Keen to fine-tune his skills and knowledge in USAID contracts and operations, Anwar Chowdhury, a chartered accountant in Bangladesh, applied to our Training Scholarship program toward the end of 2020. Join us as we find out how this program has supported Anwar’s professional development goals this year.
Career and learning
Over the past 30 years, I have worked as a corporate accountant in the development sector. I’m currently a Principal Advisor for Health Financing with ABT Associates, focusing on their Local Health System Strengthening Project (LHSS) in Bangladesh—one of USAID’s flagship programs. My previous experience includes a role with DFID (now FCDO) as their Chief Financial Officer and later Deputy Team Leader for one of Bangladesh’s largest extreme poverty programs. I also worked for Danida for just under 20 years and IPE Global Limited for three and a half years.
I first heard about the scholarship program in November 2020 through Mary Nyokabi, Registration and Outreach Manager at Humentum. At that stage, I had started looking for my next opportunity within USAID-funded projects because I knew some were coming to Bangladesh. A number of projects are implemented under cooperative agreements with NGOs, and others under contracts managed by medium and large international consulting firms. I went through the Humentum training schedule and chose USAID Rules & Regulations: Grants & Cooperative Agreements—a live online workshop—and USAID Contract Management for NGOs, both of which are very relevant to the jobs that interested me.
But these two courses aren’t enough to be a perfect USAID contract and operations expert. I then selected USAID Procurement: Grants & Cooperative Agreements as the third workshop. I thought, I know the system and procedures, so I chose the Financial Management for USAID Funding workshop. I completed all four workshops between December 2020 to April 2021. I received a scholarship for the first two and covered the remaining two from my sources.
Studying online was relatively new to me. In terms of the scholarship, I enjoyed USAID Rules and Regulations and USAID Contract Management for NGOs; both were intensive one-week-long interactive workshops with a lot of homework. The handouts and interactions with the facilitators were amazing. In my evaluation, I graded these two courses with very high marks because of discussions with my fellow participants and the communication with the facilitators—both of which took place on the learning platform.
In late January 2021, I was a bit frustrated not to be selected for one of the jobs under the USAID-funded projects in Bangladesh. I was thinking, if I don’t get a position, how will I apply the knowledge acquired during these workshops? The biggest change happened when an international recruiter asked me if I was interested in a role with one of the USAID-funded flagship programs in Bangladesh. My interview went really well because I had finished the workshops and was up-to-date on USAID rules, regulations, and procedures. I spoke with complete confidence because I could now share and apply what I had learned from Humentum with my new project.
Applying new skills and knowledge
As mentioned previously, at the professional level, I’m disseminating the knowledge I’ve gained from these workshops among my other colleagues working within USAID-funded programs in Bangladesh. Every week we talk about USAID strategies and processes, the challenges we’ve faced in projects, and how we can continue to improve our knowledge to mitigate those challenges.
In my current project, we’re publishing a series of RFPs (request for proposals) and RFQs (request for quotes) for the procurement of goods and services to support various activities of the Government of Bangladesh. As a Principal Advisor of Health Financing, I prepare the RFPs on my own. I’m pleased to share that we have published a number of RFPs to appoint local consultants to support public financial management work, both of which I delivered to the management’s satisfaction.
As a development professional, I believe that people should improve their knowledge and skills by attending courses facilitated by renowned and reputable training institutes like Humentum. In Bangladesh, more than 5,000 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are registered under the NGO Affairs Bureau. I hope that personnel working in the finance, administration, operations, and procurement departments become aware of the high-quality online workshops and are eligible for Humentum’s program.
What learning means to Anwar
Education and learning should be the top priority for professionals. Without learning, a person cannot become a knowledgeable professional. I’m 58, so when I join or attend a seminar or even during discussions, they always give the final call to experienced personnel like me. As such, I need to keep myself updated, especially within the disciplines of my profession. Also, as a senior professional, colleagues and friends working elsewhere within other industries seek advice from me; without continuous study or training, I cannot offer advice to my colleagues and friends. If I want to contribute meaningfully, I have to study, I have to learn, and I have to share. At this stage of life, it is our duty to pass on what we know and learn to the next generation and future managers.
Humentum’s Training Scholarship program subsidizes registration costs to provide equal opportunity for small organizations to work towards operational excellence. Workshops covered under this program include Financial Management for Development Professionals (FMD Pro), Fighting Fraud in NGOs, and more. Please refer to our website for the most current list of available workshops.