MEET OUR TEAM: "It is rewarding to facilitate processes where different counterparts find common ground".

With more than two decades of professional experience, Jani Kyla-Harakka, from Finland, is happy to serve as EUAM Iraq’s Senior Strategic Adviser on Security Sector Reform coordination. Based in Erbil, his role is to carry out advisory work for the benefit of local counterparts in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 



Briefly describe your career and tell us why you applied for a position with EUAM Iraq? 

I am a lieutenant colonel from the Finnish armed forces with 24 years of service prior to joining EUAM Iraq. My work history within the armed forces has included analysis, operations, planning and training functions – I usually call myself a jack of all trades, master of none. Most of the positions I have had, however, support my current work which requires analysis, assessments, planning and coordination. 

After four military deployments to Afghanistan, Chad, Central African Republic and Iraqas well as gaining some experience on mentoring and advising, and some experience on CIVMIL-cooperation, I studied for master’s degree in conflict research focusing on Security Sector Reform (SSR) to better understand the civilian field. Then I also applied for a position at EUAM Iraq. Military deployments usually last for only 6 or 12 months which is very short for mentoring or advising, as it usually takes months to even develop the mutual respect and trust that is needed.  A civilian mission, on the other hand, offers the possibility for continuity. 

Tell us about your daily work?  

At best, a working day includes advisory meetings with local counterparts in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq followed by meetings with other international organisations to coordinate the technical level assistance and messaging towards the local officials – supporting others through strategic advice and messaging, while their work supports ours at a technical level.  

But the daily work of a SSR Coordinator in our Erbil presence, can include anything and everything. There is very little space for work-related routines to settle in and the ad hoc situations occur often. Typically, the days are somewhat flexible, although the hours are long. 

How do you find working with colleagues from different backgrounds? 

I have always enjoyed working with people from various cultures anbackgrounds and see it as an opportunity to learn from them and their experience. This has been the case with EUAM Iraq as well. 

What has been the most rewarding or memorable experience for you in the Mission so far? 

The most rewarding moments so far have been facilitating meetings where different counterparts find common ground and interest in cooperation between each other. This applies both to the local officials and different international organisations. 

What do you enjoy the most with Iraqi people and culture? 

The tradition of hospitality is the first thing that comes to mind. People are friendly and make you feel welcome wherever you are visiting – from the Ministries in Erbil to different locations in the governorates.   

If you could live anywhere, where would you choose? 

honestly don’t know. All the places I’ve lived and worked in have had their good and bad sides. Any place that is close to the mountains I’d guess. And Iraqi Kurdistan has some stunning mountains. 


 What is your usual order at a restaurant? 

Shisha. I’m trying to go local over here. 

How do you relax? 

Usually by doing sports, working out at the gym and listening to soothing music such as orchestral arrangements of songs by heavy metal bands.  


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