Working for International Organizations, with Dr. Knut Kirste, Policy Advisor at NATO

On October 14th, 2016 Webster University Vienna, under the organization of the Career Development Center and with support from the International Relations Department, hosted a career lunch with Dr. Knut Kirste, Policy Adviser at NATO, on working for international organizations, with a particular focus on NATO, UN and the OSCE.

Subsequent to welcoming words by Dr. Franco Algieri, Head of the International Relations Department, and Mag. Alexandra Deubner, Senior Career Development Officer, Dr. Kirste provided a comprehensive, well-structured and honest presentation, approaching various issues deemed important for developing a career in international relations. The first part of his talk focused on the evolution of his career, starting from the early times and up until his current role. He continued by giving concrete examples of what his work entails, as well as the content of a daily schedule. The last part centered on career advice and hiring processes. The audience, composed mainly of international relations students, showed great interest in the topic and followed-up with a series of questions.
In his Policy Adviser role since November 2015, Dr. Kirste is part of a core policy team, the Policy Planning Unit, which provides the Secretary-General (SG) of NATO with direct and personal advice. He pointed out that his role revolves around two main issues: bringing a different, change-oriented perspective in support of the policy decisions that the SG should take, as well as offer support to the SG in his preparation on a daily basis. As he indicated, a Job in international organizations comes both with advantages and disadvantages, but what he particularly warned against was being carried away by the illusion of power. In the context of the hiring processes, some of the elements that he marked as important for a career in international organizations were a curious mind, the ability to see the bigger picture, communication skills and the ability to translate ideas into words, as well as an increasing tendency towards specialization, as compared to a generalist background.

Dr. Knut Kirste holds a PhD degree in Political Science from University Trier and has been working for 20 years in international organizations, out of which more than half have been in NATO, in the policy and public diplomacy areas. He also held positions in the field, specifically with the UN in Afghanistan and with the OSCE in Kosovo.