Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. According to Byanyima, her background as aeronautical engineer helped her develop strong analytical skills. Photo by: personal collection

Uganda’s first female aeronautical engineer, Winnie Byanyima became executive director of Oxfam International in April.

Prior to taking up her current role, she served as director of the U.N. Development Program’s gender team and previously headed the African Union’s Directorate of Women, Gender and Development.

As an engineer, Byanyima is used to working in the “paradigm of optimization” and is adamant that a new roadmap will help make the organization both more efficient and effective. Indeed, she is confident that, under her stewardship, the implementation of a series of reforms will help the international NGO in its work to support active citizenship, fight poverty and tackle inequality.

Three months into the job, Devex caught up with Byanyima on a trip to Brussels to discuss Oxfam’s first confederation-wide strategic plan, the rollout of its single management structure and an ambitious set of “change goals” to counter poverty and inequality. 

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Richard Jones@richard_devex

Richard oversees editorial content for campaigns and media partnerships at Devex. Previously an associate editor, he covered the full spectrum of development aid in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, supervising a team of correspondents and writers, penning articles and conducting high-level video interviews at events across the EMEA region. Currently based in Barcelona, Richard brings to bear 12 years of experience as an editor in institutional communications, public affairs and international development. His development experience includes stints in the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Ecuador.


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