As we wind towards the end of a difficult and unexpected year, we're reminded to take the long view, that no one is alone, and that we all need each other.
We've heard from so many of you how you as leaders are struggling to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. The crisis has affected you so many ways, as resources are redirected, events are postponed, and you struggle to find meaningful ways to support your staff. We’ve talked to you, and we know that you’ve been doing the best you can.
Above all, responding to this pandemic will take leadership. As Mission Talent, we're committed to supporting leaders that understand how issues are interconnected, and who are here to stay the course. This year our world may have taken steps back from our goals like achieving equality, gender justice, sustainability and education and healthcare for all. But, we are still here. We'll continue to work towards these goals and we'll continue to rely on our global network of solidarity to take us forward.
Thank you to everyone in our network for being part of a movement to make the world a better place. We wish you safe and restful holidays and hope to see you soon, rejuvenated in the new year.
Best wishes from Katja, Emily, Lin, Lara, Mwende, Janien, Anabella, Bekiwe, Laura, and Aleksandra
WWF Adria has trusted Mission Talent to find its future CEO for the region. The person occupying this position will play a key role in raising awareness among external stakeholders about the impact that conservation and biodiversity have on the economy and future of the Balkan region.
WWF is a non-profit organisation that has led the fight for the conservation of nature and the defence of species for the last 60 years around the world. In Eastern Europe, WWF has been working towards the protection of the Dinaric Arc for more than 15 years, and in 2015 the organisation was formally established in the region. WWF Adria currently has operations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia.
In the Balkan region, WWF Adria has focused on recovering and maintaining the natural wealth of the region through the management of protected areas at sea and on land. Their activities include involving the local communities to promote the sustainable development of the region through ecotourism; protecting rivers and access to water; supporting sustainable fishing projects to maintain healthy marine ecosystems; and promoting political advocacy, governance and investment campaigns to improve the natural capital of the region of the people and of the society that inhabits it.
Recently, WWF Adria launched the cycling route called Amazon of Europe Bike Trail together with 26 other partners in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. This initiative consists of a route of 1,250 km in 27 stages that offers an opportunity to coincide a cycling holiday in nature with a cultural experience. With this initiative, they promote ecotourism and directly support nature conservation in the region.
WWF Adria also has launched a campaign against the construction of small hydroelectric plants in the region called Losing Rivers. These plants change the course of the water causing droughts so that the inhabitants of the areas that depend on the rivers must move due to the lack of water to irrigate their lands. In addition, it has an impact on the biodiversity of rivers causing the disappearance of key species. Small hydroelectric plants have grown by 300% in the region since 2018 and despite being considered renewable energy, these small plants are not efficient enough, as they cover less than 4% of the energy demand of the Balkan region.
WWF Adria works to raise awareness throughout the Adria region of the importance of sustainable consumption of seafood in changing the purchasing power of consumers and people's ability to influence the fishing industry. To do this, it has brought together all stakeholders to work on a shared vision for a prosperous Adriatic Sea by reestablishing key species to levels that are healthy for society, the environment and the economy.
In the same way, WWF Adria implements different initiatives to promote political advocacy. In September of this year, more than 60 Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of five of the world's largest economies, endorse the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, committing to decisive action on nature to protect human and planetary health for 2030 and WWF Adria appealed to the leaders of the countries of the Balkan region to join this pledge.
With the aim of increasing the impact of WWF Adria in the region, growing the number of projects, accelerating the generation of awareness, and building a future in which people live in harmony with nature in the Balkan region, WWF Adria is looking for a new leader who will unite the team and develop governance structures to strengthen the organisation's impact.
Mission Talent is currently searching for a new Executive Director for foodwatch International.
foodwatch International is a consumer rights organisation that fights for safe, healthy and affordable food for everyone that harms neither people nor the environment. The organisation challenges food industry practices that violate the rights or interests of consumers, and acts as a counterweight to the powerful industry lobby, with the aim of influencing decision-makers to address loopholes in European and national food policies.
The organisation was created 18 years ago in Berlin. Today, they operate at national and European level; foodwatch Netherlands has been active since 2010 and foodwatch France officially opened its doors in 2014. The launch of more offices, like Austria, is currently under development.
Currently, foodwatch has its eye on the CETA negotiations. With the EU negotiating more than two dozen Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), the ones of particular interest to foodwatch are the so-called “new generation” FTAs. These are agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. foodwatch works around these negotiations to raise awareness that all trade deals must be negotiated transparently and creates fair trade conditions.
In 2019, when it was revealed that Coca-Cola was sponsoring the Romanian Presidency of the EU, foodwatch submitted a complaint to the EU Ombudsman. The incumbent Executive Director and founder of foodwatch International, Thilo Bode, stated at the time that “Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of one of the major political bodies in Europe is unacceptable. This damages the independence and credibility of politics.”
foodwatch is also tackling the issue of excess packaging for food and beverages, which is not only damaging to the environment but also toxic to human health. Many packages use printing inks which contain mineral oil and up to 200 other chemical substances, and even packaging made from recycled waste paper has been proven toxic.
Pesticides are also on foodwatch’s agenda. The European pesticide industry is selling toxic products to third countries which are banned in the EU. foodwatch has launched an international petition urging companies to immediately stop the production, sale and export of these pesticides. Furthermore, foodwatch has called upon the European Commission for stronger regulation on pesticide exports to protect people and the environment – regardless of their location.
