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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.

Response Team Leader/Humanitarian Director

Save the Children Somalia
February 2010 to April 2013
Full-time
Nairobi
Kenya
  • I led Save the Children's $60 million famine response in Somalia during 2011/12. Due to the sheer scope and scale of this response and the fact the existing country programme was continuing to deliver its development work, I was mandated to establish and lead an entirely new and seperate team to run all aspects of the response, including fundraising, media, programmes, HR, operations, finance and grants.
  • Over 18 months, Save the Children under my leadership disbursed 40 live grants. I developed systems which enabled accountable and successful spend evidenced by efficacy of delivery and no donor disallows over this period of time.
  • I held primary responsibility and accountability for my budget, as well as fundraising, donor relationships and the implementation of the response programmes.
  • Developed a new and high performing team who delivered exceptional results for children over 18 months during the famine. For example, successful fundraising led to a cash grant programme which reached 10,000 households within 3 weeks of securing donor approval in a highly insecure environment.
  • Leading member of the crisis management team. I played a key role in this team during a kidnapping in Somalia which had a fast and positive result.
  • I was the focal point for all Save the Children International members in this response taking the lead on fundraising, advocacy and ensuring clear communications.
  • I engaged in extensive media representation acting as the in country spokesperson and have accompanied high profile journalists to Somalia. This included preparation and delivery of press statements/briefings, leading on international press visits and frequent press and broadcast interviews.
Detailed Description
  • Increased member support to Somalia both through the response and subsequently; developed and maintained good relationships with multiple members, facilitated and accompanied member visits and continued liaison with donors in country.
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.