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© Florian Lems/MSF
15 Nov 16 05 Dec 16

Becoming an MSF logistician

We look for logisticians who are ready to handle whatever life in the field throws at them. This could be managing a team of 100 workers on a construction site or dealing with the hospital electrics crashing at 1 am when 10 children are on oxygenators. Below you'll find out what experience we look for and what your career could look like at MSF.

What you need and why

Experience in construction, electrics, plumbing, mechanics, supply or architecture

Our logisticians come from a diverse range of backgrounds, but they all have a few years of experience working in logistics specialties, preferably in ‘hands-on’ roles.

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Management experience

Most MSF logisticians have experience in team-leader or management roles. This is important because you’ll be working as a manager in the field, often heading a department, managing a big team and working with very basic tools.  

Experience working in a developing country

We need to know that you can manage living in very basic conditions before sending you out to an MSF project. This means that the skills you learn from travelling and working in a developing country are vital for working with MSF. Many of our logisticians have worked abroad with other organisations before joining us.

Languages

Almost a third of MSF projects are in French-speaking countries and many of the humanitarian emergencies we have responded to in recent years have been in the Middle East. This means that logisticians who speak fluent French or Arabic are in real demand.

The competition

We get a lot of very good applications and only have a relatively small number of logistical positions around the world. If you have the skills and experience mentioned above you’ll be a really strong candidate, but sometimes we have to turn down applicants who may be well suited to working for us because we don’t have a position that will suit them at that time. 

what could your msf career look like?

Everyone's career with MSF is different, but here are a few routes you could take if you decide that a career with MSF is right for you. 

Your first mission

As a ‘first missioner’ you will be sent to a project where you can learn about your role in a relatively secure and stable environment. We rarely send first-missioners to an emergency context because you’ll need two to three months to settle into your role and get used to how MSF works. Usually, you will be sent to a team where there are experienced MSF staff who can support you and help you build your ‘field skills’!

After one or two missions, try another logistics role

There are four different logistics roles that you can work in within MSF, and once you have a bit of field experience MSF can support you to move between them to ‘round out’ your experience. These are: technical logistician, all-round logistician, supply logistician, and construction logistician (outlined in the technical log role). You can also move into a water and sanitation specialist role with the correct training.

After five or six missions in various logistics roles apply as a logistics coordinator

A logistics coordinator is the technical expert for logistics in an MSF mission. They sit in the coordination office in the capital, and move between all the projects in the country to provide technical and strategic support to all the logisticians in the projects, as well as ensuring that supplies and staff fly in and around the country where they are needed.

After five or six missions apply as a project coordinator

A project coordinator is in charge of developing the strategy for a project and managing it, by coordinating all the different departments of the project team to reach its objectives and by coordinating MSF’s activities with those of other organisations.

After three to four missions as a project coordinator, apply as a deputy head of mission

A deputy head of mission works with the head of mission to support all the projects in the country, represent MSF at a national level and make national-level decisions.

After two to three missions as a deputy head of mission, apply as a head of mission

A head of mission is the country director for an MSF mission. They make the final decisions of MSFs strategy in the country, both with regards to medical care and humanitarian affairs, as well as providing support to all of the projects in the country.