At the core of foodwatch’s activities, are the themes of transparency and democracy. foodwatch does not accept any funding from governments or industries and is solely financed through membership fees and donations. Their independence means that they are free to choose their target campaigns and consider where they can make the most impact.
As it approaches its twentieth anniversary, the appointment of a new executive director to replace the founder represents a new phase in the life of the organisation. Over the next few years, the organisation will be reviewing its governance structures and strengthening its campaigning across Europe. Working with a vibrant and passionate team, the new executive director will surely play a pivotal role defining the future of the organisation and for consumers across Europe.
Mission Talent is currently searching for an Executive Director to launch, lead and expand the Legacy Landscapes Fund.
As the global economy slows down, conservation faces a huge challenge. Many protected areas are funded by tourism, which has trickled to a halt this year. Wildlife safaris in Africa, for example, have seen a 75% decrease in income — at the same time, government conservation budgets are also being diverted.
International aid, which has filled in the gaps in the past, has become unpredictable. “The current pandemic and its aftermath could undermine decades of conservation effort,” says lead author Mark Hockings, vice-chair of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas. How to ensure sustainable financing for conservation and biodiversity has become an urgent question competing among many other global crises.
For the Legacy Landscapes Fund (LLF), partnerships are the answer. A joint initiative of governments and private foundations, its partners include BMZ, KfW, Agence Française de Développement, the Campaign for Nature, Frankfurt Zoological Society, the IUCN, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and WWF. This funding model has previously proven successful with the Blue Action Fund, the Caucasus Nature Fund and the Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust.
The LLF will focus on safeguarding outstanding biodiversity areas, or legacy landscapes, in the Global South. Currently, only 13% of the world’s annual spending on protected areas is allocated in this region, while most of the largest legacy landscapes are located there. These include for example the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia; the Tumucumaque National Park in Brazil and the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area in Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola. Many of these outstanding legacy landscapes face a variety of complex challenges — most prominently, balancing conservation needs with the need for social and economic development.
The LLF seeks to obtain significant and sustained funding, both from public and philanthropic sources, with the aim of building a network of the world’s most important legacy landscapes. The Fund will finance long-lasting partnerships between experienced NGOs and protected areas authorities as well as local communities in order to efficiently conserve and manage protected areas and their buffer zones. These local partnerships aim to improve the conservation of biological diversity, while at the same time securing the rights of the local populations.
This unique design makes the creation of the LLF historic and ambitious, and the fund plans to operate as a learning organisation and share its findings with the wider conservation community. Its official launch and strategy roll-out still lies ahead, but with the core pieces of the partnership coming together, and protection of biodiversity as urgent as ever, there is no time to waste.
Vergangene Woche hat das Landesarbeitsgericht Nürnberg ein Urteil veröffentlicht, welches bestätigt, dass die Filialleitung eines Unternehmens Personalgespräche nicht in deutscher Sprache führen muss. Der Betriebsrat hatte Klage eingereicht, da Einstellungs- und Personalgespräche auf Englisch geführt worden sind, was als eine “Verletzung der Mitbestimmungsrechte der Arbeitnehmervertretung” angesehen wurde.
Als Pessimist*in könnte man sich angesichts des aktuellen politischen Klimas in Deutschland überrascht zeigen, dass ein Gericht diese Entscheidung trifft.
Leider ist die Beschwerde des Betriebsrates keine Überraschung für uns.
Wir partizipieren mit einem gewissen luxuriösen Idealismus an der philanthropischen Arbeit unserer Kunden und teilen vehement die Auffassung, dass wir gemeinsam Veränderungen in der Welt bewirken können. Damit geht eine hohe Erwartungshaltung an den code of conduct unserer Klienten einher.
Oftmals ist die Aussage “Die Person muss unbedingt gut Deutsch sprechen” ein ernüchternder Moment bei unseren Erstgesprächen. Und selbst wenn Vorstände oder Vorgesetzte und das Auswahlkomitee für Bewerber*innen offen sind, die nicht muttersprachlich Deutsch sprechen, haben wir diese Bewerber*innen an Teams und den zukünftigen Kolleg*innen scheitern sehen – an Teams, die sich hauptamtlich für globale Inklusion, Offenheit, Chancengleichheit und gegen Diskriminierung einsetzen.
Klassische Einwände sind hier:
Warum fällt es (sogar) NGOs so schwer, to practice what we preach?
Wenn wir ehrlich daran interessiert sind, unsere Teams diverser zu machen, Strukturen aufzubrechen und agents of change zu sein, dann müssen wir radikaler sein – auch mit uns selbst. Es gilt, die Wurzeln der eigenen Sorgen genauer zu betrachten und im nächsten Schritt Lösungen zu finden und auch finden zu wollen.
Keiner der oben genannten Punkte stellt ein unüberwindbares Hindernis dar und Ideen und Ansätze sind überall zu finden. Gerne unterstützen wir als Mission Talent hier auch mit Beobachtungen und Erfahrungen aus anderen Organisationen.
Eine kurze Zusammenfassung des Urteils findet sich hier.
Mission Talent is currently searching for the new Regional Support Team for East and Southern Africa to join UNAIDS at an exciting time of change and transformation within the organisation. As part of our search process, we took some time to find out more about UNAIDS current work and vision.
