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Staff Feedback

LHQ Staff Feedback

Shadia Maali

Overseas Operations Officer

March 2012 – February 2013

I started out at Frontier as an Overseas Operations Intern in March 2012. I really enjoyed my internship; the people, the office and the entire work environment made it an absolutely amazing experience. I enjoyed it so much and was lucky enough to then move into the staff position of Overseas Operations Officer. This was a great opportunity where I got to experience first hand what it takes to keep conservation projects running successfully on a day to day basis. My main responsibilities involved recruiting staff for our field projects and our London and California Headquarters as well as any tasks that are needed to keep the projects running, from the resupply of equipment to budgets. The time I have spent at Frontier’s London HQ has been a fantastic experience due to the brilliant people who work there and I have really learnt a lot from the role. I would recommend working for Frontier to anyone who wants to get going with a career in conservation. Luckily I am going to be continuing my time with Frontier by heading out to South East Asia to lead our Ethical Adventure Trail for 6 months.

Alex Prior

Online Content Editor

June 2011 – Dec 2012

I began life at Frontier as an Online Journalism intern in the summer of 2011. I then moved into the staff position of Online Content Editor where my main responsibilities involved editing Frontier’s gap year blog, as well as controlling our social media presence across Facebook, Twitter and various other channels. The time I have spent at Frontier’s London HQ have been highly enjoyable, one of the main reasons for this being due to the friendly and sociable team working there. I have learnt so much from the various people I have worked with and would recommend a position here to anyone wanting to gain some experience working for a non-profit organisation. I am very happy to be continuing my involvement with Frontier by going on to lead two of the Central America Ethical Adventure Trails in 2013.   

Thiri Dickinson


Oct 2010 – Sept 2012

I started working for Frontier in October 2010 as a Bookkeeper. After 10 years as a professional accountant in the commercial sector I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue a career in this sector. I started looking for a job within an NGO, which led me straight to Frontier's London HQ. Frontier had everything I was looking for, both in terms of the job description and the work that Frontier is doing overseas. Working at Frontier gives you an insight into the running of an environmental conservation and an international development NGO as a whole, not only within your department. My days in Frontier London HQ have been invaluable and I have gained a lot of vital experience in this field that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I definitely look back on my time in London HQ with fondness and have been lucky to meet some great people along the way. I have really enjoyed my time here and will be sad to leave both the organisation and the people.

Heather Burgess

Overseas Operations Officer

Aug 2011 – Aug 2012

After 5 months interning with Frontier, I was offered the opportunity of a permanent position as the Overseas Operations Officer. Working in a small, close-knit team, I’ve gained more experience over the last year than I would have ever thought possible (including, but not exclusively how to fix a toilet flush mechanism). Every day is different with the running of our overseas field projects, but one of my favourite aspects of the job was recruiting new members of staff and seeing them flourish in their role.

The people at Frontier are truly fantastic and I can’t underestimate their impact on me in the last year and a half. Their commitment to the company and the work it undertakes is inspirational and it also helps that they are all very lovely!

My time at Frontier has been hard work and not without its challenges, but ultimately incredibly rewarding and a real eye-opener into the world of non-profit conservation organisations. I hope to continue to work in the third sector and will no doubt be staying in touch – for social reasons at the very least!

Sam Lloyd

Research & Development Manager

January 2011 – July 2012

I have worked for Frontier for a year and a half as the Research and Development Manager. It has been an incredible roller coaster ride! I have loved having the chance to help field projects develop and move into new and interesting directions as well as having the autonomy to develop the department as I feel best.

I have also been into the field twice, once to Madagascar and once to Tanzania for a combined total of 10 months. These trips have been an incredible experience. I have grown hugely as both a person and a conservation biologist. The opportunities Frontier has given me have allowed me to prove myself professionally which I feel has given my career a strong boost.

In my time here I have managed interns in London, Tanzanian Game Guards and large field teams amongst many others. I have negotiated deals, collaborations and partnerships and through some of these I have managed to obtain funding for some great projects. I have also had the good fortune to run some of these projects, both from the field and the head office giving me a wonderfully broad experience.

