Tore Svenning joined the Norwegian Red Cross in 1985, following some years of volunteering, and has been posted in Sudan, Geneva, Jordan, Cyprus, Kuwait, Israel, Moscow and Budapest. From an operational track, he shifted to humanitarian diplomacy just after the Federation obtained observer status in the United Nations General Assembly in 1994. He worked in external relations in the Secretariat, supporting the New York Office and developing relations with institutions like the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Geneva based UN agencies as well as the local diplomatic community. His training was in theoretical economics and history.