International NGO Safety Organisation



Function: Safety Advisor
Location: Nigeria
Nationality: American

Ben, part of our team in Nigeria, says to be an INSO Safety Advisor means being humble, not taking yourself too seriously, and having a good sense of humor.

How would you explain what you do as an INSO Safety Advisor to a stranger?

I think the easiest way to think about it is that we are a resource for humanitarians to help them better understand the wider context of where they work, particularly in terms of safety. Everyone I’ve met in this space (humanitarian workers) has so much to do, with very little time and resources, and have to deal with a ton of restrictions. I imagine this makes it tough to be able to spend time on anything directly outside your purview.

If you don’t have a co-pilot to help watch your back while you’re hyper focused on whatever crisis is your mandate, it can be dangerous. Having a dedicated organisation focused on the safety and security context around you can help make sense of the surrounding conflict.

How did you come to join INSO and what made you apply?

So, I first learned about INSO a few years before I ended up working for them. I was doing crisis management support for an international exchange organisation. While working with our safety and security team, I learnt about INSO from a former Safety Advisor who encouraged me to keep the organisation in mind if I wanted to pursue a career in safety and risk management.

After the pandemic, I started doing operations and logistics with a super small local development organisation in northern Haiti. I soon found myself in a role where I helped to act as a focal point on safety and security issues for the cluster in our area. This was a perfect set-up for moving into INSO.

I applied for INSO because I wanted to move away from programmes and into just enabling actors to do impactful work. I also wanted to explore and get back abroad.

Education-wise, I studied Biology. I think a lot of people are like, “What?!”, when I say that, but I really think that STEM degrees are super useful for teaching the scientific method and critical thinking techniques – particularly helpful in high energy situations.

What have you learnt so far as Safety Advisor in Nigeria?

This has been my first ‘actual’ humanitarian mission and I’ve learned a lot about the various actors involved and how they coordinate with one another. While it’s not entirely different from development work, there are of course some very important distinctions and things to consider that I was previously unaware of. That’s been a really cool learning experience.

Complete this sentence: When I’m not working, you’ll find me…

Near water. I grew up near rivers, bays, and less than 30 minutes from the ocean. I’ve since tried to live near the ocean whenever possible, though that is not always the case, as in Nigeria! But INSO’s R&R plan means I’ve had the opportunity to do a ton of exploring – often near the ocean.

Can you share your most memorable moment with INSO so far?

It’s honestly hard to pick out a single experience. The job moves so fast and there is constantly stuff to do – a bit of a whirlwind, and since we live and work in the same space, a lot of life tends to blend together. I will instead note that the most memorable moments have been the people I have met and are the unique and cool things they do, and have done.

What is your top tip for someone who wants to work as an INSO Safety Advisor?

Be humble, don’t take yourself too seriously, and have a good sense of humor. Embrace transparency and accountability, that you will constantly be learning something new every day, that you will be wrong, that you will make mistakes, and also that you will be doing a lot of good work.