I have loved working with the people here, there is a healthy combination of lust for life and professionalism and I would do it all over again if I could!

Yasmin Lala

Gap Year Travel Sales Consultant

September 2011 – July 2012

I joined Frontier as a Project Coordinator intern in April 2011. Having studied Biology at University I developed an interest in conservation. My degree had given me the opportunity to gain field experience so post degree I was keen to further my understanding of how things work within conservation NGO and Frontier was just my chance!

After 5 months of my internship I was offered the role of Gap Year Travel Sales consultant. During my internship I was dealing with volunteers who were due to go away with us and so I had built up sufficient project knowledge to advise new and potential volunteers about the broad range of adventures awaiting them. My position also meant I was working with UK Operations, Overseas Operations and the Online Marketing team which added variety and challenge to the role!

By far the best thing about working at Frontier has been all the wonderful people that I have met. It has been a joy coming into work over the last year and a half and seeing their lovely faces Monday to Friday and I will miss them all a lot!

Jo Pollett

Volunteer Coordinator

October 2010 – June 2012

Having flown to Greece within 24 hours of graduating, and spending the subsequent two years working on marine research projects and travelling the world, I returned to the UK with a verging on desperate desire to find a job that would enable me to use the skills from my degree without forgoing my love of travelling. Frontier has provided me with just that opportunity!

As Volunteer Coordinator with Frontier LHQ I have been the main point of contact for volunteers throughout their experience with Frontier. No two days are ever the same, and each morning has brought a new challenge or enabled me to develop a new skill. I have enjoyed getting to know each volunteer and although the job has been hard work and long hours, it is worth it to hear returning volunteers express that Frontier has enabled them to have an experience they will never forget.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about working for Frontier is the freedom staff are given in their approach to work. I was never told ‘no you can’t do that’, rather ‘Ok but how are YOU going to do it’. The opportunities this presented have been numerous, from thinking up ingenious ways to encourage volunteers to submit feedback forms and photos to finding the best way to get volunteers excited about health and safety at briefing weekend.

By far the best thing about Frontier has been the chance to work closely with such an enthusiastic and dedicated team. I am still learning daily about the inner workings of a conservation NGO, and this position has allowed me to work alongside all departments from the Marketing team through to the Overseas Operations team. I can safely say I now know much more about the programming of a website and the best ways to ship a compressor half way round the world than I ever thought I was possible.

However, with a background in marine research, and a particular interest in the gazetting and monitoring of marine protected areas, I always knew I would not be based in London forever. I am keen to start travelling again, and Frontier has offered me the fantastic opportunity to head out to Tanzania as the Principle Investigator for the marine conservation project on Mafia Island. I will look back on my time in LHQ with fond memories and can only hope that the future is half as adventurous as the previous 21 months have been.


Marketing Manager

December 2010 – March 2012

Prior to my job at Frontier I had varied experience working in digital roles within the travel, IT and telecoms industry.  When I saw the post advertised it was just the challenge I was looking for, both in terms of the job description and the type of organisation Frontier is.

For the last 15 months we have been working hard to promote Frontier through our ever-increasing online channels.  With a real focus on increasing volunteer numbers, we have been working hard to promote Frontier through the ever-popular website, whilst building up the exciting new community pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The last 6 months have provided us with some fantastic results – our blog Into the Wild is growing more popular by the month and we have one of the most dynamic social media platforms in the volunteering and gap year sector.

Working at Frontier ensures you will be working alongside a dedicated and qualified team and it has been a privilege to work alongside everyone across the whole organisation. I will personally always keep a close eye on how Frontier are getting on and am confident they will continue being successful and provide future volunteers with a fantastic experience on their increasingly popular and busy projects.

Zoe Balmforth

Managing Director, Operations & Research

January 2011 – September 2011

I joined the London team in January 2011 after 13 years working in various roles in conservation, research and environmental management. I took on overall management of the Society for Environmental Exploration projects in pursuit of more experience remotely running overseas conservation initiatives. My job included overseeing research and conservation strategies, managing day to day operations and recruitment, and developing new projects and ideas. The role has been immensely valuable, interesting, challenging and never dull. It has immersed me in more than I could ever have imagined and I have never doubted the difference the job enabled me to make.

