Hi, I am a project manager working on international development and monitoring and evaluation programmes in Afghanistan for government agencies, based from London. I also manage a small education organisation in Mozambique called AZLera based around the concept of entrepreneurship. If you are interested in development, Mozambique or Brazil please get in touch!
Freddie Brunt is not a true 'escaper'. Freddie combines his work managing UK government projects in Afghanistan through a major international development consultancy, with his work for http://www.azlera.org/blog/" rel="nofollow">AZLera, an education and social entrepreneurship NGO working with talented students in Mozambique, helping prepare them for the demands of further education in Mozambique and further afield.
Make the most of your time and don't let setbacks put you off. And do work you enjoy!
I currently work in the Governance, Security and Justice Team at Coffey International Development, managing large international development programmes, mostly in Afghanistan.
I am also the manager of AZLera, an organisation working in Africa and Latin America in the field of Education and Environmental Conservation.
With the full time job at Coffey, I am constantly battling to keep everything ticking over with AZLera, and am fortunate to have a good team of volunteers supporting me here in the UK, in Brazil and in Mozambique. Juggling the two sides of my work is tough and there are times when I wish had more time to dedicate to AZLera's work.
However, knowing that we are creating unique opportunities for a special group of students to get into further education, that otherwise would have little chance, makes the hard work completely worth it and from a personal side, I know I am lucky to be doing work that I enjoy and find stimulating in very different ways.
I knew from quite an early stage that I wanted to work in international development, but also tested the water doing some placements with financial and property firms in London.
However, I soon realised I needed a career that I was passionate about and would keep me motivated for many years.
Having completed an undergraduate degree in Geography, I spent a year abroad, initially doing a VSO / British Council placement in China and then managing AZLera’s education programme in Mozambique.
I returned to London to pursue a Masters in International Development at SOAS, whilst maintaining a close link to AZLera.
I eventually got my job at Coffey about 18 months ago and was consequently offered the chance to manage AZLera’s Mozambique programme from London.
I knew that once I started full time employment, especially in the area that I now work, that it would be very easy for other interests to drop off, and for a while I took my foot off the pedal and thought I shouldn’t let other things distract from my work at Coffey.
However, my connection to AZLera and the project in Mozambique was very personal, and having been back a number of times and being given the responsibility to lead the programme, I found it hard to let things fall away, especially after everything that we had invested into the project.
The moment of truth was realising that it was possible to combine the two roles and that despite having very different levels of intervention, I would never be satisfied just doing one without the other, and they are in many ways mutually beneficial.
My planning involved structuring my time to allow me to stay on top of AZLera work, whilst doing a full time job.
I also knew that I needed a team to support me who shared AZLera’s philosophy and could take the organisation forward with me. As with all types of work, it is about finding a way to get things done in the most efficient way, and slowly but surely we are getting there.
The organisation has been making great strides in the last couple of years, so it is a very exciting time to be involved!
The best part of this is being involved in work that I enjoy, find stimulating, and is having a positive impact. Coffey’s work in Afghanistan has been well received by the international community and Afghan government, especially in the field of monitoring and evaluation in Helmand Province, which is hugely rewarding to be involved in.
My work with AZLera is far more personal – I know the potential of the students and without AZLera they would in all likelihood never get into further education that we hope will allow them to make something substantial of their life that will benefit their community and the country as a whole.
The worst bit is knowing that AZLera could achieve so much more with increased time and resources. Also, working from London on a project that is based on a small island in the Indian Ocean means that we are constantly battling communication problems - whether it is internet or telephone network, but I am slowly learning to accept this after 4 years!
Prioritise on what really matters and don’t let a few failures or set-backs put you off – if you really want to make something happen, there will be a way.
Find like minded people who have the same approach to you and make it happen together!
Previously the http://www.idealist.org/" rel="nofollow">Idealist website was a great resource for us in finding volunteers for the project in Mozambique.
I now also owe a huge amount of gratitude to ‘Escape the City’ who helped AZLera find our latest ‘in-country project manager’ - thank you for all your help!