Introducing Krystelle Lochard, Head of Partnerships at Save the Children Germany. She talks about the important skills to have to manage relationships with partners and to lead a team towards a common vision, what working abroad has taught her, and what personally drives her in her career.
Interview by Tessa Robinson
You’ve been with Save the Children for approximately 7 years, the last 5 years as a Team Lead. Could you describe a little more about your current role as Head of Partnerships at Save the Children Germany and how you ended up in the non-profit sector?
I started with Save The Children about seven years ago, and I'm now heading the partnerships team. We focus mainly on fund acquisition. In the non-profit sector, an organisation like Save the Children looking at human rights and children's rights worldwide needs funding to be able to fulfil its mission, and we get our funding from private and public entities. The work I am doing is about looking for the right partners to support us to achieve change and a better situation for children in need.
I started my career in Brussels as a policy analyst, working on EU policy. After this, I took up a role in Berlin with a small NGO where I worked on development through sports, which included working with children and looking at how sports can empower them. This was a very enriching experience because it was building the organization from scratch, getting partners to understand development through sports, which was not well known at that time. I then joined Save the Children in 2015, which is a bigger entity with a larger capacity to scale up and have a greater reach, with about 100 offices worldwide.
As Head of Partnerships, you are responsible for relationship management between donors and partners. Could you describe the skills and personal qualities you feel are important, both in managing a team and in managing external partnerships successfully?
I think that, to manage partnerships well, you need to be an analyst first and foremost, observing the trends within your sector and the strategies of your partners and potential partners, always keeping the big picture in mind for your organisation. At Save the Children, this means focusing on the needs of children around the world. My role involves looking at different policies and governmental priorities and bringing those different strategies and objectives together. For this, you need good knowledge of the sector in which you are working. Last year, for example, Germany put in place a Supply Chain Act, which has had a large impact on the private sector since companies had to comply with human rights norms across their whole supply chain. We had to ask ourselves some important questions, like how could we work with this given the impact for our private sector partners? How could we support our partners, coordinate between them and this policy, and what could we contribute? In our work we also pay great attention to what a new policy means for the children in the sourcing countries. For this, good analysis is needed, as well as an understanding of partners, to harmonise different objectives and needs. These are important qualities in my role. As a team leader, it is also necessary to set clear priorities for the team, to help people understand the vision and where the decisions are coming from. This is key to be able to bring the team on the same journey and empower people to join in.
To manage partnerships well, you need to be an analyst first and foremost, observing the trends within your sector and the strategies of your partners and potential partners, always keeping the big picture in mind for your organisation.
You have studied and worked in several countries including Germany, Japan and France. What attracted you to do so and what would you say has been the impact for your career?
My first motivation was curiosity; to see how people live and work in other parts of the world. My stay in Japan at the very beginning of my studies was a very intensive, enriching experience, because things there are so different, including the language. When you work in an international organisation, you need the capacity to understand other people’s perspectives, and working in different countries in Europe and elsewhere can help with that; it can help you understand different positions. When I coordinate on issues, working with colleagues from Tanzania, Guatemala and Myanmar, for example, I need to account for different ways of working, thinking and problem-solving. The fact of having spent time in other parts of the world has, for me, been key in being able to bring different people together on an issue, through a common strategy or vision, but seen from varying perspectives. Experiences abroad can set you up as a leader and be influential in your career, on top of being an opportunity for personal growth. Even if it is not immediately obvious in your everyday work, you always grow through being immersed in different cultures through this change of perspective. Living in a foreign country is just such a unique experience and if you have not done it before, you must!
The fact of having spent time in other parts of the world has, for me, been key in being able to bring different people together on an issue, through a common strategy or vision, but seen from varying perspectives.
Save The Children aims to improve the lives of children across the world through better education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, as well as offering emergency aid in natural disasters, war and other conflicts. What aspect of the non-profit sector are you most driven by? What other issues are you most passionate about, either professionally or personally?
The personal and professional are connected and, as a result, I believe that more equality in the world is possible. I know that the work I am doing is contributing to protecting vulnerable children, families, and people across the world. We face a lot of challenges in the world right now, but it is important not to lose hope that things can get better and that improvements can be made. A more positive outlook can help us to look differently at crises, for example the current situation in Afghanistan, where girls cannot go to school after grade seven. My job is very rewarding when I see cases where access to healthcare becomes possible for families and children where it was not before. We see progress being made on the issue of climate change, which is disproportionally affecting children, and trying to support them with targeted projects and work is a way to improve their situation in the future. This is something I believe in and which I want to contribute to.
You are a Talent of the current WIL Women’s Talent Pool (WTP) leadership programme. Could you explain a little bit about what being part of a network means to you and what value networking represents?
I am very proud to have been selected for the Women’s Talent Pool programme. For me, it has been a wonderful experience to be in close contact with peers and mentors and some new role models. What I find also interesting is how you have different sectors coming together: there are women from the non-profit area, the private sector, academia and the public sector. It is always interesting to see the common challenges in leadership and to look at how to really get a team behind the vision you have. There are also plenty of issues to discuss around the balance between work and family, which are particularly relevant for women. Because some of these issues are cross-sectoral, you can talk about them with women from all industries. At the same time, it is fascinating to see that certain challenges are sector-specific and to have the opportunity to exchange on them with women who are a few years ahead in their career. The WTP programme also allows you to build up a network of experienced contacts to whom you can refer to if you want to discuss a specific challenge or if you want to develop new ideas for your future career. I am convinced that these exchanges with other women are helpful in overcoming challenges and progressing in our careers.
I am convinced that these exchanges with other women are helpful in overcoming challenges and progressing in our careers.
Finally, which living person do you most admire and why?
I can think of two people whom I admire. First is Amani Ballour, who is a Syrian-born doctor. During the Syrian civil war, she ran an underground hospital, saving many people. When she was elected hospital director, she was 29 years old, so very young. People like her bring me hope, particularly looking at the crisis and conflicts and forgotten conflicts the world is currently facing, such as in Yemen and Syria. Amani Ballour has enacted real change and she has faced challenges in doing so. As a woman elected as director of the hospital, there were male patients and even male colleagues who did not want her to have this position. She worked tirelessly under conditions of war and save people, but she also had strong conviction. Amani Ballour is the kind of woman who inspires on my way to work every day and gives me hope when new crises emerge in the sector in which I work.
The second person I would like to mention is Sanna Marin, who has been the Prime Minister of Finland since 2019 and is a working mum. When she became Prime Minister, she had a one-year-old daughter and was 34, so also very young. She has several ministers in her cabinet who are women as well. She posted pictures of herself before becoming Prime Minister, when she was already a politician, where she was breastfeeding her daughter. She highlights challenges women often face in combining a career and a family. In her case, she has not only had a career, but a very successful one. She is very ambitious and at the same time is a mother and takes care of her child. For me, she is someone who tries to set standards for women to be free both to pursue a career and take care of their families, which is possible now and even the standard, I hope, for the next generation.
Video edited by Marella Ricketts