Frontier’s London HQ is an extremely dynamic place to work. It’s impossible to predict what a day will entail. Friends would ask me whether an upcoming week was likely to be a busy or a calm one and I’d always reply that I had absolutely no idea. I can honestly say that’s one of the things I’ve loved the most about it. On any given day I could find myself knee deep in literally anything – from figuring out how to ship a compressor from Fiji to Madagascar to unloading a lorry-load of mosquito nets or discussing how to encourage greater community involvement in land planning initiatives in rural Tanzania. I have also discovered the vast plethora of ways in which it is possible for things to go wrong and the incredible tenacity and ingenuity that some people show when tasked with solving a problem in the most difficult circumstances.

Above all, the most striking and lasting impression that I will take away from my Frontier experience comes from the people I have met, managed and worked with. Frontier is staffed by an incredible team which is spread around the world from London to Tanzania, Fiji and many other countries. These are dedicated, gifted and passionate people and they do what they do for exactly the right reasons. The field teams run projects in some of the world’s most challenging and under-developed countries and they do it with spirit and passion that stems from a real commitment to international conservation and development. They have continually amazed me and it has been a privilege to work with them all. Frontier is not a place to work if you like to sit and watch the world pass you by. It is for those with the energy to make a difference and the conviction that anything is possible.

Petros Persad

Gap Year Travel Sales Consultant

January 2011 - July 2011

I initially joined Frontier as an Events & Marketing Intern having already completed a BSc Hons in Zoology. I already had some experience working in the field both before and during University on national and international research and conservation projects and this role gave me a greater insight into the inner workings of an NGO. From the beginning you are thrown in at the deep end and I learnt not just how the events team works but how the organisation ran as a whole. I was involved in many different areas from booking school talks and careers fairs to searching for new potential partners in the field.

Six months later I was then offered the role of Gap Year Travel Consultant which allowed me to use my skills gained from my internship and broaden my knowledge further by advising volunteers about Frontier’s projects and preparing them for the trip of a lifetime. The position also allowed me a greater insight into the workings of Frontier’s projects including research, volunteer management & operations.

I am now preparing to utilise all these skills that I have learnt in the office and use them in the field as an Assistant Research Officer on the Madagascar Wildlife Conservation project. I am incredibly excited about this project as studying and researching wildlife in Madagascar is a dream come true. In spite of this I will still miss working in London HQ due to the diversity of the work and people that you speak to on a day to day basis. Working there like nowhere else as well thanks to the amazing people that I have worked with, both member of staff and interns, throughout my time here.

Neil Cook

Partner Projects Manager

The desire to pursue a career in the NGO environment led naturally to Frontier's London HQ. Beginning as Volunteer Coordinator, I took up the role of Partner Projects Manager six months later and after nearly two years in London HQ I find myself on the verge of moving to the Frontier Fiji Marine project in the role of Principal Investigator to continue my love affair with all things marine.

My time in the London HQ has been extremely valuable, rewarding, eye opening and even fun (most of the time!). With a good amount of field experience under my belt I felt it was important to gain an understanding and working knowledge of the operational and administrative side of an NGO, which meant swapping the beach for the office, and now feel this is something I have achieved.

It is rare that any two days are the same in London HQ, which certainly makes it an interesting, exciting and dynamic environment to work in, and you often find yourself working on projects you didn’t imagine you would be – all great experience! I would say that Frontier most definitely gives you a great opportunity to pursue as much work as you want to take on, and the opportunity to play a significant role in the operations of a well established NGO, in whatever capacity that may be. You will be encouraged to work independently as well as merge into the team from day one!

I definitely look back on my time in London HQ with fondness and have been lucky to meet some great people along the way, all part of the Frontier network! For those wishing to launch their career, whether that’s conservation, community development or almost anything else, Frontier could be the perfect platform from which to do so. Overall I don’t think there’s too much I would change, and I can definitely say I made the right decision to come here 21 months ago!

