Areas of work
The next intake of the Young Professionals Programme will focus on the eight areas of work listed below. You can find more information about each area by clicking on the relevant section.
Innovation is key to NATO and essential to understand how we anticipate and address current and future challenges, while making the best use of the opportunities that present themselves.
Work in this area focuses on research opportunities for innovation in the context of emerging technologies to further develop core and support functions across the NATO enterprise. Research activities are conducted in close cooperation with industry, academia, think tanks, and multinational bodies in the science and technology domain. The results contribute to the development and implementation of NATO’s innovation agenda.
Activities include facilitating discussion, development and implementation of innovative initiatives, for example, in the form of policies, processes or technologies. In addition, professionals working in this area contribute to the development and application of assessment tools and techniques, and conduct lessons-learned exercises and project close-out to promote incremental improvement of future innovation-driven projects.
This area also provides opportunities to support NATO’s efforts in systematically introducing innovation in capability-development processes and activities. Another important focus of work is to contribute to public information efforts on innovation activities, for example, through articles, briefings and presentations.
International Political Affairs is at the heart of the highest level discussions and decision-making at NATO. This involves enabling Member States to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues, build trust and prevent conflict.
Professionals in this area help formulate political strategies and recommendations by suggesting policy directives and plans of action for immediate and longer term solutions to strategic issues. This ensures NATO is able to integrate, optimise, and enable the use of national, multinational, and collective capabilities upon their delivery and availability. It is important to develop a network of contacts across and outside NATO, with capitals and subject-matter experts in academic institutions, as this allows proper monitoring of political affairs and drafting of inputs for policy development.
Work in this area contributes to the development and implementation of NATO’s partnership policies and frameworks. It also includes the development and implementation of the defence policy and planning dimension of Alliance activities to ensure the coherence of the Allies’ overall deterrence and defence posture at the strategic political-military level. Monitoring conventional arms control developments and policies to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is also an important activity.
Professionals will be required to contribute to the preparation of briefing notes, memoranda, checklists, answers to the press, speaking notes, or protocol and liaison services in support of committees, and the organisation of ministerial and other high-level meetings.
Skills and knowledge from the broad area of business administration are needed to ensure the high-performing corporate functions that enable NATO to deliver on its mission.
Professionals in this area serve as internal consultants and business analysts contributing to strategy, operations, finance, technology, and business process improvements in a variety of NATO’s core and support functions. In addition, they contribute to developing resource assessments, analyses and studies in the scope of the NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP) to support decision-making concerning development of military capabilities. Activities also comprise supporting the multidisciplinary management of the military capability-delivery governance model, including funding eligibility, affordability and policy compliance.
This area also includes activities, such as budget planning and analysis, programme and project management, and supporting initiatives focusing on compliance, risk, regulation, forensics, and implementation of internal control frameworks and systems.
Cyber threats to the security of the Alliance are becoming more frequent, complex, destructive and coercive. NATO is continuously adapting to the evolving threat landscape.
To ensure readiness and prompt response, work in this area contributes to the entire lifecycle of cyber defence capabilities development from the definition of requirements through planning and delivery to decommissioning. It is also important to stay abreast and up-to-date on the current cyber threats from internal and publicly available external sources and assess risk to NATO and its Member States.
Activities in this area include the analysis of structured and unstructured data, creation of operational and strategic reports for a wide audience, and contribution to information and knowledge management in the broad topic of cyber defence. The application of data and insights from operational incidents is also promoted to strengthen existing and develop new cyber defence capabilities, policies, products and processes.
Work in Cyber Defence also supports the secure conduct of the Alliance's operations and business through the provision of scientific, technical, acquisition, operations, maintenance, and/or sustainment support in the cyber domain. It also includes incident management and associated coordination and support activities.
Legal Affairs provides the crucial legal advice NATO bodies require relating to activities, procedures, operations, rules and provisions across many different areas within the Alliance.
It is important to ensure legal compliance and horizontal coherence of all internally prepared documents with NATO’s acquis, and that all legal aspects are taken into account in the management of projects and programmes. A key activity in this area is to maintain and develop NATO-wide contacts, and cooperate with external legal offices and other international organisations.
Professionals in this area provide thoroughly researched, practical and accurate guidance on legal implications of policy decisions on a wide range of subjects. They also support the preparation of financial, contractual, administrative, regulatory and political negotiations, for instance, by preparing background material, anticipating and mitigating legal risk and proposing apposite legal solutions.
Projects and programmes are powerful means to the deliver on the strategy and achieve the objectives of any organisation, including NATO. This is cross-cutting area of work supports the transformation of various business inputs into concrete actions through initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing projects and programmes in the core and support functions of NATO.
Responsibilities in this area include the development of programme and project management activities addressing scope, schedule, risk, quality, resources, communications, procurement, stakeholder management, and integration matters. Activities also support business excellence through the implementation and advocacy of management standards, tools and best practices, including operation of project management offices.
Professionals in this area contribute to the communications and change management efforts of projects and programmes by facilitating workshops and developing communications products and reports. They also participate in the financial management of large programmes involving trust funds and grants with a distributed structure of teams within a network of internal and external stakeholders.
The field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is constantly evolving and NATO needs to ensure that its tools and digital practices remain up-to-date.
ICT is an area that drives and contributes to a great number of initiatives supporting the digital strategy and transformation of NATO’s core and support functions, including business analysis, design and delivery of solutions. It also develops data analytics and business intelligence solutions as enablers of effective decision-making, consultation, and command and control.
Work in this area contributes to elements of the entire lifecycle of military technology capabilities development, from definition of requirements and planning through delivery to retirement. It also involves overseeing the selection, configuration, updates and implementation of commercial off-the-shelf management information systems in support of business requirements.
By working closely with stakeholders from Member States and across the NATO civilian and military chain of command, professionals in this area ensure the adequate analysis of business requirements and thereby contribute to the design, development, testing and deployment of bespoke software solutions for core and support functions. They also support the technological aspect of diverse programmes and projects, including scoping, planning, executing and monitoring development of specialised project deliverables.
The core business of engineering and supply chain management is to provide solutions to complex and emerging technical challenges. This is crucial for development of capabilities, which enable NATO to deliver on its mission and purpose.
Main responsibilities in this area include the planning and development of the entire lifecycle of military capabilities. This includes but is not limited to physical infrastructure, engineering works and support equipment, from the definition of requirements through planning and delivery to decommissioning.
Professionals in this area provide advice and conduct analyses on operational requirements, capability definition, performance requirements and project planning for capability delivery. They are also responsible for logistics support activities for weapon systems and field operations, including turn-key construction of hard structure facilities, fuel supply and engineering works such as renovation of roads, bridges and railways.
Activities also include the delivery of civilian logistics including distribution, handling, transportation, management, warehousing and automation. Another important focus of work in is the preparation and negotiation of large-scale purchasing agreements, consolidation of requirements, centralization of purchasing, and the management of international competitive bidding.