I am a development practitioner, who has seen development from lots of different angles, through my work with international and local NGOs, UN Agencies (ILO & UNDP), government ministries and agencies, private philanthropies, as Head of Mission for Irish Aid in Timor-Leste, and for the European Union in Solomon Islands.
I am currently working as an independent development consultant. I am available for short-term work in the Asia-Pacific region.
These different experiences allow me write realistic character portraits for the roles in my simulations – and channel what I have learned from my mistakes into participant learning. Over the past fifteen years I have lived and worked in less developed countries, learned the local languages and gained some understanding of local customs and the ways of doing things. And also how local people sometimes experience international development very differently from how it is intended.
In a previous life I was a business and technology consultant, and my primary degree focused on operations analysis – a very useful skill in managing international development projects. I believe the current systems of international development can be substantially improved – the so-called ‘aid architecture’ never had an architect. As a result I am very interested in the aid/development effectiveness agendas, and how to get better results, at greater scale, from the existing resources available to international development.
Almost by definition, the places international aid agencies work are complex. The ways international aid agencies interact with each other and governments are complicated. The better we can sensitise and prepare staff before they go on posting – particularly for the first time – the more effective they can be in navigating this complexity.
Moderating a discussion between government and NGOs
When I was head of Irish Aid in Timor-Leste we were asked by both the government and the NGOs to moderate a discussion between them, as there were a number of differences of opinion. We made an event of the meeting, sitting around the long dining table in the Embassy residence, and reached a useful outcome that all could agree on. As we had the trust and respect of both parties, we were able to add something as outsiders, and make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
That’s why I like this picture.