Copyright: WFP/Jonathan Thompson
Ghazaleh Namini is a fairly low key individual. She speaks softly and her relaxed gaze tends to make you feel as if you are asking all the wrong questions. She doesn't offer up much about her experiences running WFP's logistics operations in Iran but when she does she downplays the facts and emphasizes the importance of the mission. When you ask her what area she covers she'll respond, "Oh, from Iraq to Afghanistan." A few minutes later she'll remind you that, "The pipeline must always remain full." She seems to have the system dialed in and I don't get the feeling that much escapes Ghazaleh's watchful eye.
Ghazaleh is one of WFP's few female Head of Logistics and while the tonnage she moves is not a lot by her own account (7000MT annually) she has to move it over an area which is only slightly smaller than the total area of Ethiopia and Somalia combined. She does all of this with the help of just one assistant. The 32 year old from Tehran is also responsible for the procurement and operational coordination of all the shipments containing wheat flour, rice, sugar, pulses and oil that enter through the port at Bandar-e-Abass.
Her office of eleven also boasts WFP's only national staff member appointed to Head of Country, Mrs. Negar Gerami. Ghazaleh took over Negar's position as Head of Logistics when her boss assumed her new role. By that time Ghazaleh had already seen action with WFP in Islamabad, Nairobi and spent time here in Rome so for her it was a straightforward transition. Her first experience with WFP came in 2001 during the emergency response to events in Afghanistan.
Ghazaleh enjoys her time in Rome serving as a pro tempo divisional Logistics Officer but she also looks forward to heading home. She tells me she misses her husband, who is an engineer in Tehran, but I get the feeling there is more to it than just that. She has already made it clear that she works with a great team back in Iran and that there is nothing for her to worry about. My guess is that like any dedicated logistics officer she wants to get back to what she knows well - the system she has helped build - and once again start pushing goods over millions of square kilometers.
Ghazaleh will be around for a few more weeks so why not buy her a cup of coffee and ask her to tell you a few stories.