Two Sides of the Same Coin
Information management (IM) is a core activity of the Logistics Cluster, with Information Management Officers working both in the field and in headquarters in Rome to get reliable and timely logistics information to partners on the ground and around the world. Global IM officers based in HQ form a communications link between field operations and the humanitarian community, maintain standards and continuity across operations, and support IM officers in the field. Field IM officers collect and analyse information, developing information products that are well-timed, accurate and of high quality that are then disseminated to humanitarian stakeholders.
Here we speak to a team of two IM officers both currently in Juba – one field-based and one HQ-based - to better understand their dynamic, what they’ve learned and how they work together to achieve a common goal.
Alicia Stafford, Information Management Officer
Global Logistics Cluster, Rome
‘Lila started as IM officer in South Sudan not long after I started looking after the operation in HQ. I knew she’d worked in CAR previously and like myself, had also interned with the Global IM team in HQ. I remember being told that she was as picky about spelling and grammar as I am, and I instantly knew that we were going to work well together haha!
I really felt like we learned the operation together – myself very much from a distance though – but Lila was always willing to explain what was going on in-country to me and we figured a lot of things out together. I see my main job as making her life as easy as possible, be it through finding better ways to do things, thinking one step ahead about what extra things I can do to reduce the burden on her, or simply just being a friendly ear on the other end of the phone/Skype.
I think the relationship between a field IM officer and their HQ counterpart is really important but sometimes it’s hard to explain. I was really thrilled that we got to show off that dynamic at the Global IM training earlier this year because our differing perspectives based on our experiences really showed that we’re two sides of the same coin and we share the same goal – getting clear, concise and useful information to our partners in the field. We then were both quickly deployed to the Cyclone Idai response – Lila in Mozambique and myself in Zimbabwe – and our relationship gave us a built-in support network as we both experienced working in a sudden onset emergency for the first time.
The opportunity to come here to South Sudan and see first-hand the mammoth Logistics Cluster operation and the incredible work being done by the team here to assist our partners has been so educational and inspirational.'
Seeing the day-to-day reality of Lila’s job is only going to make me a better support to her when I return to HQ and help me to better understand the challenges she faces.
Lila Ricart, Information Management Officer
Logistics Cluster South Sudan
‘Alicia gets things done, and that’s exactly what I need. She is my side kick. Being able to have the mindset of both HQ and the field is not something easy and she has exactly this capacity to shift and click on based on where she is. As my desk support, she has my back, she is flexible, she has empathy and I know I can count on her, at any time.
In the field and with the day to day stress, one of the main difficulties is often as simple as communicating with our colleagues remotely. Smooth relationships and trust really make the difference.
It makes quite a unique friendship to think that an Australian and a French have in common South Sudan and the Cyclone Idai response (and the taste for good wine!).’
To find out more about the Logistics Cluster operation in South Sudan, please see our dedicated operation page.
To learn more about Information Management, complete our online Information Management Induction Training available on our Learning Channel here.