Ben B.

Deputy Country Director
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Ben B.
Post-war Reconstruction and Development
Post-War Recovery Studies
Taught Postgraduate
United Kingdom

My employment

Deputy Country Director
Congo, the Democratic Republic of the
Charity and voluntary sector
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a Deputy Country Director in Congo, the Democratic Republic of the

A language will really help you in the humanitarian sector both to get the role and then to do it well.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

Medair is a humanitarian organisation that works in a number of emergency contexts to support people who have been affected by conflict and/or natural disasters.

What do you do?

I manage the implementation and development of Medair's country programme in DRC, alongside providing leadership and strategic direction to the team. The role also involves security management, external representation and grant management. Working in a humanitarian and development setting such as the DRC means that no day is the same and I am constantly dealing with different challenges and the completely unexpected. As a senior manager i am able to contribute towards shaping a positive team and management culture that enables us to better respond to emergencies and implement good projects.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

I've worked in the humanitarian sector for 6 years, firstly with Tearfund in South Sudan, DRC and Iraq, and subsequently in HQ programme coordination roles for War Child UK and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Having had different experiences i looked for an organisation that had a good reputation and a role that i felt i would enjoy and also find challenging. For finding new roles i use recruitment websites such as reliefweb and charityjob, and organisation job pages, and also listening to colleagues and other staff on the culture of other organisations and seeing if that might be good for me.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

No. I'd planned to work in the international development/humanitarian sector and i've been able to do that.

Describe your most memorable day at work

I been fortunate to see a number of amazing projects delivered to support people in some of the most challenging contexts in the world. On the one hand i have been able to see humanitarian support given to people in very remote contexts, through three days of driving through the jungle to access the town, another which was only available by helicopter. The most memorable however, was being able to support a project that worked with a group of young people in central african republic and to see them develop into young leaders over a number of years was very special.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

The hardest part of the job is that you are often based in very difficult and isolated environments which can mean that maintaining a good work/life balance is hard, and also that you face many pressures that you wouldn't face in a more "normal" location with regard to insecurity. Additionally, it's very likely in my role that a number of difficult challenges arrive at the same time and so it's a matter of problem solving and prioritising.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I studied french in the languages for all, and this came in use during three of my subsequent jobs. A language will really help you in the humanitarian sector both to get the role and then to do it well.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

It's a challenging sector to start in as there is a lot of competition for entry level/junior roles. I would suggest applying for as many roles as possible (don't worry about it not being exactly what you want to do as a first role), learning a language is extremely helpful, and if you have a speciality then focus on that and what makes you a different candidate to others. Doing additional courses/volunteer work can be very useful for developing experience and for your cv.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the sector I work in or just from my experience at York. I would be happy to mentor anybody who is interested in working in the humanitarian/development sector.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Ben’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Ben a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Ben to be your mentor.

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