Home>Katherine, Grants Officer with Afghanaid
Katherine, Grants Officer with Afghanaid
What is your role and main responsibilities?
My role is situated within Afghanaid’s Programme Development and Resource Mobilisation team, and I am responsible for ensuring compliance with donor grants and contracts. My position involves close coordination with various departments in the organisation and I work with colleagues from finance, compliance, and programme implementation to ensure that projects run smoothly and adhere to all contractual obligations. This often involves writing partnership agreements if the project is being implemented with a partner or partners, supporting project managers by reviewing and revising reports and written deliverables before they are sent to a donor, and flagging and supporting the resolution of any potential issues that may arise during a project. I’m also the donor communications focal point for several projects and ensure that lines of communication are clear and relationships with donors are positively maintained. Because my role was newly created with Afghanaid, I’ve gotten the opportunity to really make it my own and put in place tools and processes to ensure the proper organisation and management of report deadlines and inputs and adherence to contractual obligations and deliverables.
How did you secure this role?
Freshly out of PSIA, I did the usual desperate job search, applying wherever and to whomever I could. I was looking for a job that would give me practical experience in the humanitarian/development sector and I found a position with Afghanaid in Kabul as the Personal Assistant to the Managing Director. I held the Personal Assistant position for a year, and it was an incredible opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of an NGO and gain experience and confidence in a supportive work environment, learning more about what areas of work I was interested in. When Afghanaid opened a new position- the Grants Officer role, I applied for it and was selected, and I’ve been doing that job for the past 10 months.
What is the most fascinating and/or surprising aspect of your role?
I find the most fascinating aspect of the role to be that it is ever-evolving. I always need to be on my toes and ahead of issues before they arise, keeping track of a wide array of information and details at once, and maintaining dynamic relationships with donors and colleagues to keep everyone working cohesively together. I also have a lot of independence in the position and the opportunity to take initiative where I see fit to solve problems or fill gaps in the organisation. As you could imagine, working in Kabul also presents regular surprises in an ever-changing operating context so we need to be prepared for the unexpected and be able to adjust projects as needed to continue operations.
How did your PSIA experience help you with the role?
My time at PSIA certainly prepared me well for a position that involves juggling many competing priorities. Focusing on so many courses at once at PSIA forced me to become superb with time management and completing high-quality work products in a limited timeframe, which I now do regularly with Afghanaid. At PSIA I was also supported in honing my critical thinking and analytical abilities which have been an asset in analysing contracts and writing partnership agreements. Some of the very practical courses in my degree on humanitarian or development project management also introduced me to key project documents- budgets, logical frameworks, and theories of change, which I now use daily with Afghanaid.
What advice would you give to others?
Be open to opportunities that present themselves to you, and search widely for those opportunities. I never thought about working in Afghanistan and had never heard of Afghanaid, but I took the chance in embracing the unknowns, and doing so has led to experiences and learning over the past nearly two years that I never would have had otherwise. Leaving school can be a challenging time, wondering what path to take and where you should be heading, but trying something new presents the chance to figure out what your interests and skills are, which gives you the opportunity to see how you can mold your passions into a career.