UNAIDS champions the rights of girls and women and key populations—gay men, men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, prisoners and other incarcerated people and migrants—to ensure that they can access the HIV services they need. Their motto is to “leave no one behind”.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNAIDS has called on governments to protect human rights and address gender-based violence and has made it clear that sexual and reproductive health services should be recognised as essential services. A new UNAIDS report shows how governments can confront the gendered and discriminatory impacts of COVID-19.
UNAIDS leads the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Launched in 1996, it draws on the experience and expertise of 11 United Nations system Cosponsors and is the only United Nations entity with civil society represented on its governing body. UNAIDS provides the strategic direction, advocacy, coordination and technical support needed to catalyse and connect leadership from governments, the private sector and communities to deliver life-saving HIV services.
In 2014, UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 initiative that is working to ensure that by 2020, 30 million people have access to treatment through meeting the 90–90–90 targets, whereby 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads. In 2016, UNAIDS laid out Fast-Track commitments enshrined in the United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, to:
It is expected that the next High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on HIV and AIDS will take place in 2021, and produce a new political direction that will guide the organisation.
The key to UNAIDS success is working with communities and civil society, ensuring that communities are empowered to engage, own and direct HIV programmes and promote the full inclusion of civil society. This has extended the reach and reduced the costs of response. The UNAIDS Secretariat has offices in 70 countries, with 70% of its staff based in the field.
Photo Credit: © Annette Lemieux
As a global executive search firm, Mission Talent is in the business of having in-depth conversations with people from all over the world. In the spirit of connecting global leaders, we recently held a digital event on how NGOs and social movements can work together.
Recent social unrest has opened doors for change, but to remain relevant and impactful, NGOs must connect and keep working closely with social movements. This requires speed, agility, and vision, which can be hard to do within traditional organisational structures.
To discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that arise from working with social movements, we were joined by Anabella Rosemberg, International Programme Director at Greenpeace International in France; Avijit Michael, Executive Director at Jhatkaa.org in India, and Alejandra Bravo, Director of Leadership and Training at the Broadbent Institute in Canada. Here are a few of the themes that stood out from the very rich discussion:
“Enter and find yourself within, and find out what is your contribution, or step out.”
A social movement is defined as a moment with a huge level of action by people who are not usually activists. For an NGO in this space, it is challenging because there is the temptation to exert control and create structure. NGOs must manage their expectations, and decide whether they are part of the movement or not. They must embrace chaos and make themselves useful in a way that is movement generous, without the expectation of having a structure or any space for decision-making.
“This isn’t just about recovery, but about rebuilding”.
COVID-19 has been a great revealer of what is currently wrong in our societies. It has brought out the best side as communities, but also highlighted social inequalities and discrimination all over the world. It has given us a rare opening to view what can be changed in society, and how it is possible to change the rules when needed if we work together. Social movements, across regions and issues, are coming together organically and they are connecting the dots that were missing before. In all of this, NGOs can contribute to social movements as allies, assisting in policy formulation, communications strategies or providing media and leadership training.
“These crises give us opportunities to reflect on how connected we are to the societies in which we are trying to effect change”.
For NGOs to be relevant, they must become more reflective of society in terms of diversity and representation. NGOs need to challenge themselves to grow out of this current crisis. There is no “relationship” with a social movement as whole, but with people. Organisations were caught off guard on discrimination when Black Lives Matters erupted, and they should not have been. It happened because of a relational and representational disconnect. In order to build these relationships, organisations need to be transparent about what their interests are. They need to consistently show up without stepping in front and learn from the demands that are made from society in moments of eruption.
“We need to move away from working issue by issue, campaign by campaign. It is not going to help us change the world.”
We must be radically committed to equity and not make people choose amongst their needs. By not connecting issues, we are doing just this. The anti-racism fight is not separate from the climate crisis. Communities do not experience one in the absence of the other. They experience everything at once. NGOs are making too many assumptions about what their supporters are experiencing without having engaged well first.
We’d like to thank our speakers for this rich discussion on this important topic. Please watch our social media for announcements about events in the future.
The recent incidence of police violence has sparked a global uprising of people demanding an end to racism and police brutality. At the same time, a global health pandemic requires us to confront the unequal structures across many of our societies, and a climate crisis looms ahead.
As these phenomena play out in real-time, suddenly there are opportunities for real change on issues that previously seemed intractable. New audiences are engaging in new ways, and new organisations are quickly forming to fulfil the needs of the movement. Social movements and NGOs have long worked in parallel, but how can they work together to make real and long-lasting change?
In this webinar, we will hear perspectives from different regions of the world about the intersections of NGO and social movements and discuss examples of collaboration, as well as the fundamental challenges in working together.
Our panellists for this event are:
In this discussion among leaders, we will ask:
We invite you to join us in this open and reflective conversation among experts.
Date: 20 July 2020
Time: 15:30-16:00 CEST / 09:30-11:00 EST
You can register for the Zoom event here.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Mission Talent is currently searching for the new Executive Director for the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research. So, we decided to take a moment to learn more about the organisation and understand why investing in African social science policy research is important.
PASGR was founded in 2011 as a response to the declining academic standards, especially in quantitative research methods, in African social science institutions. It was initially funded by DFID with five-years to become self-sustaining. But it managed to do so in only two years, adding supporters like the Carnegie, Hewlett and Mastercard Foundations. To date, it has partnerships with 14 universities across more than ten African countries, with the goal of expanding in western and northern Africa.
