Natalia Kolbjornsen, Project Manager of the Month, on Improving Equity and Inclusivity Within Partner Relationships
Tetra Tech CEO Dan Batrack created our Project Manager (PM) of the Month award to honor PMs who demonstrate excellence in supporting our clients and perform projects to the highest standards of quality and fiscal discipline.
“Natalia has an exceptional ability to cultivate trusted working relationships with all our stakeholders and keep the implementation team strong and motivated.”– Kevin Wheeler, Unit President
Natalia Kolbjornsen is Tetra Tech’s December 2022 PM of the Month. Natalia has more than five years of experience in the private sector and international development project management in Haiti, West Africa, and Central Africa. She currently manages the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) New Partnerships Initiative Incubator for Kaizen, A Tetra Tech Company, promoting local leadership and improving equity and inclusivity within partner relationships. Natalia also served as the task order manager for USAID and Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) Middle East North Africa Regional Support.
“Natalia has an exceptional ability to cultivate trusted working relationships with all our stakeholders and keep the implementation team strong and motivated,” said Kevin Wheeler, Unit President.
Natalia earned her master’s degree from George Washington University in International Development Studies and specializes in gender equality and social inclusion, focusing on international education.
“This award is a recognition of the hard work of my project management unit and field office team, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them. I appreciate the support from my Kaizen colleagues and those across Tetra Tech,” said Natalia.
We talked with Natalia about managing successful international development projects to increase localized programming and small business participation.
What impact do your projects have on the communities you work in?
Through the Incubator Program, we are able to engage and connect with the local community. The Partnerships Incubator works with USAID headquarters and Missions to identify and engage new and local partners, provide training and capacity-strengthening assistance, and develop tools, resources, and models to advance localization and inclusive development. The Incubator also designed, developed, and launched WorkwithUSAID.org, a first-of-its-kind digital resource hub for USAID’s staff and partners.
What is your approach to managing a successful project team?
My approach is to have a problem-solving mindset and promote collaborative team dynamics. I prioritize creating an environment where everyone feels secure in taking initiative on project improvement ideas and suggesting initiatives that improve processes and outcomes. It is also important to foster a strong working relationship between the home office team and the field team and exemplify consistency, camaraderie, and respect.
How do you maintain client satisfaction across a variety of complex projects?
As a project manager, I aim to exceed the client’s expectations and meet their immediate and long-term needs. I do my best to be highly responsive and make myself available for both routine and urgent matters. In addition, I make sure to provide timely support to my field team on contractual compliance, financial, and operational tasks, so that our clients are satisfied with the project. By reducing the amount of time needed to complete complex and demanding assignments, our team can meet the client’s rapid response needs and deliver better experiences.