, delving into the intricacies of project management, monitoring, evaluation, finance, and more. To manage and lead a project professionally requires a lot of knowledge, communication, patience, and leadership skills. Sometimes, I faced many challenges during a project’s implementation because of misunderstandings regarding SDCs requirements for transparent processes, co-funding, or reporting. In such cases, you become a translator for SDC’s rules and regulations and partners’ viewpoints. It’s not always easy to do.

Stefanie, I am sincerely grateful for the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from you—lessons about providing support to your team, leading with compassion, and recognizing the immense value of the individuals involved. The main lesson is that money is nothing without people’s commitment; without people, no real change is possible. Therefore, people are always the most important for a successful development project with a sustainable impact. I have also learned that I can’t do anything alone; everything is a team result and will be a team effort.

Next year, in the summer of 2024, Switzerland and Mongolia will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations. Being responsible for communications here, many things can be done. I am very motivated to contribute to the different events happening next year with my knowledge and experience.

Stefanie Burri: Thank you very much for sharing your insight with us. I wish you success. It is a pleasure to work with you. It is great that you are part of our SDC team.