Cecilia Schmölzer started her career as a carpenter in set construction for TV, events and trade shows. She then went on to study Architecture, graduating from Uni Kassel (Germany) in 2004.
After a self-organized trip to India and Sri Lanka to study ongoing reconstruction after the Indian Ocean tsunami, she completed the postgraduate degree "Master of Human Settlements" at the KU Leuven (Belgium) in 2006. She started her humanitarian career in post disaster shelter and reconstruction work with German Red Cross in Sri Lanka, and continued with UNOPS in Haiti after the 2010 Earthquake. From 2012 to 2016 she coordinated the IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) - Shelter Research Unit, promoting collaborations between academia, private sector and humanitarians to improve emergency shelter solutions. In 2016 she took a position with IFRC as focal Point for Technical Coordination with the Global Shelter Cluster (GSC), the global humanitarian coordination mechanism for humanitarian shelter interventions. She has been deployed in first assessment and shelter cluster coordination roles in Philippines, Haiti, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Indonesia and Mozambique and has supported GSC working groups, contingency planning exercises as well as shelter trainings and workshops in various countries.
Since 2020 Cecilia is working as an independent shelter & settlements consultant, currently engaged with with CARE International UK and the Centre for Emergency and Development Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University on a research project on how to deliver on the Grand Bargain commitments and transform humanitarian shelter work by better supporting affected people's "self-recovery".