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Exclusive interview: Winnie Byanyima

Winnie Byanyima: Engineering change at Oxfam

By Richard Jones19 July 2013

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

In his role as Devex associate editor, Richard Jones covers the full spectrum of development aid in Europe, Africa and the Middle East by conducting high-level interviews, providing analysis and supervising correspondents. Richard, who's currently based in Brussels, brings to bear 10 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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