It was a memorable occasion in the history of IITA Ltd, formerly known as Lambourne Ltd, when DG Nteranya Sanginga visited the offices in Croydon on 9 January accompanied by Mrs Charlotte Sanginga. They met John Last, Head, Supply Chain; Betty Walsh, Office Manager; and Laura Cartwright and Aussop Hailbeth, Buyers/Expeditors. Although IITA Ltd was formally incorporated in May 2008 when Lambourne was purchased by IITA, the team of Betty Walsh, Laura Cartwright, and previously Julie Ratcliffe, had been collectively supporting IITA across Africa for more than 40 years.
For Dr Sanginga this was his first-ever visit to the London offices. However, for Mrs Sanginga “this was a visit down memory lane”. She had visited Carolyn House where Lambourne/IITA Ltd is located a number of times over the last 30 plus years.
Dr Sanginga spoke about his acknowledgement and appreciation of the work the office has done in support of IITA‟s operations across Africa and for other CGIAR centers. He was surprised at the many different aspects of soft and hard service support the team provides on a day-to-day basis in the areas of HR (arranging visas and travel), Finance (payment of overseas POs, management of multi-currency bank accounts, arranging VAT refunds, etc.) and, of course, procurement and shipping support services as part of IITA‟s supply chain operations.
Dr Sanginga said he had not fully appreciated the complexity and diversity of all the things the London office were actively involved in while supporting the mission of IITA. He reiterated the vision for IITA Ltd taking on a greater level of operational responsibilities as centralized procurement and logistic operations move away from IITA Ibadan and are devolved to the regional hubs. In future, these will be dealing directly with the IITA London office for their overseas procurement and logistic requirements instead of channeling them through the Supply Chain office in Ibadan as they do now.
Both Dr and Mrs Sanginga thanked the team for and on behalf of all IITA staff and their families across Africa. The DG said that he wished to present the IITA Ltd team to staff at the November 2015 R4D Week. He said that, for many staff, IITA Ltd was perceived to be a back office without them really knowing the importance of the work it carries out. He said he wished to change this perception.
The visit was concluded with a team lunch at a local restaurant where Dr Sanginga experienced a classic English meal of fish and chips with “mushy peas”.