New WFP head reveals first priority task

Ertharin Cousin, new executive director of the World Food Program. Photo by: Giulio Napolitano / ©FAO

To listen and learn. That’s what Ertharin Cousin said will be her first line of business in her role as new executive director of the World Food Program.

Cousin, in a recent conversation with WFP staff members, said she will organize a “rapid organizational assessment” over the next few weeks to identify issues plaguing the program.

“My goal is that by the June executive board meeting, we should know where we’re going,” Cousin said. “By the November meeting, we should know how we’re going to get there. And in five years we’ll be able to say we have made a significant difference for our beneficiaries.”

WFP field staff can also expect more training under Cousin. Field staff, she said, is the “backbone of WFP” and should be empowered in order to effectively implement the program’s projects. As for boosting the number of female WFP staff members, Cousin said she does not believe in “putting people in jobs to meet numbers.” She emphasized the importance of quality employees and urged WFP to “look a little harder” to hire qualified women.

Cousin officially assumed her role as WFP executive director April 5. She succeeds Josette Sheeran, who joined the World Economic Forum as vice-chairwoman and managing board member following the end of her WFP term.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.