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From the Kosovo construction site to ITER

-Iris Rona

"Building must be in my blood": Olli Kalha. (Click to view larger version...)
"Building must be in my blood": Olli Kalha.
After eight years spent in Kosovo helping to get the country back on its feet, Olli Kalha knows what it means to build from scratch.

Olli, who is from Finland and joined ITER as a Senior Administrator for Procurement on 1 March this year, arrived in Kosovo in the spring of 2000, right after the end of the war, to work for the European Agency for Reconstruction, an EU initiative. "The early days were really tough," Olli remembers, "with no water, no electricity, no structure and no procedures for anything, just the burning need to rebuild the country."

The country was under UN control and so an international team joined forces to get the infrastructures working again. Energy being in short supply, Olli, in charge of energy procurements, had to make sure he found the right companies to get some of the power plants, which were in less than pristine condition, up and running again.

Olli enjoys that operational part of his job and sees some analogies between his Kosovo experience and ITER. Both involve setting up procedures from scratch, working in a very international environment and building something big.

"Building must be in my blood," says Olli, "because I really enjoy working on a concrete project that will, in time, literally come out of the ground. Whereas in some sectors, procurement can be a bureaucratic job, here it is quite the opposite and that operational, hands-on side definitely adds an extra challenge and dimension."


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