OpEx Awardees 2020

OpEx Awardees 2020

We were delighted to announce Humentum's Operational Excellence Award winners at our OpEx365 Launch Event. Our awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the vital role of colleagues who contribute to positive impact in the global development sector. Missed the kick-off? Don't worry! Keep reading to learn more about these extraordinary individuals and teams who have showcased innovation, collaboration, and collective and lasting impact through their strong operations. We also honored one Industry Partner and one Humentum Learning Services Partner for their continued commitment to our members.

This year’s winners were chosen from nearly 50 nominations submitted by Humentum member organizations. Nominators were asked to provide a detailed nomination demonstrating how their colleagues embodied operational excellence.

Check out our members' inspiring stories and nomination videos below! 

OpEx Awardee: USAID/Honduras TMS Team, ACDI/VOCA


It goes without saying that COVID-19 has affected us all. In Honduras all but essential businesses closed. Public, private and NGO actors all scrambled to provide relief measures to troubled sectors and to coordinate responses effectively to facilitate recovery. ACDI/VOCA’s Honduras Transforming Market Systems Activity Team's extraordinary efforts brought together diverse, and at-odds, public and private sector actors, ensuring a coordinated response to the crisis.

For example, the team facilitated national-level working groups to help public and private sector actors engage in dialogue and coordinate action to cope during these testing times. Their success highlights the impact of working through local systems instead of around-or despite - them). The team’s initiatives could have been managed by the project alone, but not with the same scale or impact. Mobilizing public and private actors requires credibility, skill, hard work, and diligence. This approach is key to achieving lasting systemic change in local systems.

OpEx Awardee: Samar El-Yassir, Anera


The October 2019 uprising in Lebanon combined with the more recent pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the country's economy and social fabric. Anera had to adapt to meet the rapidly changing needs among an increasingly vulnerable population. Anera's Country Director, Samar El-Yassir, met these crises head-on to help local communities and those most affected. Amid political and economic unrest, and with hundreds of businesses shutting down, Samar brought together the program and regional leaders to discuss the implications of these crises and the need to adapt.

As a result, Anera's vocational training shifted from job skills for industries no longer hiring, to skills that could provide revenue in light of the growing humanitarian crisis. Today, the Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese youth in Anera’s program are learning essential skills while earning an income and supporting their communities. Overall, the speed and effectiveness of Anera's response, led by Samar, has led to increased support for the organization's programs. Through Samar's inspiring leadership, staff know that they can, and are, making a difference to improve the lives of the people they work to support.

OpEx Awardee: Dr. Petra Kruger, Aurum Institute



Several obstacles stand in the way of sustainable impact when implementing initiatives to strengthen health systems. This includes interventions that do not address the capacity and skills of middle and facility-level managers. These are the people who will carry the work forward once the development organization has moved on. Dr. Petra Kruger, Senior Technical Advisor at Aurum Institute, designed and delivered a unique Management Development Program which equips Primary Healthcare Facility Managers with practical skills in managing and running a clinic or health center.

Trained, confident, and capable managers of primary healthcare facilities are critical to longer-term outcomes of all ongoing clinical and public health activities. Through Dr. Kruger and her team’s dedicated efforts, Aurum Institute facility managers are now empowered with the skills and knowledge required to fulfill their work. This means other efforts for public health good are much more likely to be sustainable.

OpEx Awardee: Theresa Decker, Samaritan's Purse


Early last year, Samaritan's Purse recognized the need for a talent pipeline that would provide the organization with high-quality, mission-driven staff to fill critical positions. Theresa Decker, Manager of Learning and Performance Support led the creation of an Apprenticeship Program, and immediately designed a change management plan revolving around a curriculum and program development process. The program has accelerated the processfor employee onboarding and job training. As with most employee onboarding, Samaritan's Purse does not typically see a return on investment until the six to nine-month mark. This is too slow for the rapidly evolving world of humanitarian relief, where staffing needs can change from one month to the next.

The organization now sees a return in its core competency as an organization: disaster response. If apprentices have mastered disaster response, they are well-equipped to adapt and grow in the other ways the organization demands. The impact of this program goes beyond just teaching technical skills in a classroom; employees must also grasp the mission and ethos that drives their identity as Good Samaritans. This identity doesn't show up on a post-test or performance review, but it does show up when tested by fire. COVID-19 tested each apprentice, and with the skills they learned, they thrived.

OpEx Honorable Mention: Project Insights Team, Catholic Relief Services


Project Insight is a massive business transformation effort designed to improve CRS’s operational excellence. CRS' Project Insight Team challenged everyone to think more creatively about HR, Finance and Supply Chain processes, working tirelessly over three years on a cloud-based integrated system. When the team went live during the global pandemic, they had developed a detailed process to ensure a smooth "go-live" with no surprises and few significant issues. They also pivoted to create remote training sessionsand a unique set of office hour sessions to support their colleagues.

The impact is clear to see. As an example, CRS ran a COVID-19 employee engagement survey within days instead of a month or more. CRS now enjoys an accurate and accessible global HR system. Through innovation, creativity, agility and continuous improvement, the organization has come together as one agency through technology, systems and processes.

Partner Awardee: Learning Pool


Learning Pool is vital to the work Humentum does, helping those across the sector reach their full potential. There are many reasons why this platform is so powerful. But what we value most is the ability to efficiently deliver engaging content while also driving the peer-to-peer learning and idea exchange that is often absent from online courses. This enables us to train groups as communities and not just as a block of people.

The team supports our mission wholeheartedly and are always on hand to help us make the most of the platform and deliver the best possible learning experience. Without their valuable support, we would not have been able to reach thousands of learners over the last 12 months with dedicated instructor-led courses. As well as supporting Humentum, Learning Pool provides dedicated internal learning platforms for organizations, including Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, and Mercy Corps. Through their assistance, these organizations are improving staff performance and organizational delivery.

Industry Partner Awardee: Sage Intacct




Since implementing Sage Intacct, one of our members has eliminated thousands of hours of manual work, and the finance team has saved half a million dollars per year while shortening its monthly close by more than 30%. The team now closes their books five days faster, freeing up a week each month they can spend on verifying and analyzing the data. Another member was also able to cut a week from their close process using Sage Intacct.

Both of these members are better able to report accurate, timely data back to their donors, which increases trust in their organizations and demonstrates that they are effective stewards of the millions of dollars they receive from donors. Today, nonprofits are under a new level of pressure for transparency and accountability. On limited resources, they must find a way to achieve – and measure – successful outcomes. Partnering with Sage Intacct has resulted in increased credibility, accountability, and donor confidence.