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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.

All of Syria Strategy and Programmes Adviser

International Medical Corps
December 2014 to May 2016
Full-time
Amman
Jordan
  • This was a senior leadership role designed to troubleshoot strategy, delivery and reputational challenges for the International Medical Corps at a challenging time for their work in Syria and the region.
  • Hired by International Medical Corps as a senior Strategic Adviser to reform their All of Syria Strategy and programmes. This encompassed all programming inside Syria as well as the programmes in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq/KRI and Jordan. A key component of the work was to support programmes transitioning from first phase emergency response to a chronic humanitarian situation.
  • Having successfully delivered the All of Syria strategy, I was commissioned to bring IMC teams across Syria and the Region together to improve communication, systems and processes including monitoring and accountability.
  • Alongside my strategy development role, IMC turned to me to lead on in-country donor and agency relationships during a highly challenging period for the organisation. I did this successfully until January 2016.