Nov 2, 2015
A Chat with Marion Kihori, AWARD’s senior operations and administration officer

Marion Kihori’s compassion is liberally shared across AWARD.  Her involvement with fellows and mentors is marked by her pragmatic approach to their logistical needs. It is in taking care of the fellows and mentors that Marion takes care of the program.

2016 marks the ninth year of her dedicated service as the administration and operations, Senior Officer for AWARD. Her tenure in office has been marked by tremendous highlights and changes having joined AWARD at the onset. Marion’s professionalism is an imprint to the organization and successes of the administration docket at AWARD.

What is your typical day like?

My work involves providing logistical, operational and administrative support not only to these stakeholders, but to AWARD staff as well. Hence on any one typical day, I conduct diverse activities like support to the Director in planning her day, attending and rapporteuring in meetings and providing travel logistics.

AWARD has a heavy calendar of activities, some preplanned and others are requests received on an ad hoc basis.  I’m a methodical person, though I am also flexible to accommodate short notice requests. I plan each activity to the smallest detail. I do not have a routine schedule, though I prefer to concentrate on responding to emails and being behind my desk in the early morning hours.


You were one of the first members of the AWARD program back in 2008. What were the early days like and what did you expect back then?

It was exciting to welcome other colleagues as they joined me in AWARD. Luckily for me, I was not new to the ICRAF campus, our host organization, as I had worked here previously. We were a lean team of five staff members for the first two years. With such a small team expected to deliver the many fellowship activities, we were very cohesive. I realized fast enough that I needed to support the program in more areas than just administrative tasks and in so doing, I learnt how to be a jack of all trades. We were on a fast lane, delivering workshops from one country to the other. What I remember about that time was that I had no personal life. Luckily, I did not have small children and my last daughter was in a boarding school, and hence I could put in long hours to my work. Looking back I wish there was time to pause, rest and reflect, but the more we delivered, the more AWARD became popular and more requests to partner with us became the norm. The feedback from our fellows, mentors and fellow mentees on how we had impacted their lives was good enough to keep me going.

How has your role evolved through the years?

Over the years and with additional administrative staff members, I have released most of the operational tasks, management of workshops, and I am now offering more strategic support to the program. I now have staff that I supervise and this has given me an opportunity to learn supervisory skills. I am happy to be part of this internationally recognized program. These last nine years of working for AWARD have been the most exciting in my career.

What has been your highlight of working with AWARD and what impact has this had on your life?

Being part of the change agents to the continent’s agricultural environment is one of my highlights. Working closely with our fellows, has made us into one large family that cuts across formal relationships. This makes me thankful to the program, as my networks across Africa have expanded.

I have learnt to give the best. It is in delivering our best that we impact our fellows for them to impact Africa. There was one time during one of the courses, our fellows insisted on meeting the whole AWARD team so as to thank us for doing a good job. It is such tokens of appreciation that are imprinted in my mind, and make up beautiful memories.

AWARD has sensitized me on the importance of empowering the African women in all sectors of agriculture. We need to equip the women scientists on gender responsive agriculture so that they are catalysts for change not only on the national and regional arena, but also internationally. Something special happens when we support women and girls: families prosper, communities thrive and entire countries become stronger and more resilient.

Achieving all our milestones during the first and second phases of our time has been the highlights of my time with the program.

What advice can you give to young adults contemplating on joining a career in the agriculture sector?

I encourage the young adults that agriculture is now a career to go for, and not only does it offer room for growth and innovation, it is also rewarding in terms of financial gains– agribusiness. Our educational sector needs to put more emphasis on science based subjects especially agriculture.

I would like to see the agricultural development for Africa being led and enriched by the contributions from young, capable, confident scientists who have gender responsive solutions within reach.



African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.

Email: awardqueries@cifor-icraf.org | Tel: +254 (0) 20 722 4242