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Sonia Zambakides

Senior Leader, International Development

Professional Status
Employed
Open to opportunities
About Me
I am a highly experienced leader in international affairs, with a passion for leading teams to make a real and lasting difference. My belief in development motivates me and drives my ability to make genuine change.

I lead large-scale operations with responsibility for hundreds of staff, and their welfare, with substantial budgets. This includes directing global missions, building country and regional programmes and running large scale emergency response programmes. My experience spans international organisations, senior donor and diplomatic engagement, and top tier commercial consulting.

I am currently the Crown Agents Fund Director and Asia and Middle East Regional Director. Prior to this I was London-based leading Crown Agents' global Humanitarian and Stabilisation team. From 2006 to 2017 I worked in East Africa and the Middle East, building, running and representing large scale, high-value country and regional programmes.

I am an innovator, who designs and delivers instruments that are designed for impact for the beneficiaries they serve. While my career spans the full humanitarian - to- development spectrum, I believe we should focus on responding to, and resolving, protracted crises which require sensitive, adaptable and multi-skilled approaches. I achieve results in these situations and have long been an advocate of designing interventions that have fluidity between multiple strands running in parallel (such as humanitarian response, recovery and resilience) in order to meet needs in often fast-changing landscapes.

My results speak for themselves:
  • In Myanmar, I lead the UK's main humanitarian response programme, a multi-sector fund providing £70 million in funds to over 50 national and international organisations, including in response to COVID and the ongoing military coup.
  • In Lebanon, I built a $45 million country programme, leading a team of more than 600 people.
  • In Somalia, I led a multi-sector programme valued at $60m over 18 months, reaching even the hardest parts of the country.

I build outstanding and high performing teams, often drawn from my extensive network of contacts. I have a talent for working in an inclusive manner with people of all backgrounds. I value diversity by recognizing the differences and using these to draw out individual and team strengths. I empower my teams and organisations to achieve their potential, often in high pressure situations and achieve loyalty through doing so.

It is this combination of innovation, ambition, experience and leadership that make me an ideal leader in international development and I look forward to my next challenge.

Country Director

Cradle international NGO
September 1992 to July 1997
Mostar
Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • I was a founder member of Cradle and led operations in Mostar, Bosnia and Hercegovina in 1992 to secure safe delivery of humanitarian aid to children affected by the conflict.
  • I established logistics and supply chain protocols for aid coming from Ireland to Mostar and subsequently managed them. Commodities procured included communications (such as HF/VHF radios and satellite phones) and field site/office/warehouse establishment.
  • I was responsible for developing and implementing life saving programmes such as nutrition and health in partnership with local organisations.
  • I held responsibility for security management, including rapid security assessments to inform programmes on how to adapt and ensure safe delivery of services in a highly volatile environment.
  • I developed a network of local NGO's, local administrations, international NGO's and community representatives to promote collaboration of services.
  • I represented and advocated for the organisation in the field and gave regular briefings to the Irish Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • I supported local NGO's and community groups to secure funding and implement programmes in a post-conflict environment.
Detailed Description
  • Made Cradle a key player in humanitarian work in Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Company Description
A small international NGO that was established in 1991 to deliver humanitarian aid to the children in Mostar, Bosnia & Hercegovina region. The international NGO grew over the course of the next five years and became a major player in programmes targetting the most vulnerable children in the region during and post conflict. I was a founder member of Cradle and had direct responsibility for establishment of operations and programmes in Mostar and surrounding areas.