Your browser is outdated!

To ensure you have the best experience and security possible, update your browser. Update now


Sonia Zambakides

Senior Leader, International Development

Sonia Zambakides
Driving License
United Kingdom
Professional Status
Open to opportunities
About Me
I recently moved to Myanmar to act as Crown Agents Fund Director and Asia and Middle East Regional Director. Prior to this I was London based leading their global Humanitarian and Stabilisation team. From 2006 to 2017 I worked in East Africa and the Middle East running large scale emergency responses and building country/regional programmes.

I have a deep passion for development and a core belief in the ability to make a difference. These are my primary drivers for the work I do and result in me being highly motivated and driven to effect change where change is needed.

My career has spanned the full spectrum of humanitarian response to long term development: however, I believe that these traditional divides are no longer relevant in todays context where 80% of the conflicts are protracted crisis. For a number of years I have been an advocate of designing strategic, and operational approaches which have fluidity between multiple strands running in parallel, such as humanitarian response, recovery and resilience in order to meet the needs in the changing development landscape.
  • I have managed up to 600 staff and trained senior management on key leadership skills. Experience in using motivational leadership through decisive actions, positive affirmation and promoting team and individual accountability. A key component of effective leadership is promoting a wide reaching ethos of accountability.
  • 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.
  • A strong track record of successful change management skills with an ability to bring diverse organisations and individuals together to focus on a common goal.
  • Strong belief in forging links and networks with governments, peer organisations, local communities and authorities to improve collaboration, avoid duplication, build staff and local capacity in order to ultimately provide more effective service delivery.
  • A clear experiential understanding of the role advocacy and policy reform play in the development arena. A proven track record of using these mediums to effect change at local, national and international level.
  • Ability to create dynamic strategies to ensure that affected populations have a voice at international and national level.
  • Demonstrable capacity to work effectively with media including preparation and delivery of press statements/briefings, leading on international press visits and long term experience in press and broadcast interviews.
  • Over 20 years of experience in advocating for policy change starting at the Irish and European level where I was a key activist in the successful movement to have rape recognised as a war crime. As the Country Director in Lebanon I worked the development and implementation of the No Lost Generation mo
  • Proven track record in bringing together all stakeholders to agree complex advocacy strategies and approaches, ensuring the common theme is maintained and clearly articulated throughout .
  • In-depth knowledge of programme cycle management. 20+ years experience of designing, implementing, monitoring and reporting on programmes. I have trained senior managers on all aspects of programme management.
  • Extensive experience in financial management. I have designed, monitored and reported on a large scale budgets since the start of my career and I have held direct accountability for budgets up to $60 million.
  • Extensive monitoring and evaluation experience, including design of equality proofing templates for social inclusion programmes.
  • Proven capacity to develop and maitain donor relations: I have developed and implemented development and emergency proposals for the European Union, the UK Department for International Development (DfID), United Nations bodies and all other major donors.
  • I have a proven track record of fundraising in challenging environments; for example I maintained and increased funding for Somalia in 2010 during a time of diminished donor engagement and heightened risk aversion due to the political context.
  • Demonstrated capacity to mobilize resources through rapid assessments, familiarity with humanitarian/emergency funding sources, rapid proposal development and emergency management systems.
  • Extensive experience in leading and managing rapid response teams. I was a key member of a crisis management team during a kidnapping in Somalia which had a fast and positive result.
  • Knowledge of development and implementation of emergency preparedness plans, and familiarity with Humanitarian Accountability Principles (HAP), Sphere standards, and the Red Cross/Crescent Code of Conduct.
  • Proven ability to remain calm and focussed under pressure and to both communicate and implement the necessary actions.
  • Development of humanitarian strategic plans including support and capacity building of teams to ensure effective implementation.
  • Experience in using motivational leadership through decisive actions, positive affirmation and promoting team and individual accountability. I re-structured and led a team through a change management process transitioning from European Union to Irish Government funding.
  • 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.
  • Demonstrated conflict resolution skills. I have used these skills to negotiate with warring factions, communities in crisis and boards of management.
  • Ability to adapt approaches to suit different groups or individuals ensuring cultural sensitivity and respect.
  • Experience of logisitcs in Somalia and Bosnia and Hercegovina including procurement, supply chain management, communications (including HF/VHF radios and satellite phones) and field site/office/warehouse establishment.
  • Extensive experience of security management: I initiated and implemented security protocols in Bosnia and Hercegovina for staff. I have both led and participated in crisis management teams during security incidents in Bosnia & Hercegovina & Somalia.
  • Proven ability to perform office management and administration duties. I have established and run offices in various countries.
  • Human Resources knowledge and experience including legal understanding of recruitement, staff development and disciplinary procedures.