Can you tell us about your current role and the organisation you are working for?
For the past 5 years I have worked as the Director of Disaster Preparedness and Response for Operation Mercy. In the aftermath of a disaster, my colleagues and I provide surge capacity, sometimes through Skype and email support, and sometimes in person, depending on the nature of the disaster and the competence of the team in the particular country. I also provide humanitarian training to our own organisation and to others.
How did your career in the humanitarian sector begin and what are the major roles you have covered?
Prior to humanitarian work, I was working as an outdoor pursuits instructor, which logistically has many parallels to working in an aid operation. I had a strong desire to use these logistical skills to make more of a difference in peoples’ lives. In line with this, my first humanitarian role was as a Logistics Manager for an aviation charity. I went on to work as a Country Director in pre-independence South Sudan for several years. Subsequently I took on my current role with Operation Mercy.
Can you briefly describe the emergency responses you have been involved in?
Working in South Sudan for over half a decade gave me a longer-term perspective on a lot of the short-term initiatives of humanitarian aid. Although the civil war had finished, there were repeated cycles of human-made and natural crises, and much of my work involved supporting other aid agencies in their emergency response projects. I also volunteered as the NGO security focal point for national and international NGOs, in liaison with the UN’s security structure. I also worked with the new national government to support their development initiatives.
Despite your role involving an international outreach, you choose to be based in the Middle East rather than in Europe’s headquarters. Why?
Partly due to the Syrian and Iraqi crises, I chose to base my current international role in Jordan in the Middle East, rather than Sweden. This gives me another long-term perspective on an important regional crisis, as well as a lot more credibility with other project countries when I visit to support them. From Jordan, I have responded to the actions of ISIS in Iraq, the refugee influx through the Balkans, as well as numerous natural disasters worldwide.