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United Kingdom / Health / Health specialist

Terri Collins

Mott MacDonald is the evaluation partner for 'Adolescent Girls Empowerment Programme' in Zambia. I visit regularly to assess the progress on these girls.


I love the fact that I am always learning and that every project I work on is different


Why did you choose to join Mott Macdonald?

I was recruited in 2004 to provide technical support to the national HIV/AIDS programme in Zambia. In 2009 I moved to the London office. Since then, I’ve been honing my skills in health sector evaluations.

What is the best thing about your job/role?

I love the fact that I am always learning and that every project I work on is different. My training is in social anthropology, so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to travel the world capturing stories of life from different cultural contexts.

How would you describe the culture of Mott MacDonald?

Vibrant, fun, sometimes tense, often intense – but never dull.

What project will be one you tell your kids about?

I really enjoy our work as the evaluation partner for the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Programme in Zambia. The programme is looking at how life skills education, savings schemes and vouchers for youth-friendly health services combine to supports girls’ empowerment. For our evaluation work, we regularly visit girls in remote rural areas surrounded by African wildlife, or scramble over ditches and rubbish tips to meet girls in squatter camps. Whatever the setting, the energy and enthusiasm of the girls is always inspirational –I would love to bring my own daughter to meet them some day.

Have you been involved in any charities or done any volunteer work, please explain your involvement?

I struggle to find time to devote time to charity work but I strongly believe it’s important to buy a 'Big Issue' magazine every week – and above all, to make eye contact and smile at anyone selling them.

What is your proudest achievement?

I am really proud of the research I did for my PhD in social anthropology in the Karakoram Mountains of Northern Pakistan. The study looked at the meanings of fertility and childbearing among marginalised communities living in mountain deserts –and how these meanings are captured in stories, poetry and traditional songs. Political instability means that few outsiders visit this area, so I feel privileged to have worked there. My daughter is now fascinated by my traditional embroidered hat from the Karakorum Mountains, and loves to hear tales of these distant lands.

If you could have lunch with any three people who would they be and why?

Simon Schama (because he is the wisest, best story-teller I know), Inspector Montalbano (because I love ‘who done its’ and that Italian passion for life always makes me smile) and my Mum (who’s like a real life ‘Mrs Brown’ and brings down-to-earth Irish banter to every conversation). We’d dine on a mixture of Kosher, Italian and Irish dishes and set to on solving the problems of the world before they serve liqueurs…

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