PASGR’s focus on public policy research is based on the understanding that public policy cuts across all sectors such as health, education, economics, arts and culture. As such, it hopes to positively influence public policy decision-making in Africa through its collaborative programmes to bring about social change. Its three core programmes are Research, Higher Education, and Professional Development and Training.
PASGR’s Research Programme focuses on governance, with the core themes of urban governance, inclusive development, and social protection. The organisation has its sights set on providing increased opportunities for governance research, capacity building, and direct engagement between emerging scholars and established senior researchers.
PASGR’s Higher Education Programme includes the Pedagogical Leadership in Africa (PeDaL) programme that brings together eight partners under the vision of transforming teaching and learning practices to enhance the quality of graduate programmes in Africa. It is the only African-led programme of its sort – and currently being implemented in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Botswana.
Throughout the years, PASGR also has enrolled more than 700 students in its Master’s Programme in Research and Public Policy, in its partner universities. PASGR continues to set its sights even higher. A doctoral program in public policy is in the design phase and is envisioned to be established in different continental universities, fostering collaboration and an evidence-based approach to public policy on the continent.
Through its Professional Development and Training, also known as the PASGR Institutes, the organisation has trained over 1600 researchers. Key features of the training programmes include the integration of gender and academic leadership development for university leaders.
It is this strive for excellence that led to PASGR being awarded an A+ in its ten-year DFID annual review. For its next phase, PASGR seeks to expand its reach to become a truly pan-African organisation, reflective of the full diversity of the continent. It will measure its success not by numbers of those enrolled in its programmes, but by how research is translated into “social and public policy that addresses the current and future key development needs of Africa”.
Una serie occasional de aquellas lecciones que aprendemos de nuestros clientes.
Mientras estamos en la búsqueda del (la) nuevo(a) Director(a) Ejecutivo(a) de Oxfam México, nos tomamos un tiempo para aprender del trabajo de la organización en el país y cómo la desigualdad se expresa en la vida cotidiana.
La pandemia del COVID-19 ha incrementado la desigualdad en el mundo, especialmente en México donde la brecha de desigualdad se ha acentuado considerablemente. México tiene 53 millones de personas viviendo en la pobreza, y actualmente se encuentra a un paso de una crisis financiera, en parte por la fluctuación del peso mexicano en relación al dólar, que rara vez se ha visto en la historia reciente de este país.
La brecha socio-económica en México tiene profundas raíces históricas y se manifiesta en amplias discrepancias entre los estándares y las expectativas de vida. En la mayoría de los casos, las condiciones en las que una persona nace determinan sus oportunidades de formación y empleo a futuro, perpetuando la desigualdad social en el país. Esto se hace aún más evidente, cuando estas diferencias influyen en la propia división geográfica del país - mientras el norte se caracteriza por tener mayor poder adquisitivo, el sur tiene los salarios más bajos.
La desigualdad social es mayor desde la perspectiva de género. De acuerdo al Instituto Nacional de Mujeres en México, en algunas regiones la mujer puede recibir un salario hasta 60% menor que el hombre, al mismo tiempo que es responsable de las tareas domésticas. En promedio, al año una mujer dedica 40 días de trabajo doméstico, mientras que un hombre dedica 16 días. Situación que se agrava en familias que se encuentran bajo la línea de la pobreza.
La población indígena es mucho más vulnerable. De acuerdo a las Naciones Unidas, 7% de las mujeres indígenas vive con menos de USD $1,90 al día. Además, este colectivo es más propensos a vivir en zonas rurales aisladas, sin acceso a servicio básicos.
Oxfam International ha creado una herramienta de seguimiento para clasificar el compromiso de los países en reducir la desigualdad. En 2018, México fue catalogado como uno de los países menos comprometidos en reducirla.
En este contexto, organizaciones como Oxfam México están liderando un plan de acción para influir en diferentes públicos de interés para promover un cambio que disminuya la brecha social. Para ello han creado una estrategia, que incluye tres pilares principales:
Oxfam México también es una voz relevante como líder del sur entre la confederación de Oxfam, la cual lidera una campaña global de desigualdad llamada Even It Up.
Como Oxfam México, otras instituciones han unido sus voces para generar un cambio en el país, entre ellas: FUNDAR, Equis Justicia, IPAS, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, entre otras. Juntas saben que sus voces tendrán mayor impacto.
Spotlight On is an occasional series on some of the lessons we learn from our clients.
As we search for the new Executive Director for Oxfam Mexico, we took some time to learn more about the organisation's work in Mexico, and how inequality is expressed in daily life.
The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on inequality all over the world, and the case of Mexico is especially stark. With 53 million people living in poverty, it is ranked among the most unequal countries in the world and it is currently on the brink of financial crisis as the value of the Peso fluctuates to a degree rarely seen in recent history.
Inequality in Mexico has deep historical roots and manifests itself in wide discrepancies among the standard of living and life expectancy. The conditions that one is born into determines the trajectory of employment and educational opportunities, which widens the inequality gap, even within people from the same regions. The country is also geographically divided by income level; while the north has greater purchasing power, the south has the lowest wages.
