26 December 2019
Category : Interview
“FIIAPP combines the two passions that guide my professional interests“
FIIAPP Secretary General Inmaculada Zamora tells us about her career at FIIAPP and the main challenges she has faced in 2019Photograph of Inmaculada Zamora at the annual EUROsociAL+ Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia (July 2019)
How many years have you been working at FIIAPP and in what roles?
I have been working at FIIAPP since the end of 2008. So I’ve been here for 11 years
I began as an advisor in governance and social cohesion, and coordinated the final phase of EUROsociAL I. Later, I went on to become assistant director, then, among other functions, I led the coordination of the projects and programmes department (ATP). In 2011, once again, I re-directed a more centralized EUROsociAL II, with more leadership from FIIAPP, with excellent results. In 2016 I went into the field (Ghana) to lead a project to fight corruption, and I finally returned to the headquarters as Secretary General in November 2018, just a year ago.
What could you say that the Foundation has contributed to you personally and professionally?
My career had been unfolding between regional development, as an official in my region, Aragon, and international development as a representative of AECID in several countries in Asia and Latin America.
FIIAPP combines the two passions that guide my professional interests as a civil servant: on the one hand, defending the public domain, a conviction in the great impact that public policies and institutions have on the development of peoples; and on the other hand the international dimension of development, the importance and impact of global balances/imbalances on the development of humanity as a whole.
Perhaps I could summarize it in another way by highlighting my commitment to reducing inequalities and, to achieve this, to the existence of strong public (national and international) powers that can adjust the starting imbalances (social, geographical, among others) that the free market sometimes exacerbates.
FIIAPP’s mandate perfectly combines these concerns and makes me feel that I am making a contribution in this regard.
What do you think is the best, most remarkable thing about FIIAPP?
The fact we convert knowledge into development: knowledge is passed on in universities, in classrooms, in conversations in courses and seminars, in studies and analyses, in many ways. It is possessed and passed on by professors, academics, civil servants, experts… Whoever receives it benefits individually from it.
But, if we talk about development, who ensures, and how, that this knowledge is transformative, that it translates into changes in society, changes in policies and institutions that ultimately improve the lives of citizens? Well, that wonderful and unique task falls down to FIIAPP. We select and convey knowledge in such a way that it produces changes and has an impact on the systems and, therefore, on citizens. For those who are familiar with the theory of change, FIIAPP works on causal chains and intermediate results for the expected change to occur.
This is done through public technical assistance methods that involve monitoring all stages of peer learning (between public employees) so that goes beyond knowledge sharing and has an effect on the system, on institutions and policies and finally on citizens.
In your work as Secretary General, what do you think is the best thing about the role? And the worst?
The best thing has been being able to get a complete perspective of the potential that FIIAPP has as a development tool and to be able to visualize improvements that will take advantage of that potential and better organize our knowledge to consolidate it and make it more effective.
But the human resources that FIIAPP has are the best thing about this institution. People who are committed and professional, with values and enthusiasm. At the same time, this is also the most difficult aspect. For me, managing human resources in a specific project for a specific activity is gratifying and satisfying because it is easy to combine energies and passions towards a common goal. The public sector does not have access to the same incentives as the private sector, so these need to be based more on motivation, teamwork and companionship, values, shared passion for what is done, staff involvement in decisions, and so on.
Even so, the “generic” management of human resources seems to me to be one of the most complicated tasks and I admire the people who work in that field because it is tremendously complex
What progress and pending challenges would you highlight this year at FIIAPP?
From an institutional and systemic point of view, the greatest achievement of this stage (2018-2019) for FIIAPP has been its real and coordinated integration into the Spanish public cooperation system.
On substantive issues, FIIAPP has placed greater emphasis on three issues which, although highly strategic, had previously been dealt with almost marginally: gender equality, ecological transition and migration. Some examples of this are the creation of an equality plan; the strengthening of EUROCLIMA+ (regional programme for Latin America); the plan for renewable energies in Cuba; migration projects in Morocco and Latin America, together with IOM and the IDB implementing their facility for migration in the region.
In operational and administrative terms, the extraordinary turnover of temporary project personnel and restrictions on the hiring of permanent staff, despite a small increase in recent years, remain the main risk for FIIAPP. Although technological modernization that will improve productivity is becoming consolidated, the tension on the structure is strong. In methodological terms, I would highlight the effort to install an appropriate and structured knowledge management, which will consolidate FIIAPP’s know-how and help to make visible the added value it brings to the system.
A final reflection?
I would confirm my commitment to the institution and my desire for FIIAPP, making the most of its human resources, to quickly develop its collective intelligence and consolidate a reputation for excellence, quality, model public service, and impacting on public systems to improve people’s lives.
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