MEET OUR TEAM: “learning about Iraq and the region, with regards to culture, history, politics, and language”

Heine ten Hoeve is a seconded international expert from the Netherlands and joined EUAM Iraq as Senior Strategic Adviser on Institutional Reform.

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

For most of my career I have been working in (international) security. Before joining the Mission, I worked with the Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands. In a ministry-wide program on information management and transparency I was responsible for writing the program- and implementation plans. The experience that inspired me to apply was my time in Vienna, Austria, as member of the delegation of the Netherlands to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE). This brought me a lot in terms of international experience. At the same time, I became interested in working in an actual security sector mission, instead of keeping track of them from the diplomatic side. My choice for EUAM Iraq was driven by the fact that I enjoyed the courses on the Middle East back when I studied History and following politics and developments in the region ever since.

Tell us about your daily work?

A major part of the work is going out to visit our Iraqi counterparts at for example the Ministry of Interior and the National Security Advisory. We discuss topics like security sector strategy development and implementation, and preparations for jointly organized workshops, conferences, and other events. We also meet regularly with our international partners, including the NATO Mission Iraq, to synchronize our activities. Back in the office, my usual tasks are preparing material for our activities, writing reports on our visits, and planning for future activities together with the EUAM colleagues.

How do you find working with colleagues from many different backgrounds?

I have always been drawn to this. Through working with different backgrounds, you learn a lot about how people approach things in various cultures. I find it enriching to challenge my own norms based on this. This applies both to working with the people of Iraq and the colleagues from various European countries.

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

For me this is that I am learning a lot about Iraq and the region, with regards to culture, history, politics, and language. The opportunity to hear about this firsthand from our counterparts and our local staff is something I really enjoy.

If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?

I would go for Southern Germany, for multiple reasons: the proximity of ski resorts, nice weather during summertime, the central location in Europe and high quality of living. It would also be a helpful experience for improving my German language skills, which have become somewhat rusty after I returned from Austria.

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you? 

Some might know, but I am a huge car enthusiast. Since I was a kid, I have been closely following the release of new cars. These days, I enjoy doing basic maintenance on my own car (Toyota GT86) together with my brother. I once took my car out on a racetrack and would love to do this again in the future.

What is your usual order at a restaurant?  

One of my favorite dishes is Spaghetti Carbonara. Back at home I also enjoy ordering a so called ‘kapsalon’ every now and then: a Dutch fusion dish that consists of layers of French fries, doner kebab, salad, cheese, and a lot of garlic sauce. It goes without saying that this needs to be compensated for by physical exercise.

How do you relax? 

Various types of sports help me to relax. Back home I am in a soccer team (mainly defender), and I like to play with them whenever I am on leave from the mission. Aside from that I like to swim, do strength training, yoga, swimming, and I play tennis. In the mission I picked up ultimate frisbee, which is also a lot of fun. 

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