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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

Save the Children Lebanon
May 2013 to November 2014
Full-time
Beirut
Lebanon
  • My appointment came at a critical time for Save the Children reputationally in Lebanon and for the country and regional programme. I was required to build a country team and portfolio responding to Lebanon's long-standing crisis, exacerbated by the needs of Syrian refugees.
  • I started as the Country Director in May 2013 and scaled up the programme from $5 million to $45 million by December 2013 to respond to immediate and longer term needs of Syrian refugees and host populations in Lebanon.
  • I was required to build up the Save the Children Lebanon programme from small interventions to a high-value multi sector portfolio. I established a new country office, led in recruiting and appointing the entire Lebanon Country Office SMT and then supported in building the teams underneath them. At peak capacity there was a staff of 450 people full time and 250 people part time.
  • Built a new team, structure, system, ethos and delivery mechanism focussing on both medium-to-long-term needs as well as urgent humanitarian assistance. The portfolio I constructed delivered on Save the Children's core competences around child protection and educations, whilst delivering predictable assistance for diverse beneficiary groups across the Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian communities. Further details on request due to need for confidentiality of this programme.
  • Over 2013 I took the lead in repairing fractured donor and Save the Children member relationships ensuring all concerns were addressed and then successfully achieving buy in to the vision and strategy for the coming 18 months.
  • Significantly strengthened the reputation of Save the Children Lebanon with internal donors, UN, Government and INGO's and extensive external representation, including media and high level visits to fundraise and build confidence in the country office ability to respond to the needs appropriately and accountably.
Company Description
Save the Children is the world’s leading independent children’s charity. It works to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.