Jo de Serrano smiling and laughing in headshot image

Doctor of the University

An expert in response to humanitarian disasters, making a difference worldwide.

Jo left school at 16, starting her career at the Bank of England before moving into investment banking, where she stayed for 11 years.

After travelling through Latin America and the Asia Pacific, she returned to the UK for Latin American Development Studies at the University of Portsmouth, where she obtained a first-class degree with honours.

After graduating, she worked with the Department for International Development (DFID) for 13 years. At DFID she was involved in humanitarian emergency response to disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, the Arab Spring, Ebola and the Nepal Earthquake in 2015.

While working, she completed a Postgraduate Certificate of Business Administration with the Open University, before leaving DFID in 2017.

With a specialisation in surge capacity in humanitarian contexts, for many years Jo oversaw related DFID mechanisms such as the deployment of personnel for disaster responses worldwide; deployments via the UN Standby Partnership (SBP); UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams and the UK International Search and Rescue team.

From 2019-2022, Jo was the CEO of RedR UK, an NGO which provides training, mentoring and technical support for organisations, communities and individuals responding to humanitarian crises.