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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.

Humanitarian and Development Consultancies - varied

United Nations and international NGO's Sudan, Kenya, Somalia
January 2007 to January 2010
Consultant
Nairobi - Darfur - Somaliland
  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme Sudan (UN-HABITAT Sudan). I co-ordinated a team of local consultants and university graduates to carry out an economic profile of two cities in Darfur. This led to the development of a local economic development and micro enteprise programmes.
  • United Nations Development Programme for Somalia (UNDP Somalia). I worked with the Armed Violence Reduction team on the Community Safety Strategy for Somalia. I co-ordinated and ran training/workshops for local government representatives and worked with local NGO's to build capacity to deliver a Community Safety programme. The programme sought to reduce and prevent armed violence through the involvement of State actors in a partnership with the local communities and NGOs.
  • I provided support to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Early Warning & Assesment (DEWA) for changeover in global programming for 2010-2012. UNEP was changing to a matrix system and had for the first time to develop programmes using results based management methodologies.
  • I developed procedures in monitoring and evaluation, project management and implementation for the changeover strategy.
  • I trained and coached management and teams in change management, and developed staff capacity to support the development of two year global, regional and sub-regional projects.
Detailed Description
  • Set up a team of Sudanese graduates and equipped them with the skills to conduct qualitative and quantitative research. The research findings then informed local economic development programmes.
  • Contributed to build trust between the various stakeholders of UNDP Somalia's Community Safety programme. The programme was new, and had an innovative approach, which required buy-in from management and government counterparts. The programme is now a flagship at UNDP Somalia.
Company Description
UN-HABITAT is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It promotes socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
UNDP helps people meet their development needs and build a better life. UNDP Somalia works with partners ‒ NGOs, civil society and government ‒ towards a peaceful and secure nation for all Somalis.