Land O'Lakes Inc., International Development Division

Land O’Lakes Inc., International Development Division

Currently working as Regional Manager Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and IT with Land O’Lakes International Development (IDD) which is not-for-profit division of Land O’Lakes Inc. (a fortune 200 company -2013). IDD globally implements development projects for donors like USAID and USDA. IDD has implemented over 75 development projects, including Food for Education and Food for Progress projects in more than 26 countries around the globe.

I support multiple projects in Asia, Middle East and North Africa; most of these projects focus on livelihood development and supporting business enterprises in developing economies. My job is to put in place the processes, systems and tools to collect and analyse relevant data to make informed decisions and steer the program for maximum efficiency and impact. As Global M&E resource, I get involved in the projects from proposal development stage and continue to work closely with implementation team during work plan development, finalizing Performance Management Plan (PMP) and other stages of the programs. Operating through in-field specialist, Regional M&E ensures implementation of organizational standards and best practices for every project – and also leads mid-term and final evaluations to inform and validate program theory of change, quality of implementation and assess any requirements for course correction.

I am also leading organization’s efforts of developing and rolling out next generation on-line M&E data management system with GIS and business intelligence enabled analysis capabilities.

Previously I worked as Manager Monitoring & Evaluation and IT with  Pakistan ‘Food for Education’ (FFE) Project which was sponsored by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the purpose of promoting female education and health & hygiene awareness among mothers. Unfortunately girls in Pakistan are often not offered same opportunities as their male siblings and thus female literacy rate is only 38% vs. overall 52% for whole Pakistan (2008). The situation is even worse in some rural and backward districts. Jacobabad in Sindh Province was one of those districts where girls participation rate was country’s worst before International Development Division of Land O’Lakes started this project in September, 2010.

Through the FFE, parents were given incentive of free ration to send their girls to schools and then the project ensures, through intervention at various levels, that girls did get quality of education. At the start of project, there were around 8,000 girls studying and only 84 schools were open and functional; by end of third year of the project, more than 45,000 girls had joined the schools and number of schools had reached over 180. IDD provided training to teachers, mobilized parents to be involve in management of schools and brought material improvements (water sources, computer labs, libraries etc.) to the schools. Students were educated on maintenance of health and hygiene, and qualified medical doctors conducts annual medical check-ups.

I contributed to Pakistan FFE by ensuring that project activities take place in time and in an effective manner. I had Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Information Technology and Communication in my portfolio – and supported finance and operations also.

Using my skills in IT and M&E, I developed a Management Information System which could be concurrently accessed by different users for data storage, retrieval and production of customizable analytical reports. The MS-SharePoint based system was used by sub-contractors, field and management staff from different locations. Through this system, project’s Indicator Performance Tracking Table (IPTT) were kept updated and served as management dashboard. Before start of project operations, I developed procedure and policies for M&E, warehousing and distribution of ration. I also prepared Project Management Plan (PMP) and led development of Annual Work Plans. I conducted baseline and mid-term assessments for measuring effectiveness and for learning and improvement of our work.

I made frequent visits the program district – Jacobabad – to meet with students, teachers and parents. And every time I saw them, I could feel how access to education changed their lives. The girls shared their dreams – they wanted to be doctors, social workers and teachers; their teachers adopted interactive teaching styles that they had learnt through trainings, and the parents came to community meetings to show their commitment to a better future for their girls. I witnessed a revolution coming!