Khostsetseg Nyamaa, Deputy Head of Swiss Cooperation in Mongolia: I am proud to work for SDC

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Local news, 31.01.2024

Today, we are interviewing one of the SDC Management team, She is Mrs. Khostsetseg Nyamaa, Deputy Head of Cooperation and Head of Finance, Personnel and Administration in Mongolia. 

Mrs. Khostsetseg Nyamaa, Deputy Head of Cooperation and Head of Finance, Personnel and Administration
Mrs. Khostsetseg Nyamaa, Deputy Head of Cooperation and Head of Finance, Personnel and Administration ©SDC

Stefanie: In this newsletter, I would like to introduce you to Ms. Khostsetseg Nyamaa, my Deputy Head. In addition to the role of Deputy Head of Cooperation, Khosoo, as we address her here in the office, is the Head of Finance, Personnel and Administration. Dear Khosoo, I would first like to ask you why you applied to SDC. What was your motivation?

Khosoo: That was back in September 2006. At that time, I was on maternity leave while working for World Vision Mongolia as a Finance Manager. When I saw the six-month Interim Finance Officer position advertised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, I did some research online. I found that it was a Swiss government organization with a consular section and the Cooperation Office working together. I was curious about working for a foreign government organization and gaining cross-cultural competency, even for a short-term position. To my good fortune, I was hired for the interim position and  offered a permanent job after six months.

Joining SDC was one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made. It has provided me with a great opportunity to experience the positive and inclusive workplace culture of SDC, which promotes transparent and open communication, creates a sense of belonging for employees, makes them feel valued and respected, fosters effective leadership that empowers employees, and creates a supportive and engaging team dynamic. Other key factors, such as opportunities for professional growth, competitive compensation, recognition of staff contributions, work-life balance, excellent team collaboration and productivity, and the possibility of experience working on different projects, also contributed to my decision to continue with SDC.

Stefanie: Oh, I'm so happy to hear this was your best decision ever. Yes, I also see SDC as an institution where values ​​such as a good work atmosphere, ongoing learning as key for all staff, and a good work-life balance are important. You have now been part of the SDC team for around 15 years. What do you like best about your daily work?

Khosoo: As the Head of Finance, Personnel and Administration, I often appreciate tasks that allow me to analyze and optimize financial performance, implement efficient financial systems, and provide valuable insights for the overall success of the organization. In particular, directly engaging with partners on a project’s various financial and administrative aspects, witnessing positive changes and improvements resulting from their efforts, and having successful collaboration through sound financial practices make me feel joy. In addition, I’m grateful for having prospects to develop my ability to work seamlessly in cross-cultural teams, build a strong international professional network, and stay connected with industry trends and regional insights.

Stefanie: As a development cooperation organization with projects all over Mongolia, from time to time, we also have the task of visiting projects financed by Swiss tax money. We like to witness the activities and results reached by our partner organizations and the target population. What do these project visits mean to you? Are these visits also eye-opening experiences?

Khosoo: Yes, indeed. For me, the project field visits are definitely eye-opening experiences. The project visits help to truly understand the local context, the complexity of project implementation, and the obstacles that may challenge the implementation process. For people with a professional financial background, while sitting in the office, sometimes we struggle to justify reasons for delays, discrepancies between the budget and actual costs, and situations that are not fully in compliance with strategies and regulations.

Therefore, I think the field visits are particularly essential to seeing how resources are utilized, witnessing the impact of certain decisions on the ground, physically experiencing the local context that challenges the norms and rules, and observing the tangible outcomes of financial means and operational activities. All these provide valuable insights. Such experience deepens understanding of the project’s financial implications and fosters a stronger connection between financing and operations.

Stefanie: I know the work is very important to you. I see that you have a lot of energy and commitment and are highly motivated to do the work. But I also know you have another life outside of work: you are married and have children. Can I ask you to share your secret for balancing the different roles?

Khosoo: For me, intentional planning and prioritizing tasks are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I write down a to-do list based on urgency and importance, setting notifications for important milestones and deadlines and focusing on high-priority tasks. I clearly define and adhere to my work hours, with short breaks in between to refresh my mind, stretch, or engage in a quick activity to recharge. I also try to allocate specific times for personal activities, hobbies, or family time. For instance, I do yoga three times a week and have quality time with my family on weekends.

Stefanie: Oh, what you are sharing with us is really amazing. I will definitely try out some of your “recipes” for myself to improve my work-life balance. Unfortunately, the SDC office and the consulate will be closed in the middle of this year. Do you already know what you want to do afterward? Do you already have plans?

Khosoo: I like to travel. My next fulfilling and exciting role would be working on international assignments to oversee financial operations and projects in various locations, which would involve frequent travel. After phasing out, I plan to continue my learning path to acquire a diverse set of specialized skills and stay up to date with developments in finance, which will empower me to navigate the complexities of an international career successfully. 

Stefanie: I am sure you have much more to share with us. But unfortunately, we are already coming to the end of this interview. Thank you for the insights you’ve shared with us today. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Khosoo: First of all, I would like to thank the entire SDC team and its stakeholders for the excellent collaboration and great achievements we have accomplished together over these past years. And I want to wish all my colleagues a prosperous year full of joy, happiness, health, and great results. 

The year 2024 will be a busy but exciting year for us. We will celebrate the 60th year of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Mongolia, conclude bilateral cooperation in a sustainable and responsible way, and successfully transfer the ongoing regional programs and other initiatives to SDC Headquarters. We will continue fostering cultural exchange and promoting sustainable development initiatives to make a positive impact on a broader scale.