Dr. Elise Belle

Research & Development Manager

November 2009 - January 2011

After a PhD in Evolutionary Biology and several years spent in academia, I decided to make a more direct contribution to conservation and worked for a small marine conservation NGO in Madagascar. Upon returning in the UK, I joined Frontier as Research and Development Manager, where I’ve been in charge of overseeing all the scientific aspects of our conservation projects. I’ve been liaising with our local and international partners, writing scientific publications alongside our senior field scientists and grant applications to support and expand the scope of our current projects.

My work at Frontier has been very diverse and demanding. I thoroughly enjoyed working with all our highly dedicated and friendly staff members, both in the field and in London, including paid staff but also interns who play a very significant role at Frontier. Remotely managing the research done by our teams in the field has been a challenge at times, but has also been a very rewarding experience. Several reports, peer-reviewed publications, and management recommendations have indeed been produced as a result of the excellent work carried out by our field scientists, raising awareness and providing advice on a number of conservation issues. Another particularly difficult task has been to keep track of all the different reports and make sure that deadlines were met.

This definitely allowed me to improve my organisation and time management skills. Finally, I really enjoyed travelling around the country to deliver talks and workshops to a wide range of university students, not only presenting the great work Frontier is doing, but also giving the students advice on careers in conservation and development, and develop their critical thinking on topics such as participatory ecotourism.

I will now be moving on but will remain in the conservation and development sector. I am taking up a new position at the UNEP-WCMC in Cambridge and hope that I will be able to use the various skills I developed at Frontier to make a significant contribution to the project.

Sam Fox

Head of Operations at Frontier Headquarters

May 2008 - January 2011

I first came to Frontier in May 2008, just one week after returning from an epic two and a half year adventure around the Far East, South East Asia and Australasia. While travelling I had used my TEFL qualification to work and volunteer in a variety of different countries and settings and had discovered a real passion for the volunteering world. Having already had some contact with Frontier I naturally looked to them as soon as I came back to see if there were any roles available in the London Office. One week later I was sitting at my new desk as Volunteer Coordinator!

In my first few months as Volunteer Coordinator I loved speaking to all the new and excited volunteers preparing for their travels and advising them on what they needed to take and how to fill in their visa applications. I also took over the TEFL side of things and used my knowledge and practical experience to update and revamp the TEFL programme. One area I really found I could make a difference in was the organisation of the Partner Projects, which were at this point fairly new. At the end of 2008 with the previous Partner Projects Manager moving on I saw my opportunity to really throw myself into this and moved into the role.

The Partner Projects Manager role was exciting, satisfying and stressful at times! I really enjoyed working with Frontier’s huge variety of overseas partners, helping them organise and plan effectively for upcoming volunteer placements. However I really found my calling re-organising things at Frontier’s end to ensure more efficient systems for managing partners, preparing volunteers, collecting volunteer information and ensuring information and updates from the projects themselves are quickly disseminated to the relevant people. I also spent time with individual partners helping them improve their efficiency, understanding of what volunteers require and building their capacity to offer more and better volunteer placements. I completely lost count of how many new projects I helped to set up!

Once I had finished sorting things out in the Partner Projects department I started to plan to go out to the field with Frontier, to run some of the field projects and get some more practical experience. But before I could start packing I was asked to move into the Overseas Operations department as Head of Operations to oversee the organisational development, systems reviews and day to day management of this department. This was a role I felt I was made for and I eagerly embraced the challenge of overseeing both the operations and development of all of Frontier’s Group Projects. This included all the research programmes as well as the teaching, community and eco-tourism projects so there has never been a dull moment.

Since October 2010 I have been busy reviewing and updating reporting systems and operational procedures, bringing systems into line across all of Frontier’s projects and offices. I have set up and cemented new projects in Ghana, Costa Rica and Kenya, gained British Standards Compliance for all of Frontier’s group projects and visited projects in Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya. I’ve also been busy opening and closing offices, moving camps, managing donor funded projects, sending random pieces of equipment all over the world, and getting them sent back, training new staff, gaining Edexcel accreditation for and launching a new TEFL BTEC, launching and running social media campaigns, reinvigorating relationships and contacts, reviewing the overall strategy of the organisation and finalising the content management system of our new website – not to mention overseeing the constant challenges of the day to day operations of the field projects (please don’t mention compressors to me, ever!).

