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Staff Feedback

LHQ Staff Feedback

Petros Persad

Gap Year Travel Sales Consultant

January 2011 - July 2011

I initially joined Frontier as an Events & Marketing Intern having already completed a BSc Hons in Zoology. I already had some experience working in the field both before and during University on national and international research and conservation projects and this role gave me a greater insight into the inner workings of an NGO. From the beginning you are thrown in at the deep end and I learnt not just how the events team works but how the organisation ran as a whole. I was involved in many different areas from booking school talks and careers fairs to searching for new potential partners in the field.

Six months later I was then offered the role of Gap Year Travel Consultant which allowed me to use my skills gained from my internship and broaden my knowledge further by advising volunteers about Frontier’s projects and preparing them for the trip of a lifetime. The position also allowed me a greater insight into the workings of Frontier’s projects including research, volunteer management & operations.

I am now preparing to utilise all these skills that I have learnt in the office and use them in the field as an Assistant Research Officer on the Madagascar Wildlife Conservation project. I am incredibly excited about this project as studying and researching wildlife in Madagascar is a dream come true. In spite of this I will still miss working in London HQ due to the diversity of the work and people that you speak to on a day to day basis. Working there like nowhere else as well thanks to the amazing people that I have worked with, both member of staff and interns, throughout my time here.

Neil Cook

Partner Projects Manager

The desire to pursue a career in the NGO environment led naturally to Frontier's London HQ. Beginning as Volunteer Coordinator, I took up the role of Partner Projects Manager six months later and after nearly two years in London HQ I find myself on the verge of moving to the Frontier Fiji Marine project in the role of Principal Investigator to continue my love affair with all things marine.

My time in the London HQ has been extremely valuable, rewarding, eye opening and even fun (most of the time!). With a good amount of field experience under my belt I felt it was important to gain an understanding and working knowledge of the operational and administrative side of an NGO, which meant swapping the beach for the office, and now feel this is something I have achieved.

It is rare that any two days are the same in London HQ, which certainly makes it an interesting, exciting and dynamic environment to work in, and you often find yourself working on projects you didn’t imagine you would be – all great experience! I would say that Frontier most definitely gives you a great opportunity to pursue as much work as you want to take on, and the opportunity to play a significant role in the operations of a well established NGO, in whatever capacity that may be. You will be encouraged to work independently as well as merge into the team from day one!

I definitely look back on my time in London HQ with fondness and have been lucky to meet some great people along the way, all part of the Frontier network! For those wishing to launch their career, whether that’s conservation, community development or almost anything else, Frontier could be the perfect platform from which to do so. Overall I don’t think there’s too much I would change, and I can definitely say I made the right decision to come here 21 months ago!

Dr. Elise Belle

Research & Development Manager

November 2009 - January 2011

After a PhD in Evolutionary Biology and several years spent in academia, I decided to make a more direct contribution to conservation and worked for a small marine conservation NGO in Madagascar. Upon returning in the UK, I joined Frontier as Research and Development Manager, where I’ve been in charge of overseeing all the scientific aspects of our conservation projects. I’ve been liaising with our local and international partners, writing scientific publications alongside our senior field scientists and grant applications to support and expand the scope of our current projects.

My work at Frontier has been very diverse and demanding. I thoroughly enjoyed working with all our highly dedicated and friendly staff members, both in the field and in London, including paid staff but also interns who play a very significant role at Frontier. Remotely managing the research done by our teams in the field has been a challenge at times, but has also been a very rewarding experience. Several reports, peer-reviewed publications, and management recommendations have indeed been produced as a result of the excellent work carried out by our field scientists, raising awareness and providing advice on a number of conservation issues. Another particularly difficult task has been to keep track of all the different reports and make sure that deadlines were met.

This definitely allowed me to improve my organisation and time management skills. Finally, I really enjoyed travelling around the country to deliver talks and workshops to a wide range of university students, not only presenting the great work Frontier is doing, but also giving the students advice on careers in conservation and development, and develop their critical thinking on topics such as participatory ecotourism.

I will now be moving on but will remain in the conservation and development sector. I am taking up a new position at the UNEP-WCMC in Cambridge and hope that I will be able to use the various skills I developed at Frontier to make a significant contribution to the project.

Sam Fox

Head of Operations at Frontier Headquarters

May 2008 - January 2011

I first came to Frontier in May 2008, just one week after returning from an epic two and a half year adventure around the Far East, South East Asia and Australasia. While travelling I had used my TEFL qualification to work and volunteer in a variety of different countries and settings and had discovered a real passion for the volunteering world. Having already had some contact with Frontier I naturally looked to them as soon as I came back to see if there were any roles available in the London Office. One week later I was sitting at my new desk as Volunteer Coordinator!

In my first few months as Volunteer Coordinator I loved speaking to all the new and excited volunteers preparing for their travels and advising them on what they needed to take and how to fill in their visa applications. I also took over the TEFL side of things and used my knowledge and practical experience to update and revamp the TEFL programme. One area I really found I could make a difference in was the organisation of the Partner Projects, which were at this point fairly new. At the end of 2008 with the previous Partner Projects Manager moving on I saw my opportunity to really throw myself into this and moved into the role.