According to the Women’s National Institute in Mexico, in some regions, women receive a salary of up to 60% less than men. in addition, women take on a larger responsibility of unpaid household work and emotional labour: on average, a woman spends 40 days per year on housework, compared to the 16 days a man spends. For the lower class, the difference is even wider: women dedicate 45 days a year to household chores, compared to 15 for men.
Indigenous people in Mexico carry out the majority of agricultural, construction or informal work, and overall have incomes that fall below the average. They are also more likely to live in isolated areas without access to basic services. The situation for women indigenous people is even worse; according to the United Nations, 7% of indigenous women live on less than USD $1.90 a day.
Oxfam International has created a tracking tool that ranks the commitment of countries to reducing inequality. In 2018, Mexico ranked among one of the least committed countries to reducing inequality.
In this context, organisations like Oxfam Mexico are leading an action plan to influence different stakeholders to promote change. They take a three-pronged approach:
Oxfam Mexico also has an important voice as a Southern leader within the Oxfam confederation, which is leading a global campaign on inequality called Even It Up.
Like Oxfam Mexico, other institutions have joined voices to increase pressure to generate change, including FUNDAR, and Equis Justicia, IPAS, and Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir among others. Working together, they know that their voice will be louder and that they will be heard.
A pandemic on our doorstep: COVID-19 is challenging the global community in an unprecedented way — both professionally and personally. For many, it is an intense emotional and psychological load to bear.
We have been wondering: are humanitarian and development organisations better equipped and more resilient to deal with COVID-19 crisis than other organisations?
Humanitarian and development workers have been trained to manage crisis and deal with complexity and uncertainty on a daily basis. But now amid a global crisis situation, are humanitarian and development organisations more resilient? What lessons can we learn from them about organisational preparedness?
Our panellist for this event will be:
In this discussion among leaders, we will ask:
We invite you to join us in this open and reflective conversation among experts.
Date: 10 June 2020
Time: 15:00 - 16:15 CEST/SAST / 13:00 - 14:15 UCT / 20:00 - 21:15 ICT / 8:00 - 9:15 EST
You can register for the Zoom event here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
A pandemic on our doorstep: COVID-19 is challenging the global community in an unprecedented way — both professionally and personally. For many, it is an intense emotional and psychological load to bear.
We have been wondering: are humanitarian and development organisations better equipped and more resilient to deal with COVID-19 crisis than other organisations?
Humanitarian and development workers have been trained to manage crisis and deal with complexity and uncertainty on a daily basis. But now amid a global crisis situation, are humanitarian and development organisations more resilient? What lessons can we learn from them about organisational preparedness?
Our panellist for this event will be:
In this discussion among leaders, we will ask:
We invite you to join us in this open and reflective conversation among experts.
Date: 10 June 2020
Time: 15:00 - 16:15 CEST/SAST / 13:00 - 14:15 UCT / 20:00 - 21:15 ICT / 8:00 - 9:15 EST
You can register for the Zoom event here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Recently, many people are finding themselves working at home for the first time. While some of us are used to working from home, others are finding it challenging, especially if you also have your children and the rest of your family around.
At Mission Talent, we have more than ten years of experience working from our home offices. Reflecting on our first-hand experience, we offer tips that could help you to adapt to working from home — without compromising your productivity and health.
Set up your workspace
Set a daily routine
Mind your well-being
Practice healthy communication
Be mindful of video-call etiquette
Feel free to reach out to us. We are here to support you.
At Mission Talent, we are in the business of supporting leaders all over the world. While our local circumstances might vary, we all are united in facing the same crisis. This is a time when leadership matters.
We want to let you know that Mission Talent continues to be fully operational and that we are drawing inspiration from the many leaders in our network worldwide who are at the frontlines of COVID-19.
Please stay informed from trusted sources, and take care of yourselves, your teams and your families. This is a time when we will rely on the strength of our relationships. We will all need to rest and be patient with each other as our schedules and realities change. We salute and thank all people who are coming out to support each other around the world; from the tireless medical staff to the unsung heroes in grocery stores. Our world is changing, and now it is time to learn some valuable lessons as humanity that we must take forward.
Please do get in touch with us if we can be of support to you as an individual or your organization. We thank you for being a part of our network, and we wish you good health and the support and resources you need during this time. Please take care of one another.
With much love,
In 2009, Mission Talent was founded in Germany and South Africa. Today, the company has grown to a team of nine consultants based on four continents representing seven nationalities. To mark this anniversary, Katja Schramm, the Director of Mission Talent, reflects on what she has learned over the past decade, and what she is looking forward to in the next one.
When you look back on the last ten years, what do you feel is your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is having built a company that is woman-owned, multicultural and made up of a close-knit team who works together virtually. To date, we have placed more than 390 leaders in 64 countries, and we have become known as a partner for organisations seeking a robust and thorough search process that increases their access to under-represented talent. Our team is driven by our commitment to place diverse and impact-driven leaders who are representative of the people they serve.
When Mission Talent was launched, we set our sights on placing local talent, and in doing so we’ve been able to contribute to the enormous need to place women and candidates from the global South and East in leadership positions. We have worked with some of the biggest international NGOs, and we also have worked with organisations that represent new forms of organising models. Mission Talent has had the privilege of placing so many exciting leaders over the years, some of whom we recently profiled in a series of interviews about leadership transitions.
What shifts have you seen in the international development sector?
