COVID-19, JoPACC and Me
How pandemic uncertainty turned into an unexpected opportunity
By Jude Najjar
It was an unusually warm March morning in Cambridge as I walked to my first class of the day. I was perusing social media and news websites on my phone to get the latest updates when the notification that changed the course of the next two years, and perhaps my life, popped up on the screen. It was an email announcing the shutdown of the university due to the pandemic, which required all students to vacate campus within a week. I packed my bags and made the 8890km journey home to Amman, entering a world of hotel quarantines, government lockdowns, and online classes. With summer plans canceled and life altered, the following two months had an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom. Luckily, it did not last long. Come June and Amman was moving out of lockdowns, and I was getting ready to start my internship at JoPACC. An internship that, unbeknownst to me at the time, would go on to open up an entirely new world of possibilities and potential to me.
I was thrust into a world of digital financial services where unfamiliar terms and concepts, like financial inclusion and eKYC, were used as simply as the word hello. Nevertheless, with help, support, and training from JoPACC’s team, the fog of unfamiliarity lifted. What I found were processes and concepts essential to life and the advancement of Jordan. I was left wondering how I was able to make it this far without understanding the things that are at the very foundation of so many aspects of my daily life. My time at JoPACC allowed me to dive deep into the inner workings of digital financial services in Jordan and the institutions supporting and moving them forward. I was absolutely fascinated.
I, an aspiring mechanical engineer, had never thought about a career or future in financial services. I wanted to become an engineer to be at the forefront of the innovative movement that is changing our world for the better. Working at JoPACC helped me realize that digital financial services can be an avenue to achieve the same goal. They can be used to tackle the various problems facing the world today, from poverty and food insecurity to climate change. This realization forged a new possible path for me in life, one where I would be able to contribute to the use of digital financial services to move Jordan forward and help others. Seeing the impact that JoPACC’s work had amid the pandemic, especially with mobile wallets, the distribution of aid from the National Aid Fund electronically, and increasing financial inclusion, further cemented this desire to contribute to society in a way similar to what JoPACC is doing.
I learned a lot at JoPACC and got the chance to work on a variety of exciting projects, but the aspect that made my internship special was the people. The environment was not one of competition and rivalry but rather camaraderie, where people lifted each other up and worked together in the pursuit of bettering the payments landscape in Jordan. I was quickly embraced as a member of the team, included in all aspects of JoPACC’s work, and provided with the support I needed to do well. I was not made to feel like an intern. Instead, I felt like an equal colleague and partner; I was given responsibilities that grew with time and the chance to voice my opinions and influence the direction of ongoing work and projects.
JoPACC’s outlook on digital financial services and Jordan’s digital transformation journey pulled me into the field and made me question what I wanted to do next in life. However, I know one thing for sure, whether I end up working in engineering, the financial sector, or elsewhere, I will always cherish my time at JoPACC. What I learned from the people there, the skills they helped me cultivate, and the support and wisdom that they provided are things that I will carry with me for the rest of my time in university and my career moving forward.