Meet the Heads of Administration - Johan Snijckers
Johan Snijckers - EU Delegation to Myanmar
What is your background and what did you do before becoming a Head of Administration?
I worked at DG INTPA in Finance & Contracts at Headquarters and in the Delegation to the Philippines. My first posting as Head of Administration was at the Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei and ASEAN and now I have been Head of Administration to Myanmar since 2016. In between I worked 2 years at the Inspection and ex-post Division in Headquarters.
In a nutshell, how would you describe the role of Head of Administration in an EU Delegation?
In a nutshell, the Head of Administration has to make sure that everything is in place so that the other colleagues can do their job.
That includes infrastructure (accommodation for expat staff, offices), security, office cars, accounting (payments of all administrative costs of the Delegation and work related expenses of the staff, management of the Delegation’s local bank accounts), tendering of contracts for the above mentioned activities and management of the contracts, human resources of the local agents (recruitment, evaluation, promotion, medical reimbursements), training coordinator, protocol (obtaining visas, diplomatic ID, driver’s licences for all expatriate staff and their family members, import/export authorisations, tax exemptions, consular correspondent, etc) and IT. And when things go wrong in the country, you have to be efficient in crisis management.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
The job is so diverse, you never get bored one single moment. And it is very satisfactory to see concrete results of your work.
Why should people apply to work for the EU and in particular for the job of Head of Administration in an EU Delegation?
If you are a person who likes diversity, who believes in the European project and who wants to make a difference, working for the EU is for you!
The job of Head of Administration is without any doubt the most interesting (and challenging) job available for AST officials or Contract Agents. Apart from the Head of Delegation, the Head of Administration has the most responsibilities in a Delegation and you really make a difference in the daily life of your colleagues. The diversity of tasks you are responsible for keep you alert and you learn every day – not only procedures and technical knowledge but also in social skills and about the culture of the country you are posted in.
To feel good as Head of Administration, you must be willing to work a lot and take on responsibilities, have excellent people skills, be a problem solver, be stress resistant and be a positive person.
How do you handle /how do you see the frequent rotation and opportunities for professional growth in EU Delegations / in the EEAS?
Even if you apply for the same job, every country you are posted in brings its own specificities and uniqueness into your daily work. You adapt, learn and grow as a professional and as a person. The EEAS allows you to shorten your posting if the country is not your cup of tea, or extend if you really like it. Through your daily interaction with your colleagues of other sections, you also learn about their job and the EEAS allows you to apply for other types of posts if that is what you want.
What are the advantages of working in a diverse environment like the one of EU Delegations?
We were all raised within our own community with its culture, values and habits. Working in an EU Delegation exposes you to a multitude of cultures, habits and values. Not only from the country you are posted in, but also from your other expatriate colleagues (and friends) who come from all over Europe (the world). These exposures enrich your life, broaden your mind and make you a better person.
What do you find difficult in turn?
Living far away from friends and family is sometime difficult, but the EEAS foresees in annual home leave and rest leaves (in hardship countries) so that you can go back regularly to Europe.
What is it like to work and live in EU Delegations?
First of all, it is important to prepare yourself before you apply for a certain country. Doing a bit of research on life in a country can save you from bad surprises or disappointments. And still then, you will be in for plenty of surprises, which makes it so interesting to work and live in a different country. And while you immerse yourself as much as you want in your new country, inside the Delegation, you will be in an environment that is familiar, a little piece of Europe.
In a Delegation you will be part of a small community with its advantages and disadvantages. It is therefore important to have a positive mindset and maintain good relationships with your colleagues. Overall, I’ve only had good experiences, learned so much, did things I never thought I would be able to do and made friends for life. Of course there are difficult moments, situations or colleagues but that you have everywhere and the advantages of being able to live and work abroad largely compensate for the less pleasant instances you may experience.