In just ten years, we have seen a much-needed shift from a sector primarily led by the North to organisations wanting to be representative of the region they are serving by hiring local talent. While our sector still suffers from a lack of women leaders, we have seen a shift towards hiring more women, including diverse women, for leadership roles.
Over the years, we have placed many executives that must lead across global federated structures. For these types of roles, we are looking for people with strong cross-cultural coordination skills and an influencing and enabling leadership style that brings people along. But increasingly we are seeing the down-sides that come with operating from within federated structures and, with that, a drive to other forms of organising that can be more impactful. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise of virtual organisations and social enterprises and these are taking up spaces that were previously occupied by traditional INGOs.
We have also seen an increase in people working remotely, and the possibility of positions being based at global hubs, making it easier to tap into broader and local talent markets. This especially provides more flexibility for hiring female candidates.
For me, and all of us at Mission Talent, the biggest issue in recent years has been the safeguarding crisis, which has shaken our sector. Because so many brave individuals have been coming forward and speaking up, we have witnessed a much greater awareness and collaboration on safeguarding issues.
How has the safeguarding crisis impacted recruiting for the international development sector?
To be honest, it has left the sector and us at Mission Talent a bit in shock because everyone initially felt rather helpless. It's good that there is greater awareness and that reference checks and interviews are more robust, but what is missing is easier access to information about people who have had safeguarding issues. I would like to see a common effort from organisations so that we can avoid rehiring people who are known to have behaved inappropriately because even if we ask about these issues in a reference check, it is legal constraints make it unlikely for references to be frank about the matter.
At Mission Talent, we have a zero-tolerance approach for inappropriate behaviour and we are watching out for any warning signs throughout the entirety of our recruitment processes. We keep our ears close to the ground and pay attention to any kind of red flag. This includes listening to what people say, but even more so to what they don’t say. We are also starting to think more about incorporating psychometric tests, but this is a complicated approach to tackling the issue.
What would be your advice to clients that want to recruit for diversity?
Don't be too strict in looking for the perfect match. Rather look for someone who brings emotional skills and strategic capacity, and then provide them with the training and mentoring to enhance their leadership and management skills. Recruiting a diverse leader can be time-consuming, and organisations need to be patient and invest the time and training to recruit people who have not previously held senior positions. Our sector cannot be more diverse and representative unless we invest in lifting people up.
What are you looking forward to at Mission Talent?
In the immediate future, I am looking forward to rebranding and showcasing a fresh look for Mission Talent. We soon will have a new logo and website, and instead of using photos of people, we will be using custom illustrations. I am excited about this because I believe this to be the most ethical way to market a company working for social impact.
I am also excited about expanding my team. We are looking to bring in new client managers to help us grow in regions like MENA and Asia. We will also be looking more closely at some of the new players in international development, like social enterprises, and will seek to work with them.
What gives you hope as you look at the field of international development and global change?
When I see young people taking ownership of their future, it gives me immense hope, and I am encouraged by young people's zero-tolerance for racism, populism, and the abuse of our planet. The future is with those young people.
I’m also heartened by countries like Finland and New Zealand, who embrace young female leadership, and countries who are looking at alternative forms of measuring development, like focusing on well-being in Iceland or happiness in Bhutan.
These are the things that give me hope.
In 2015, Mission Talent placed Gilbert Sape in the role of Asia Pacific Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection Asia Pacific. In December 2016, he was promoted to the Head of Campaign role. Gilbert previously held numerous roles in agriculture and research at organisations like Pesticide Action Network International and the IBON Foundation. In this interview, he reflects on campaigning trends in Asia, and shares about his success working to end the use of bear bile in South Korea.
You are now Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection for the Asia Pacific — could you share an example of the most exciting campaigns you have been part of?
I've been involved in many campaigns, but primarily my campaign is on ending the use of wild animals in traditional medicine. In particular, I work on bears, tigers, and lions. There is no robust scientific evidence that the use of wildlife in traditional medicines is effective. Many wild animals are farmed for traditional medicine, which means they are bred in captivity and confined in cages. Most people are not aware that wild animals are used in traditional medicine and that they are farmed and suffer in captivity.
Coming from an animal welfare organisation, our campaign is to stop the practice. It is about changing the perspective of the consumers, but also changing policies and practices of companies involved not to profit from that business. There are many alternatives, both plant-based or synthetic instead of using wildlife in traditional medicine. Presenting these alternatives is important so consumers know that there’s a way out.
What have been some of the achievements of this campaign?
One of the exciting achievements so far was our work in South Korea where through our work with a local partner organisation, the government agreed to sterilise the bears that are intended for the bear bile industry. This means these bears will be the last generation that will be used for traditional medicine. This is the start of the phase-out of the bear bile industry.
After almost 15 years of campaigning, WAP has achieved this victory and it was good to be a part of the tail-end of the campaign. Of course, the work will continue, but I think we can now see the end of the campaign. This is an important milestone as we can use this as a case study to demonstrate that there is a solution and it’s possible to end the industry. These positive developments are important as they are proof that there’s hope for wild animals and that it is possible to end the exploitation of wildlife for traditional medicine.
Recently, World Animal Protection also has made some progress campaigning to stop elephant riding in Thailand. What has been important in your strategy?
