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Meet Krishna- new to the job, but no rookie in the field

Mr. Krishna Putra Tanaja started his position as Deputy Executive Director of the AHA Centre in December 2021. Still fairly new to the job, but in no way is he a rookie in the field. Krishna started his career in humanitarian assistance and disaster management back in early 2005 for Save the Children. This was just after the December 2004 tsunami struck, heavily affecting the region and Krishna felt that he wanted to contribute and to be part of the response to this major disaster.


Starting a new job during the pandemic has been a challenge, he admits, and he welcomes going back to working in the office, meeting colleagues again and being able to talk to people face to face. “It really took time to get used to sitting in front of the computer monitor all day, and the frequency of meetings that increased”, he says. However, on a personal level, the pandemic has made work and life balance easier.  He has been able to endure his active lifestyle outside of the office, as well as spending more time with the family. Some of Krishna’s other passions include racket sports, diving and enjoying a good cup of coffee at a café, people watching.

Capacity development and behavioural change

LACER is a capacity development project and Krishna explains that capacity development is important to the organisation and with the processes, but even more important within the staff of the organisation. “To really increase our capacity we need to have the staff with us, in order to deliver to the people in need and to the promise of the donors”, Krishna says and continues to clarify that behavioural change is difficult and takes time. It needs to be incorporated in the induction training for new staff but also needs to be repeated and followed up. Some of the changes he would like to see are making the organisation less bureaucratic and more efficient. Too much bureaucracy can cause a delay in the delivery of humanitarian assistance and an example is that people may be hesitant to make their own decisions, waiting for answers from the senior management, even in cases where the decision can be made from the operational staff. “It is important to change this in order to deliver as fast as we can, rather than following the bureaucratic procedures”, Krishna says. “Of course”, he continues “it is a balance as procedures and guidelines are also important to become efficient but should not be set up to hinder our work”.

"Working at the AHA Centre feels like coming home"

Krishna wanted to work with the AHA Centre because of the people oriented line of work and to be able to do good, and to deliver to people in need. After some years in other fields, coming back to the humanitarian world felt like coming home. Working in humanitarian assistance, every day is different and with many new challenges and dramatic news that needs handling every day. “Being able to work in the field makes life more interesting compared to a typical desk job”, he explains.

Creating a career path to retain staff over time 

Although Krishna is quite new to the job, he has been able to identify a process he would like to develop that would be of high organisational value. His suggestion is to create a career path within the organisation. This would decrease the gap between the middle management and the top management and also make the AHA Centre an attractive employer, as well as retaining staff over time. This is something that Krishna believes would have a strong value to the organisation, to be able to recruit within AHA Centre rather than externally. This would be a means to decrease the high staff turnover and increase the efficiency of the budget, not having to train new people which is time consuming. Having a career path would also make the AHA Centre a more competitive player in the field as a more attractive employer. “The AHA Centre is a really good place to learn to coordinate work in humanitarian assistance”, Krishna says, “but without a clear career path we lose people over time, instead making the Centre a stepping stone to other organisations”.

LACER activities helping capacity development

Within the framework for the LACER project, there is an upcoming activity addressing this issue, focusing on developing capacity to bridge the gap between the middle management and top management. Krishna acknowledges that LACER has helped a lot with capacity development of the organisation, through for instance the work with back office and strategic planning.

Another upcoming activity is the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali in May, where LACER will have a side event together with ERCC. Krishna, who is born and raised in Bali, will attend the platform and beyond taking part of the important work based discussions, he looks forward to spend some time underneath the surface, diving in the ocean.

Written by: Johanna Rixer, LACER project