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Today is about Crown Agents women #InternationalWomensDay

5th March 2020

An equal world is an enabled world. International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women’s achievement, increase their visibility and take action for equality. At Crown Agents we know we wouldn’t be where we are today without the incredible determination, intelligence, diplomacy and vigour of our female employees.

Whether it be our first lady clerks in 1878, our women serving in humanitarian settings, our programme managers, our finance teams or our logistics consultants, Crown Agents women for centuries have strived to ensure the ongoing prosperity of nations across the globe.

Why not discover a few of their stories here:

Phyo Haymar Than Htun, Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor.
Humanitarian Assistance Resilience Programme Facility, Myanmar

I look back on my journey as a woman, and it’s not been easy. I’ve had my own challenges, just as others have had. But I’ve always held onto a dream that I have the power to determine how my life pans out, and the ability to change my situation to a more positive one. As the eldest sister, I’ve been driven by the hope that I can guide my sister and brother.

I was born in Letpadan town, Bago Devision, Myanmar in 1983 and attended a local high school. In 1995 my father passed away, and in 2002 so did my mother, leaving me an orphan at age 19. I struggled to support my siblings during this time and progress in my education. However, I’ve always been a determined person, and two years later I received my bachelor’s degree in English.

Experiencing poverty first-hand, and having a drive to support others, I went searching for a career where my background would be beneficial to the role. Through hard work, networking and collaborating I ended up working in the Resilience and Emergency Management (Disaster Risk-Reduction [DDR], Climate Change, School Safety) sector. I’ve conducted international research, participated in community workshops and now by taking on the role as DDR Advisor for the Crown Agents managed HARP-Facility, I am helping build a resilient nation.

Peace Eunice, Finance Assistant.
Health Pooled Fund 3, South Sudan

I am a female South Sudanese national born in Yei town in 1988 during the South Sudan civil war. Due to the crises, my parents sort refuge in Uganda, where I grew up and was educated in a refugee camp until senior secondary school.

In 2008, I decided to return to my country to seek further opportunities following the death of my farther. I started a basic computer training course which earned me a certificate in Basic Computer Application. I then got a job with International Medical Corps (IMC) as an office cleaner from January 2011 to February 2013. However, due to challenges of having no one to look after my first baby, I left the job to take on my role as a new mother.

I later joined the Crown Agents managed HPF1 project in May 2013 as a cleaner. The salary I got from my job helped me to take care of my family, and as I started saving I was able to enrol at the Juba Institute of Management and achieve a Certificate in Business Administration. With motivation from the HPF family and a zeal to advance my career, I decided to take on another challenge and joined the Kampala University (Juba Branch) to earn a Diploma in Business Administration.

My drive and hard work enabled me to be promoted internally within the HPF office, first to the Operations department, and then to my current role as Finance Assistant for the HPF3 programme. I am married and a mother to 2 children, but my passion to pursue and advance my career has never diminished, and I plan on enrolling for an undergraduate course in the near future.

My advice to the women seeking to start a career in the International Development sector is that when you have the heart, passion and the interest to do something, determination and keeping focused is what matters. You have to maintain a balance between your family, your job and what you want to achieve in your future, but don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Working hard and grasping the opportunities around you to learn something new only makes you a better person. I have got to where I am today because of my personal determination. You too can make it.

Kellyjo Tapsell, Logistics Manager.
Crown Agents Headquarters, UK

I started my career in logistics 21 years ago when I joined Greenshields Cowie. Traditionally, there has been a significant gender imbalance in the industry, but I’ve been lucky in that Greenshields Cowie has always encouraged female talent. Over the last two decades I’ve had opportunities to travel to challenging environments, improve my operational expertise and contribute to improving warehousing and transportation processes, thus making a real difference to people’s lives. Our role isn’t just moving products from A to B, rather it’s about using tried and tested knowledge to ensure that essential medicines and aid items reach those who really need them.

In the first half of my career I managed the emergency logistics programmes for the UK Government including ensuring 2,000 tons of aid reached Sierra Leone during the Ebola Crisis. Greenshields Cowie won a Global Freight Award for this work, so it was really rewarding to be recognised for our achievements on an international scale! Since then, I have managed emergency logistics response programmes in the Caribbean, Kosovo, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and currently on the Syrian border.

I’ve found a job for life in logistics. The International Development sector is so diverse, and whilst supply chain logistics wouldn’t be every woman’s first thought when seeking a job, the challenges are extremely rewarding. As a Logistics Manager, you have an overview of the entire supply chain – and the whole thing falls apart without efficient logistics processes, so the role carries a lot of responsibility. Every day is different – one day you are applying analytical and project management skills to mitigate risks, another you are preparing to rapidly source alterative, safe delivery routes due to a sudden onset crisis such as civil war, flooding, or failing infrastructure. It’s always about thinking two steps ahead, so that you can continuously ensure that people across the globe can receive the aid they so desperately need.

Paidamoyo Bvumbe, Consultant, Governance and Economic Growth.
Crown Agents, Zimbabwe

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where I was educated to secondary school level. I then went on to complete both my Bachelors and Masters degrees at the University of Sussex in the UK, including a year abroad studying in Paris.

I returned home to Zimbabwe after my studies and joined the Crown Agents Zimbabwe team as an intern assisting in bid writing. I must have done something right as, after the bid was completed, I was offered a permanent position as a Business Research Assistant, mostly undertaking donor and competitor analysis work. My career developed further when the team took on our flagship Health programme, Results Based Financing, and I was offered the position as Project Support Officer.

I am now a Consultant for the Governance and Economic Growth team. Climbing the ladder in a business is never easy, especially for women, however I believe my willingness to learn and drive to take on any task with gusto enabled me to get to where I am today.

In my spare time I like to bake, have fun with my 9-month-old daughter, and as a qualified fitness instructor, teach fitness classes in the evening!

Gladys Kpukumu, Operations Manager.
Crown Agents, Sierra Leone

Over the last 16 years, I have been fortunate to have a career working across multiple sectors in Sierra Leone, never hesitating to take on new challenges. I started out as a volunteer in an international organization in 2003, which was the bedrock for my career path. I moved on to Hospitality in 2012, where I enjoyed working within Operations, Administration, Logistics and Sales, gaining experience in both front and back office. I thrived off the challenges from the role and set myself and my team high standards to achieve excellence. I’m particularly proud of the fact that during my time in this position I improved the performance, operations and productivity of my team by 20%. I have now taken on the responsibility of Operations Manager in the Crown Agents Sierra Leone office, coordinating and overseeing all operational activities within the company. My key focus areas are cost reductions, efficiency improvement and making everyone feel comfortable in the office environment.

I believe that as a woman I have achieved success due to the fact that I am an energetic, ambitious person who has developed a mature and responsible approach to any task or situation that I am presented with. I have a clear, logical mind with a practical approach to problem-solving and a drive to see things through to completion. I enjoy overcoming challenges, and I have a genuine interest in making organisations successful. I am eager to learn and see this as a continuous process to make me a better leader.