What is important in our strategy is having a clear understanding on how the change would happen -- create a global supporter base that is willing to take action for elephants, getting buy-in from and putting pressure on travel companies and operators to change their practice, and demonstrating that there is indeed a sustainable solution. It was not an easy campaign but through various tactics, tourists have a better understanding now that elephants are sentient beings, that they suffer and feel pain. Travel companies and operators who sell tours and have ties with different tourism venues are aware now that it is a business risk for them to profit from a practice that exploits and harms animals.
What trends or innovations do you see in campaigning in Asia?
Before we launch something online, we go out and talk to people to see if what we’re planning actually makes sense in the real world — we call it “sensing and testing”. Sensing because you get the sense of what people understand and what their opinions are about what you are doing, and then testing some of the materials and ideas to determine if it would move people to take action. I see this innovation being done by many organisations and this is a very good development.
Also, while many organisations and campaigners are using online platforms to reach out to people, there's also the need to be more personal in our approach in our campaigning. While online mobilisation is good, you don’t connect in a deeper way, because that kind of connection you only get when you see people eye-to-eye, interact and discuss issues face-to-face. I also think that with the issue of privacy and how the big online platforms are misusing the information that people give them, I think a lot of people don’t trust the information that they see online. Therefore, it makes sense for campaigners to really reach out to people in a manner that is more personal — if you want to gather support. More than a trend, offline activities are essential in campaigning.
How do you relate the issue of animal welfare to human welfare?
We have to look at the issue of animals and people as part of one big ecosystem. If animals are harmed and killed, the whole ecosystem is affected. Animals help to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. As an animal welfare organisation, we value animal welfare as a primary issue. However, it doesn’t mean that we are not concerned about other issues as well. In fact, we recognise the link between animal welfare, the issue of environment and climate crisis. The climate crisis not only impacts human beings but animals as well. The changing climate is impacting the food systems and vice versa. It is also impacting wild animals as they lose their natural habitat to large-scale farming. These are such interrelated issues. The work of World Animal Protection complements the work of other organisations working on humanitarian issues, for example. There is a great synergy there and also the possibility for cooperation and collaboration.
At the end of 2017, Mission Talent placed ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye as the Country Director for WaterAid in Nigeria. Previously, she was the Country Director at Girl Effect, and also the Country Director for Oxfam in Nigeria. In this interview, she talks about the role of women in making change happen, new approaches to providing access to toilets, and how WaterAid is influencing the government in Nigeria and, in turn, the rest of Africa.
How has your experience been with WaterAid so far? What programmes or campaigns are you working on now that you are excited about?
It has been an extremely wonderful experience. I come from the development sector, but I didn’t come from the water and sanitation sector, so it was a bit of a learning curve in trying to understand the topic within the Nigerian context. It was a surprise that up to 34% of Nigerians do not have access to adequate water and almost 60% don’t have access to adequate sanitation. Nigeria has 180 million people, so this is a lot of individuals and I was tasked with seeing how we can scale up WaterAid’s work. Trying to provide services is not an option because Nigeria is huge and WaterAid is not a big organisation and, nonetheless, it is the government’s responsibility to provide services. Instead, what we have done is to try and build a partnership with the government to support them in building capacity, strategic planning, and delivery. The government needs to be in the driver's seat and to prioritise water and sanitation. We’re not prescribing to the government what to do, we are advising them, and of course, we’re not the only ones trying to push this agenda, we also have The World Bank, UNICEF, and Action Against Hunger.
The federal government has been on-board completely. Last year they declared a state of emergency in the water and sanitation sector, and they have really given the political will and drafted a national action plan. Part of that plan is a nationwide campaign on sanitation that we are working on with them. We’re still designing this campaign and don’t want to run faster than the government, because they need to be in the driver’s seat, so we have not launched it yet. A challenge we have is to try and get the state governments to do the same — to prioritise water and sanitation in the way the federal government has done. A lot of people recognise that water is necessary, but they don’t see sanitation as being as important, and so that has been a major challenge for us. Another major challenge has been fundraising and trying to get the resources because everybody is chasing the same funders and the same donors. Even though water and sanitation are very critical, many donors are diverting from the water and sanitation sector.
Nigeria is one of the largest and most influential countries in Africa, how does your work in Nigeria influence the rest of Africa?
Nigeria plays a very crucial role in Africa both in West Africa, the African Union and beyond. We are doing quite a lot in terms of advocacy and networking and to ensure that we are in all the influential meetings. We are also trying to get the Nigerian government to advocate for our positions because when they speak at these sub-regional bodies, it carries a lot of weight.
Of course, we’re also able to influence our own organisation, because we have a regional office that will share best practices from the country offices. At WaterAid, we try to influence the ministries of different countries, and it always helps when you say, “Well, this is already being done in Nigeria”. Sharing best practices can be really helpful, so we’re making sure that the things that we do are properly documented and that we are sharing it within the wider organisation. Then, of course, we try to do a lot of media interviews across Africa. I have done quite a lot across the West Africa region, so trying to influence through the media and beyond the borders of Nigeria.
Nigeria is densely populated, with large slums that still need access to toilets. What progress have you made and lessons can you share that would apply in other places?
Sanitation is a tough one because to be able to improve sanitation, people have to own toilets. It is not something that you can put in a central area like water that people go to fetch. You really need to have personal toilets, if not, most people will resort to open defecation. To have personalised toilets, they have to buy the toilets, because it is not sustainable to say that the government can provide toilets in people’s homes.
