International NGO Safety Organisation



Function: Regional Director – Middle East and Central Asia (MECA)
Location: Headquarters, the Netherlands
Nationality: American

Scott, INSO’s Regional Director – Middle East and Central Asia (MECA), began working at INSO when it was just four people. Today, he still finds his work inspiring and challenging.

How did you start working at INSO?

I was working in Afghanistan when I first heard of INSO, for an anti-corruption advocacy NGO and then a consulting organisation. I started getting INSO’s reports, which were always useful. It was really the first job where I felt like, “Wow, this is really cool.”

After a while I moved on to other work, in Libya and then in Syria, but once INSO expanded there and I saw all the progress that the organisation had made I was like, “Hey, sign me back up.” I became Country Director for Syria, before moving to The Hague in 2022 to take up the Regional Director for MECA position. 

What makes working at INSO different from working in the other organisations that you’ve worked at?

It’s a 21st-century organisation. A lot of organisations are struggling with hundred-year-old legacies. But INSO was born in the modern world.

Compared to other places I’ve worked, there’s just been a lot less nonsense. And because it’s new, were still able to shape the culture.

There’s just so much that we’ve been able to do to be the kind of organisation I would like to work for, which is, at the end of the day, at least as important as the work that we do.

What’s your favourite thing about working at INSO?

The environment. I get to do really cool things with really cool people. I’m surrounded by people that are asking interesting questions and who are deeply engaged with their subject matter. I get really excited about it.

Tell us about a time when you felt like you’ve had an impact whilst working INSO.

I think when one of our partner organisations have had an incident, and you’re the person that they trust to go to. I can share a whole range of examples but overall I think when someone is in crisis or they need a piece of information and they choose to come to INSO, that’s really powerful.

When I was Country Director in Iraq, organisations would come to me if they were receiving threats or facing challenges, and we would help our partner to navigate them. We helped them determine if the threats were serious or routine, and advised on how to handle them.

I think what we did had a lot of impact because the fear and the caution, they’re completely understandable. People just need advice and information.

What motivates you at work?

It really is promoting new talent and building the organisation. I want to see INSO achieve its full potential.

Ever since I’ve started managing people, I’ve always hired people who are so much better and so much smarter than me. And I want to have a place for these people.

I feel like if I was back to graduate school, this was the job that I always wanted to do. I didn’t know what INSO was and it didn’t exist yet. Now I’ve found INSO, but even better, now I’m in a position where I can help people realise their ambitions and that’s a good thing, because they’re all doing it better than me.

And what would you say to somebody who’s considering applying for a role at INSO?

Working at INSO can be inspiring and challenge you in a positive way. INSO is a place for people with diverse backgrounds. There’s a role for people with a security background, and there is a role for politics nerds that like to study languages, like me. And this also means that you’ve got a wide variety of interesting colleagues to learn from and we help each other develop.

In a lot of ways, INSO is at the cutting edge. And as such a young organisation there really is the chance to shape the organisation and actually be able to make the slow, incremental differences that will be necessary to create change in the sector more broadly.