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Meet Melissa Saad, Operations Manager Extraordinaire

Melissa Saad works on the Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Justice Administration and Management Support (JAMS) project in Monrovia, implemented by IBI, which is working with the Liberian Ministry of Justice to reform its administrative services. When the project launched in 2014, Melissa joined on as an administrative assistant, but was quickly promoted to the role of Office Manager after performing exceptionally and taking advantage of IBI’s education allowance program.

We sat down and asked Melissa about her work.

Q: Tell us a little about your background. How did you come start working with IBI? What drew you to the field of international development?

Melissa: Before coming to IBI, I worked with some very prominent companies over the past years in the areas of administration, inventory, marketing and sales.

When I applied for the Administrative Assistant role, I was interested in the work IBI had been doing in my country over the years, and I wanted to be a part of it. I have a huge passion for analyzing complex organizational problems and I see that there is a need to help make better decisions about Liberia’s growth. Having seen the extensive lack of capacity in so many areas of Liberia’s professional core, I was drawn to the field of international development.

Q: Under IBI’s educational allowance policy, you have enrolled in multiple training courses. What were those courses and how have they helped you to expand your role?

M: I first took a Lean Six Sigma training course that looks at steps for managing an entire organization so that it excels in all dimensions what is most important to the client or stakeholders.

The course I just finished (and received a certificate of excellence in) is on Project Information Management Systems, which has really changed the way I look at the entire project operations and given me a lot of information on how to better face common challenges in project management.

Q: for this latest course in Project Information Management Systems, what kind of content was presented? Is there any new tool or approach that you will be able to apply to your role at INL-JAMS?

M: The Project Information Management Systems course provides a process based approach to manage development project information. The course gives an understanding of the most common processes, tools, techniques, and practices that are necessary to manage information gathered or given. We dealt with so many different methodologies for different cycles and processes, all gearing to a common goal of the importance of information management.

The course helped me see the bigger picture of how information flows through a project, and some common methods to improve that process. There is always a need to put the project’s processes into a framework and structure, therefore avoiding wasted time and effort. This helps to turn information into knowledge, which is then actionable and leads to better informed decision making. Communication and feedback at all stages are essential opportunities for change and improvement.

Learning about this process has inspired me to increase my knowledge and competence, and most of all my aspiration in monitoring and evaluation, which is an essential part of project information management and what I see as my next professional goal. The next course I have signed up for is Project Design, Monitoring & Evaluation, focusing on how to structure an M&E approach in projects to be able to deliver results to clients more effectively.

Q: How has your experience in international development and with IBI prepared you for the next phase in your career?

M: This has been a remarkable journey that has given me an opportunity to learn a lot and inspired me to keep going. By taking advantage of training opportunities while working in this role, I’ve had the opportunity to apply the things I have learned, allowing me to improve my own work. It’s given me a focus that lets me tie together a lot of my professional background, and has given me a mindset of respecting administrative processes to improve the quality of what a project is able to deliver.

Working with IBI has increased my knowledge, competence and aspiration for quality management, M&E and project management. I now understand the value of communication and feedback. I can identify problems and render sound suggestions for improvements.

In short, I would say I am realizing strengths that I did not know I had. I am growing both in knowledge and skills in this position.

Thanks Melissa for sharing, and for all the hard work you do.

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