PAs Interview You: Meeting Operations Officers

CityNet is pleased to introduce you to “PAs Interview You” series. This interview series spotlights our remarkable and dedicated international staff members contributing to city-to-city cooperation leading to sustainable development all over the world. In this series, two of our bright and curious program assistants (PAs), Ara Ko and Hyeongjun Han, become interviewers and interview the staff of CityNet about their work and life stories concluding with one special question. Through this series, we hope to reach out to our members and a wider global audience to share about CityNet’s talents and numerous global initiatives for creating a better world while inviting others to know more about CityNet’s work and join our Network of Cities.

This time, our interviewees are our adored and cherished CityNet operations officers. We will briefly introduce their roles and their experience of representing the Seoul Metropolitan Government in CityNet. Eunhee Lee serves as the Director of Operations, Hojeong Jang as the Senior Operations Officer, and Aruna Zhanibek as the Operations Officer. With their combined experiences at CityNet, they will lead us to a meaningful CityNet story.

Tasks of CityNet Operations Officers and their experience of representing the Seoul Metropolitan Government at CityNet

P.A: Hi! Welcome to PAs Interview You. Could you briefly describe your tasks at CityNet?

Eunhee Lee: I’m the Director of Operations and my primary responsibility is supervising the overall operations of CityNet. I supervise personnel, budget, the annual audit, and the coordination of cooperation on our projects that require the SMG’s involvement in terms of operations. Also, I coordinate membership-related tasks such as supporting the registration of new members and managing overdue payments from members.

Hojeong Jang: I’m the Senior Operations Officer at CityNet. I oversee operations, personnel, budgeting, and audits. My responsibilities include recruiting assistants, managing the budget, and collaborating with the program team to offer operational feedback.

Aruna: I’m Aruna from Kazakhstan, and I’m the first foreign employee as the operations officer at CityNet. My role primarily involves CityNet membership management and handling all necessary administrative tasks in the office. Also, I’m responsible for connecting employees dispatched from SMG and CityNet officers, facilitating coordination between them to ensure smooth communication and successful workflow.

P.A: Thank you for your answer. Eunhee Lee and Hojeong Jang are the representative of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Could you tell us the difference between working at CityNet and SMG?

Eunhee Lee: Working at CityNet is quite different from SMG. As CityNet is an international organization, I communicate in English with colleagues. Additionally, CityNet has a smaller workforce compared to SMG, collaborative efforts at work are more important. At CityNet, colleagues enjoy a much more friendly atmosphere, and have free, open discussions on various issues. Lastly, officers are more self-driven in leading tasks, and it is very inspiring to me.

Hojeong Jang: Firstly, the annual audit process here is very different from government organizations. The audit process here is very similar to that of private companies following double-entry bookkeeping, a practice not commonly used in public organizations. So, preparing for the annual audit was quite challenging for me. Also, I was concerned that there may be miscommunication arising from diverse national and cultural backgrounds, but I was relieved that communication works well with colleagues, and I now believe working with international staff makes the workplace more dynamic and interesting.

P.A: Thanks for your answer. Aruna, one of your responsibilities is being the bridge between CityNet officers and SMG representatives. Could you tell me how it feels to work between the two?

Aruna: Once a year, SMG dispatches new representatives to CityNet and I step in as the bridge, explaining how CityNet operates and guiding them along. Also, CityNet submits reports to the SMG regularly, and Korean official documents are very strict on using exact wording in reports. This means I must communicate with our officers more in detail to make sure we have got the meaning spot on. As a non-native Korean speaker, I do feel the occasional language barriers, but thanks to the help from SMG representatives, I was able to overcome the barriers so I deeply appreciate the support from them.

Balance game: Audit twice a year vs host ExCom half of a year

P.A: Thank you for sharing valuable stories. This will be our last question. Currently, CityNet hosts ExCom and audits once every year. As the operations officer, would you prefer to do an audit twice a year or host ExCom every half of a year?

For this question, all operations officers chose to audit twice a year. Ms. Aruna Zhanibek expressed her preference for routine work and less interactive communication, given her introverted personality. Ms. Eunhee Lee also replied that it is more manageable and requires less collaborative work, based on her experience at SMG. Ms. Hojeong Jang responded that she has more experience with it compared to hosting ExCom. As a result, it seems auditing twice a year is more familiar and manageable to the operations team.

The conversations with CityNet’s Operations Officers have illuminated their roles and the impact of CityNet’s work. These discussions have emphasized the significance of personnel, budget, accounting, and membership management of CityNet’s work. As CityNet persists in its mission of promoting sustainable urban development and global collaboration, let these conversations be essential to comprehend the critical factors that contribute to its success with the operation team’s work. Should you have any inquiries stemming from this interview, we eagerly await your questions and further engagement.

This article was written by Ara Ko, who can be reached at pg.assistant3@citynet-ap.org, and Hyeongjun Han, who can be reached at pg.assistant2@citynet-ap.org.

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2023.12.4

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