Requirements for and fields of operation of experts in international cooperation
Experts are mainly deployed in building up institutional capacities, in studies and research, and in the field of learning and networking. Depending on the mandate, the assignments can be carried out by individuals, companies or joint ventures. Particularly high demands are made in terms of the professional and personal capabilities and aptitude of those performing the assignment.
Fields of operation
Experts are mainly deployed in the following areas:
- development of institutional and organisational capacities
- establishment of teaching programmes and realisation of training courses
- development of information systems and communications networks
- regional planning, specialised studies and applied research
In addition, the resources used to finance investments and activities must be held in trust, particularly where wide-ranging projects are involved. In general, the assessment of the final results and their impact through monitoring and evaluations has considerable importance.
Depending on the type and scope of the project, the SDC entrusts (one or more) individual experts with special tasks, or commissions companies - including joint ventures and consortia - to carry out the project. The final selection is made on the basis of technical requirements and personal qualifications. Depending on the mandate, one or more functions must be filled:
- Oversight of the whole project:
The contractor is responsible for managing the project. The contractor oversees the execution of the agreed activities, supports staff working on location technically and logistically, coordinates the activities of short-term experts and, if necessary, assumes responsibility for the fiduciary management of project resources.
- Short-term experts:
They are brought in to deal with project-specific issues and aspects. Short-term experts are recruited either from inside the company or as independent advisors on the local, regional or international market. They work as backups on selected jobs or are hired on a periodic basis. In these "backstopping" assignments, contractors advise and support an organisation with the aim of providing a critical outside perspective to help improve specific aspects of a project, such as establishing a documentation system, knowledge management or the exchange of experience
Particularly high standards are required of the professional and personal abilities and aptitudes of contractors. With regard to education, most contractors are expected to have completed studies at a (technical) college or university. Several years of practical experience in a relevant professional branch and sector of the economy are imperative and additional experience in related disciplines is desirable. Another precondition is several years' experience in functions which correspond to those of the assignment under consideration.
Besides specialised knowledge, contractors are expected to have skills in team management, coordination, planning, knowledge transfer and results assessment. Experience in international cooperation work is a distinct advantage, as is a knowledge of and familiarity with its structures, processes, methods and main concerns. Great value is also placed on a proven track record in such activities in developing countries.
Communication skills are also extremely important, both in relation to the SDC and particularly to local partners. Here too, close familiarity with the official language of the country is essential. The ability to compile reports that are well structured and comprehensible is also a necessity.
Depending on the demands of the individual project, a mandate may entail commitments involving shorter and longer stays or even several years' residence in the recipient country. Travelling and living conditions can by their nature be extremely taxing, so a good mental and physical condition is a must. In the event of longer stays and particularly in cases of residency, the family situation is of great importance because of the frequently unusual and unfamiliar living conditions.
Individual attitude is of crucial importance to the successful outcome of a mission. This includes receptiveness to foreign cultures, tolerance for unfamiliar behaviour as well as a marked readiness to compromise. Last but not least, the role age (or rather maturity) can play is a consideration particularly for the recipient of the mandate as this is considered to be as important as having the necessary technical skills and experience, and directly impacts on working together.