Warwick Business School MBA Marwa Bouka has been awarded this year's Said Foundation Alumni Achievement Prize for her efforts to co-ordinate emergency food for people affected by uprisings in the Middle East.
The Said Foundation's aim in the Middle East is to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in its priority countries of Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon and this award is made to a former scholar of the Foundation who has made an outstanding contribution to their field and to development in the Middle East. Marwa's MBA at warwick was supported by the Said Foundation
Marwa, who is Syrian by birth, is currently working in Libya as Project Manager for the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP). She graduated from the Warwick MBA programme in 2009 and since 2011 has been responsible for co-ordinating emergency assistance to more than 1.5million people badly affected in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, operating under conditions of extreme pressure, restricted resources and potentially personal danger.
The core of UNWFP programmes is the assessment of food security and vulnerability in any location in order to identify those most in need. This is followed by the design of the appropriate response (project) to assist them. The project is always implemented in collaboration with different international and national partners which requires close monitoring of progress against objectives and performance indicators.
As is expected, managing humanitarian emergencies come with tough challenges because of the rapidly changing and uncertain situations. “You have very little control over the environments and the response has a critical impact on the lives of many people. You have to reach the needy at the right time, the right way and in the most cost effective manner. On top of that your plans need to be flexible enough to shift completely, expand or downsize as the situation evolves”, said Marwa.
We asked her how the Warwick MBA helped prepare her for such a demanding role and she replied “I think the Warwick MBA has built up my critical thinking and decision making process. It also contributed a lot to the development of my team building skills and how to manage to achieve the results.
"I do reflect a lot on the corporate strategies in non-profit organizations and enjoy comparing it with business strategies. My improved communication skills were a major contributor to the progress I made in my position within my organization.”
Her advice for MBAs who want to work with humanitarian agencies is to take MBA concepts larger than their limited business targeted results and try to deploy them where appropriate in non-profit settings. “Humanitarian assistance gives motivation and self satisfaction which cant be measured in profit or financial gain”, she said.
Marwa is looking forward to developing new and improved methods to deliver a quality service to the UN World Food Program beneficiaries. “The Said Foundation prize was a very appreciated acknowledgement of achievement. In reality, this achievement was driven by the Said foundation, Warwick Business, and the WFP as well. The prize will encourage me to do better and to give more, and I hope that I will invest it with a good return in my country Syria”, she said.
Said Foundation scholars study for a one year Masters degree (either full-time, by research or by distance learning) and are all from one of the Foundation's target countries, which are Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. The University of Warwick International Office offers five Said Foundation joint scholarships which cover up to 20% of the tuition fee per scholar (not more than £4,000 per scholar or £20,000 in total). The Foundation pays the remainder of the tuition fee and a maintenance grant.
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