So, it’s been an incredibly busy, productive and satisfying year. There have been times when I’ve felt like my whole life has been taken over by Frontier and times when I’ve wished it would never end. Nowhere else could I have dreamed of gaining the breadth and depth of experience that I have in all areas of NGO, project and operations management here at Frontier. Nowhere else could I have met the fantastic, committed and motivating people that I have, including the staff and interns in the London office, field staff, partner organisations around the world, volunteers and ex-Frontier staff – I feel lucky and honoured to have met every last one of them. I realise (and it is often pointed out to me!) that we make sacrifices working in this field, whether they are in terms of finance, time or head space! However, I can honestly say that seeing the passion and enthusiasm of the people working in the conservation and international development world through the window of Frontier has been truly inspiring and makes every night spent worrying about equipment, operations, finance and field staff totally worth it. This is what it’s all about.

Maggie Balaskas

Research and Development Intern May 2009-Oct 2009

Volunteer Co-ordinator November 2009 – December 2010

I joined Frontier as a Research and Development Intern, in the hope that the role would broaden my knowledge of conservation field research and project management. Having a BSc Hons in Animal Science and previous research experience in both developed and developing counties definitely gave me the grounding and understanding to get into the role and gain everything I could from it.

Life as an intern at LHQ is a challenge and you need to be prepared to get thrown into the deep end, which is why having you own initiative is really important. This is the perfect opportunity to work closely with the other LHQ staff and take charge of your own individual projects. Everyday is different and as well as being in the heart of the office there are endless opportunities to travel around the country to present school talks and take part at university events, it was this that gave me a new confidence in public speaking which I found a vital skill to have in this sector.

My 6 month internship opened the door to a salaried role at Frontier as Volunteer Co-ordinator, making me responsible for supporting all participants heading out to Frontier Group projects. Initially the role was extremely challenging, however I gained an invaluable number of new skills and extensive knowledge of oversees logistics in addition to improving my ability to multi-tasks [again a must have for the role]. Despite some stressful times I fully enjoyed my time at LHQ and having a brilliant team to work alongside brought a lot of fun to the role.

During the summer I was asked to travel to Goa with Ashtead Youth Group for just under one month as their In-Country Project Co-ordinator. It was an amazing trip, incredibly hard work, but amazing and my skills to problem solve and improvise were well used. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the project, I was overwhelmed to see how much the participants took away from the experience and I was privileged to work alongside them.

I am now preparing to head out to Tanzania as Project Co-ordinator for Frontier’s Marine and Teaching projects in January 2011. This is something which I am incredibly excited about and have been aspiring towards since I submitted my application for the Research and Development internship 19 months ago. Without the invaluable experience I gained from both working in LHQ and the trip to Goa I would not have been offered this amazing opportunity. Here’s hoping my time in Tanzania will lead to more exciting adventures in the future!

Joanna French: Overseas Operations Manager

November 2009 - November 2010

I joined Frontier shortly after completing my MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College. Prior to my MSc I had been working within the marketing communications industry for a number of years and was looking to combine my business experience with my passion for conservation. The Overseas Operations Manager role at Frontier enabled me to do just that!

For the past year I have been running all the day to day operations for Frontiers group projects in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Fiji, Madagascar & Tanzania. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable, although at times, a stressful experience! Juggling the needs of the different projects does require amazing organisation skills and the ability to react quickly to any situation. Each and every day is different and rising to the challenges that crop up is something that keeps the job really interesting. It’s been fun working with a group of likeminded individuals and ensuring that I’ve recruited great field staff and seeing them grow into their positions and move the overseas projects forward has been incredibly satisfying.

I’m now moving on to work on my own projects, but I’m sure I will always keep an eye on what’s happening with the Frontier group projects and will avidly await the publications and outcomes of the research work that is being carried out across the various locations.