The Partner Projects Manager role was exciting, satisfying and stressful at times! I really enjoyed working with Frontier’s huge variety of overseas partners, helping them organise and plan effectively for upcoming volunteer placements. However I really found my calling re-organising things at Frontier’s end to ensure more efficient systems for managing partners, preparing volunteers, collecting volunteer information and ensuring information and updates from the projects themselves are quickly disseminated to the relevant people. I also spent time with individual partners helping them improve their efficiency, understanding of what volunteers require and building their capacity to offer more and better volunteer placements. I completely lost count of how many new projects I helped to set up!

Once I had finished sorting things out in the Partner Projects department I started to plan to go out to the field with Frontier, to run some of the field projects and get some more practical experience. But before I could start packing I was asked to move into the Overseas Operations department as Head of Operations to oversee the organisational development, systems reviews and day to day management of this department. This was a role I felt I was made for and I eagerly embraced the challenge of overseeing both the operations and development of all of Frontier’s Group Projects. This included all the research programmes as well as the teaching, community and eco-tourism projects so there has never been a dull moment.

Since October 2010 I have been busy reviewing and updating reporting systems and operational procedures, bringing systems into line across all of Frontier’s projects and offices. I have set up and cemented new projects in Ghana, Costa Rica and Kenya, gained British Standards Compliance for all of Frontier’s group projects and visited projects in Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya. I’ve also been busy opening and closing offices, moving camps, managing donor funded projects, sending random pieces of equipment all over the world, and getting them sent back, training new staff, gaining Edexcel accreditation for and launching a new TEFL BTEC, launching and running social media campaigns, reinvigorating relationships and contacts, reviewing the overall strategy of the organisation and finalising the content management system of our new website – not to mention overseeing the constant challenges of the day to day operations of the field projects (please don’t mention compressors to me, ever!).

So, it’s been an incredibly busy, productive and satisfying year. There have been times when I’ve felt like my whole life has been taken over by Frontier and times when I’ve wished it would never end. Nowhere else could I have dreamed of gaining the breadth and depth of experience that I have in all areas of NGO, project and operations management here at Frontier. Nowhere else could I have met the fantastic, committed and motivating people that I have, including the staff and interns in the London office, field staff, partner organisations around the world, volunteers and ex-Frontier staff – I feel lucky and honoured to have met every last one of them. I realise (and it is often pointed out to me!) that we make sacrifices working in this field, whether they are in terms of finance, time or head space! However, I can honestly say that seeing the passion and enthusiasm of the people working in the conservation and international development world through the window of Frontier has been truly inspiring and makes every night spent worrying about equipment, operations, finance and field staff totally worth it. This is what it’s all about.

Maggie Balaskas

Research and Development Intern May 2009-Oct 2009

Volunteer Co-ordinator November 2009 – December 2010

I joined Frontier as a Research and Development Intern, in the hope that the role would broaden my knowledge of conservation field research and project management. Having a BSc Hons in Animal Science and previous research experience in both developed and developing counties definitely gave me the grounding and understanding to get into the role and gain everything I could from it.

Life as an intern at LHQ is a challenge and you need to be prepared to get thrown into the deep end, which is why having you own initiative is really important. This is the perfect opportunity to work closely with the other LHQ staff and take charge of your own individual projects. Everyday is different and as well as being in the heart of the office there are endless opportunities to travel around the country to present school talks and take part at university events, it was this that gave me a new confidence in public speaking which I found a vital skill to have in this sector.

My 6 month internship opened the door to a salaried role at Frontier as Volunteer Co-ordinator, making me responsible for supporting all participants heading out to Frontier Group projects. Initially the role was extremely challenging, however I gained an invaluable number of new skills and extensive knowledge of oversees logistics in addition to improving my ability to multi-tasks [again a must have for the role]. Despite some stressful times I fully enjoyed my time at LHQ and having a brilliant team to work alongside brought a lot of fun to the role.

During the summer I was asked to travel to Goa with Ashtead Youth Group for just under one month as their In-Country Project Co-ordinator. It was an amazing trip, incredibly hard work, but amazing and my skills to problem solve and improvise were well used. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the project, I was overwhelmed to see how much the participants took away from the experience and I was privileged to work alongside them.

I am now preparing to head out to Tanzania as Project Co-ordinator for Frontier’s Marine and Teaching projects in January 2011. This is something which I am incredibly excited about and have been aspiring towards since I submitted my application for the Research and Development internship 19 months ago. Without the invaluable experience I gained from both working in LHQ and the trip to Goa I would not have been offered this amazing opportunity. Here’s hoping my time in Tanzania will lead to more exciting adventures in the future!

Joanna French: Overseas Operations Manager

November 2009 - November 2010

I joined Frontier shortly after completing my MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College. Prior to my MSc I had been working within the marketing communications industry for a number of years and was looking to combine my business experience with my passion for conservation. The Overseas Operations Manager role at Frontier enabled me to do just that!

For the past year I have been running all the day to day operations for Frontiers group projects in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Fiji, Madagascar & Tanzania. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable, although at times, a stressful experience! Juggling the needs of the different projects does require amazing organisation skills and the ability to react quickly to any situation. Each and every day is different and rising to the challenges that crop up is something that keeps the job really interesting. It’s been fun working with a group of likeminded individuals and ensuring that I’ve recruited great field staff and seeing them grow into their positions and move the overseas projects forward has been incredibly satisfying.

I’m now moving on to work on my own projects, but I’m sure I will always keep an eye on what’s happening with the Frontier group projects and will avidly await the publications and outcomes of the research work that is being carried out across the various locations.