Describe your current role
I lead a small team of technical advisors who support CARE’s country offices worldwide to implement emergency shelter programmes in response to humanitarian disasters. Our approach encourages the self-recovery of programme participants where possible, as well as the empowerment of women and girls.
Describe your path to your current role
On graduation, I worked for many years in the private sector in London. I interspersed this work with overseas travel and work in international development and humanitarian response as well as part-time tutoring and lecturing. I spent six months working for Oxfam in the aftermath of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and have since worked in humanitarian emergencies such as:
- The 2010 Haiti earthquake
- A cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- With Syrian refugees in Jordan
- With Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
- A volcanic eruption in Vanuatu
Are there any key things you did, or learnt, that helped you on your career path?
Joining RedR (Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief) early in my career was a turning point. I also spent four months living in the bush in central Tanzania building a health dispensary and ferrocement water tank with Health Projects Abroad which proved that I was adaptable and motivated. Additionally, it gave me the experience I needed to secure my first humanitarian position, through RedR, with Oxfam in Albania during the 1999 Kosovo refugee crisis.
What are your future career aspirations?
I have been in my current role for almost four years and I plan to stay for the foreseeable future. The humanitarian and international development sector is constantly changing, so that future may be unpredictable but it is certainly fascinating and challenging.
What motivates you to work in relief/ development?
Quite simply, the people. I work with a great team in the UK and CARE’s staff around the world are dedicated and inspiring. Knowing that our work helps to improve the lives of the programme participants is hugely motivating and seeing this first-hand in the field is extremely rewarding.
Who should become a structural engineer working in the humanitarian or development sectors?
These sectors require a range of skills and abilities that complement those of the structural engineer. A degree of altruism is essential, as is a flexible and sensitive approach to the work, and a sense of humour.
How is membership of the Institution relevant and useful to your work in international development or humanitarian work?
Without the technical background and career progression that led to qualifying as a Chartered Engineer my current role would be much harder. Knowing when to apply engineering judgement and when a rigorous engineering solution is required can be critical in humanitarian work and having the support of a professional organisation is invaluable.