As part of ActionAid's 'Working Lives' blog series, we asked staff to share their experiences. Here, ActionAid's Evaluation and Accountability Officer at ActionAid International Drew Ritchie talks about taking a wide range of roles. Meanwhile Programme Funding Manager Tricia Cassidy story shares her humanitarian ideals.
Drew Ritchie, Evaluation and Accountability Officer, ActionAid International
‘I first joined ActionAid UK as an intern, before quickly moving into a permanent role in Executive Support. After that I decided to apply for a year-long VSO placement at an organisation supporting blind people in India – it was great to bring what I had learnt at ActionAid UK and apply it at a smaller organisation in a developing country,’ explains Drew.
‘ActionAid is an interesting organisation, politically well-positioned and with a good reputation. I really enjoyed working here, so when I returned to the UK I was pleased to come back.
A passionate and creative place to work
‘Since my return I have been working in the Evaluation and Accountability team in the International Secretariat, an area that really interests me. I’ve also taken on extra responsibility by covering a more senior role whilst a permanent person was recruited.
‘I am lucky enough to visit our country teams and provide training. Due to our federal structure, it is possible to work for a credible international development organisation without living abroad.
‘ActionAid is a vibrant place to work; my colleagues and I are passionate and creative about what we do. There is scope to find things that interest you and develop skills that benefit you and the organisation.’
Tricia Cassidy, Programme Funding Manager – ECHO, ActionAid UK
‘It sounds cheesy but I always wanted to save the world – my career at ActionAid has allowed me to travel, work with people around the world and work in humanitarian funding. I started six and a half years ago in an admin role in ActionAid International, then moved into fundraising project management and now work as a Programme Funding Manager at ActionAid UK.
‘There are lots of training opportunities and we have regular discussions about career development. I have taken training to build my confidence, as I have to share information with people across the Federation – courses are also a good way to meet people and build relationships with them.
‘There are lots of opportunities to support the work of the whole Federation, beyond your own job role. I have done a fundraising skydive, been on ‘End poverty’ marches and dressed as a banana to raise awareness for a Fairtrade campaign. This all keeps me motivated.
‘I’ve also been the co-chair of ActionAid’s Fun Squad, a group of employees who organise monthly social activities to bring people together and try different things. We organised yoga classes, a book club, Christmas parties, a choir and lots more – all ideas from colleagues.’
John Monks, Trustee — ActionAid UK
‘At ActionAid we have an incredible story to tell about how we empower people out of poverty. We are looking at how we can improve the way we use digital technologies to tell this story and engage as many people as possible with our work.
Using digital technology to deliver our strategy
‘We consider questions such as ‘how should we talk about ourselves and what we do?’; ‘how do we communicate more visually?’ and ‘how do we campaign and on what issues?’ This is a complex area and it’s good to be able to use my background in digital strategy to help guide our approach. This helps the board to support the executive team and hold them to account for how they use digital technology to deliver the ActionAid UK strategy (pdf).
‘I’m excited to be part of an organisation that has taken on the challenges of a federal structure, using proven techniques to engage and enable local people. We make a long-term commitment to supporting them as they solve their own problems. As a new trustee, I’m looking forward to visiting a country programme later in the year to see our work in action.’