What time does your alarm go off and how do you start your day?
Being woken by an alarm is like being kicked in the teeth by time itself. I prefer to rely on passion and ambition as the best types of alarm. Regrettably, this is not often the most practical approach.
This is why I am thankful for Brooke’s flexible working hours. Not being a morning person, I find music spurs me on until I can get that first black coffee down me, and I have broad enough tastes to tailor my listening to whatever challenges I foresee for the day: Paul McCartney’s underrated pre-Wings classic Ram puts a spring in the step; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Second Movement never fails to rouse; whereas sometimes you just need that shock to the system that can only be afforded by Fugazi’s seminal 1990 post-hardcore classic Repeater. I don’t know how people got by before headphones existed.
What are you responsible for in your role at Brooke?
A multitude of co-ordinating activities around ensuring the quality and impact of Brooke’s programme work that takes place in the field.
Specifically, I focus on the work being undertaken by Brooke’s partners: independent organisations that receive a grant from Brooke to carry out a specific project or programme of work. This includes our Innovation Fund, which finances trials of new approaches to tackling equine welfare issues. I also have a particular interest in Disaster Response and Resilience, and lead a working group looking at improvements to our strategies and processes in this increasingly important area.
What’s your typical day?
A typical day will be spent in the London office working with colleagues across many teams (and countries!). Following that crucial first coffee, the day might entail any or all of the following: responding to emails from our partners in Afghanistan, Guatemala and Nepal; reading and acting upon reports from grantees; speaking with technical colleagues to ensure the validity of the design of new projects; speaking with finance colleagues to arrange the disbursement of funds to grantees; checking financial reports for accuracy; writing reports or presentations to share with Fundraising and Communication colleagues so they can tell donors about our work; speaking with Monitoring and Evaluation colleagues to check that projects are on track and progressing as planned; and contributing to Brooke’s overarching strategies and approaches. As I am quite tall, I am often also called upon to get things down from high-up places.
As you can tell from that list, communication is probably the key to a lot of what I do: ensuring that challenges and successes are flagged to the right people so that Brooke can coordinate across all of its global work.
How did you get your job?
I used to work in the publishing industry in international sales and marketing. The best part of that was traveling and meeting colleagues and associates from around the world, presenting and doing deals with book buyers and major retail chains. There was also a lot of logistics to manage and I still wake up from time-to-time in a cold sweat with the 13-digit ISBN number of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ringing in my head.
Undertaking voluntary work in India, in both community development NGOs and animal sanctuaries, reignited my life-long interest and commitment to animal welfare. I was fortunate to find a role at Brook in which I could use my professional experience and skills and combine these with a burgeoning interest in programme work.
The communities we met were so warm, enthusiastic, welcoming and generous, that it was a very humbling and yet rewarding experience.
What’s your most memorable work moment?
I had the opportunity to visit our partner, Dutch Committee for Afghanistan (DCA), to speak about future strategy and gain a greater understanding of their work. Visiting some of their programme sites made our work come alive and gave me a far better idea of everyday challenges faced by both the DCA team and the equine-owning communities they work with.
I have been lucky enough to visit some fairly remote places but I never thought rural Afghanistan would be on that list. One of the great pleasures of travel is going out on a limb, with some trepidation, to somewhere you really think you don’t belong… and finding common ground. The communities we met were so warm, enthusiastic, welcoming and generous, that it was a very humbling and yet rewarding experience. Owners understood the welfare needs of their donkeys, wanted to commit to better welfare, and were thankful to Brooke, which was a huge validation for me that the work I contribute to does create lasting change for working animals.
However, maybe the most memorable moment in all of this was flying in a UN helicopter from Kabul into the mountainous Bamyan province with a bad bout of food poisoning, stomach churning, wondering how bumpy the landing was going to be.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Having food poisoning while on a helicopter ride is probably close to the top of the list!
Really, it’s the challenge that is inherent in our mission – equine welfare is an intangible and so defining it and how to best bring it about is a tricky business. This is my first role in the charity sector; I have always worked in the private sector where you have a very clear target: increase your bottom line. Here it’s more complex. Brooke is full of talented and highly passionate people, and often this means different ideas about the best approach to achieving sustainable improvements for equine welfare.
Sometimes it can be frustrating when you see suffering and want to get on and tackle it in the most direct way possible, but a lot of thought and planning goes into our work to ensure its sustainability and quality, and put donors’ money to the best use.
What is the best part of your job?
Certainly the people that I work with, who are not only the most talented bunch of colleagues, but also some of the nicest people I have known. Having the international aspect is fantastic as well, as I’ve always enjoyed connecting and working with people across the world. It’s always a pleasure to welcome colleagues from our branch and affiliate offices to London. It’s a great feeling when you’ve contributed as part of this global team to a successful outcome for animals, however small.
What would be your Plan B? What would you be doing if you didn’t work at Brooke?
Well, international account management seems to be my strength professionally, so anywhere that I can combine that with making a difference to the lives of animals would be ideal. That said, I have a strong interest in the arts, in which I like to dabble.
What do you do after work?
I'm quite creative and like to feel I’m doing something constructive with my time. I’m always working on some kind of project: painting, drawing, writing or making music. At the moment my attention has been drawn to the domestic sphere and I have been interior decorating and upcycling like a demon! I also spend a lot of time listening to music, poring over records and making a quick buck here and there taking advantage of the vinyl boom.
What makes you proud to be Brooke?
Not to downplay the work we do in the UK, without which we wouldn’t have programmes to run, but I am often in awe of the drive and passion displayed by the teams working in the field, often under very challenging circumstances. They are an inspiration and motivate me to be better at supporting them.
We reach over two million working horses, donkeys and mules across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Our staff include vets, animal welfare experts, and advocacy and development specialists.