“Impactful. Rewarding. Challenging.” Our Programme Manager Daniel Smith reflects on his time working for Crown Agents.
Can you tell us about your first role at Crown Agents in the Commercial Development Office (CDO) team?
When donors release ‘calls for proposals’ to instigate a programme to tackle a particular international development challenge, CDO are the brains behind Crown Agents’ response. They draw on expertise from across the business to formulate a project plan that will drive transformation across the globe. Working within this team provided me with a fantastic foundation to kick-start my career at Crown Agents. I was given the responsibility of bid managing several large bid proposals, overseeing the process in which we designed a programme that was to be considered by large donors such as the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The high standards that CDO work towards taught me a lot about attention to detail. Effective team management was also key as I found myself working alongside a vast number of technical experts from across the business, drawing on their knowledge and experience to shape our bid submission.
What inspired you to take the next step in your career and join the Programme Management Office (PMO) team?
Working on proposals meant I was supporting the design of programmes, but I wanted to be part of driving the actual change on the ground. I wanted to see and feel our impact. I therefore started to manage programmes from start to finish, building relationships with donors and implementing partners. I really enjoy driving towards a goal as a team.
I joined during the pandemic, so I got stuck in very quickly as our current programmes across the world were rapidly adapting to respond to the outbreak. We were also taking on a lot of new work too, including an FCDO programme aimed at supporting the UK Overseas Territories. I was given the opportunity to oversee this work, working closely with our Procurement and Supply Chain teams to procure and deliver medical supplies, such as test kits, PPE and Covid-19 vaccines, to 13 Overseas Territories.
What makes project management such an interesting field to work in for a young professional?
Once you have an understanding of programme management best practice you can take this knowledge and successfully and confidently apply it to most, if not all, projects across different technical areas. From health to humanitarian programmes, supply chain to governance – there is a pool of opportunities to apply your skills to and gain experience from. The variety of programmes to get involved in means your career is interesting and ever evolving, giving you exposure to numerous clients and a diverse group of industry and technical experts. If you choose a career in project management, you are always learning. Every project, every team and task is unique.
Can you share some of the biggest achievements you’ve made in the last year in your role?
Being promoted from Programme Manager to Team Leader on two FCDO programme’s – the FCDO UK Overseas Territories Covid-19 Medical Supplies programme, and the FCDO HMG Vaccine Sharing supply chain programme. The latter has ensured over ten million Covid-19 vaccines donated by the UK Government were safely stored, transported and distributed to over 20 countries across multiple continents.
I was delighted to attend the Supply Chain Excellence awards with the rest of the project team to accept the Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Excellence Award for our work on these projects supporting the UK’s overseas Covid-19 response. I must say, meeting Shaun Williams (Barry from EastEnders) who was hosting the awards was another highlight.
What do you like most about your job?
It’s a great feeling when you get to see or hear first-hand that a programme you are working on is driving meaningful change and making an impact on people’s lives. It is truly rewarding work. A recent example is when we procured and delivered oxygen therapy medical equipment to health facilities across Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Kenya along with capacity building training for the healthcare workers. Prior to this programme, many of the facilities were lacking equipment to treat Covid-19 and other respiratory issues. To now know health workers are upskilled to provide life-saving treatment through the use of the equipment is thoroughly satisfying, particularly as it means the countries will see the long-term benefits well into the future.
Daniel Smith is a Programme Manager at Crown Agents, overseeing the operationalisation and delivery of several of our impactful programmes across the globeDuring his time working in our UK Headquarters Office, he has shaped a career which has enabled him to experience what it takes to both design and develop a programme from scratch and how to manage and deliver that programme once it goes live.