We have identified that there are three types of people who don’t own toilets. First, the people who can afford the toilets, but are accustomed to open defecation. These people don’t need a grant, they just need information on the toilets as something affordable and then they can pay for it. Second, there are people who know about toilets but can't afford the entire $80 or $100 that is required to build a complete toilet. Third, we have people who cannot afford the toilet at all. What we have found in the past is that a lot of people constructed toilets when they were told about the importance of sanitation and hygiene, but the quality of the toilets was so poor that during the rainy seasons they collapsed. So those people that spent the small amount of money they have in trying to build this toilet and then having the toilets collapse don’t want to hear about toilets anymore, they want to do open defecation.
We have launched a sanitation marketing programme, through which we’re trying to get small businesses to become interested in sanitation. What is very important for us is to train masons and bricklayers on how to properly set toilets so that there are no issues with them. We are also training the first set of door-to-door salespeople, and then attaching them to these entrepreneurs. The door-to-door salespeople get the business, they come to the toilet builders, and then they get a commission for every toilet that they build. It is a completely private sector-led approach that targets individuals who can afford toilets.
We are working with microfinance institutions to be able to provide finance to people that can afford part of the costs of a toilet to work with a monthly repayment plan. For those that can't afford it at all, we are working with the government to be able to provide toilets for this group of people. We’re pushing the SaTo Pans which are durable and cheap. They were developed by LIXIL and only cost about $3. We are also working with one of the state governments here to try and set up a plant for recycling human waste. In slum areas, once we make faeces a commodity, people will be able to take their waste to recycling centres where it can be transformed into a secondary product and they get paid for it. There is a lot to do, but as I said, many of these things need to be driven by the private sector and our role is to try and get the private sector awakened and aware of these different opportunities in the sanitation sector.
You transitioned from a women’s rights organisation to WaterAid, how have the rights of women and girls continued to be a part of your work at WaterAid?
Well, for me it was a very easy transition, it was actually one that I wanted to do because it is mostly women who fetch water, and it is mostly women who are affected by poor sanitation, so WASH solutions are a very practical way of addressing women’s issues. What I have brought to the table is to recognise women’s role in decision-making and to ensure that we are training women as toilet builders. That was a bit of a controversy when I came in because a lot of the men who were in the organisation assumed that women would not be interested since it requires a lot of hard labour to dig the toilets. I told them there is no way you are going to know if women are interested if you don’t even let the women know that this opportunity exists. I insisted that we train the women, and in our first training three women participated. We can see that there are women who are interested and who are willing to venture into the water and sanitation sector, so we have pushed for that. Coming from a women’s rights background, I always say: there is no difference between men and women except their physiology — aspirations, interests, they are the same, so if you expose women to the opportunities that men have, then you find that there will be women who are interested.
You have a PhD in Sociology, which is unique for a Country Director. How have your studies informed your work?
I actually became a sociologist because I wanted to work in development. Sociology looks at how groups and group behaviour influences society, and we recognise that nobody lives in a vacuum, nobody lives on their own — people are products of their communities. So, when it comes to development, we have come a long way in terms of our perspective in that just because something worked in the West, does not mean it will work in Africa. Previously, we didn’t understand how those communities were organised or what made people behave in a certain way and how change happens. I think this is exactly where my sociology has been extremely helpful. In being able to make change happen, I am constantly critical of our methodology, trying to make sure that we understand that even in the same country what works in one part of our country may not necessarily work in the next part. We need to understand the community in its totality and how they are organised. Sociology makes me understand that if you're bringing good, that good has to do no harm because you need to understand how the community functions in order to be able to bring about change that will be sustainable.
In 2018, Mission Talent placed Anabella Rosemberg in the role of International Programme Director at Greenpeace International (GPI). Previously, she worked at the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as a senior climate and environment advisor and has consulted for organisations such as the European Climate Foundation and Oil Change International. In this interview, she talks about how her union background prepared her for a global leadership role at Greenpeace, what it was like to work for two co-executive directors, and how to keep a big organisation agile to confront the fast-moving challenges of our time.
You’ve been the International Programme Director for just over a year, and you came into the organisation when it was going through a lot of change. How has the role been for you?
It has been an intense experience and also a very rewarding one. I think the organisation is rethinking itself for the right reasons: the environmental crisis is no longer something that only belongs to environmentalists. So we need to rethink what Greenpeace’s contribution is to the whole movement and ensure that we are contributing. It is a moment of change, but we are asking ourselves the right kind of questions and there is openness to some honest discussions and to figuring out new solutions to old problems.
Your previous background has been working with trade unions, which is somewhat unique within the context of Greenpeace. How has working with trade unions prepared you for working with Greenpeace?
There are two things of my previous job that I think helped me navigate this past year. The first is an understanding of the tensions in organisations that work in both the global North and global South, and that, at the same time, try to keep a united movement that is respectful and supportive of what people are doing in sometimes very difficult contexts. That is certainly something I brought with me and something that the environmental movement should strengthen even more, that historically northern-based organisations to have a greater understanding of the challenges that folks experience in different contexts.
The second one is more related to union culture. It's the understanding that people can rank behind a plan or a decision, provided that there has been a process that is clear enough for them to feel that they've been heard and also clarity on when and where decisions are made. Within the labour movement, I've always admired the capacity of folks to stand behind decisions that are not theirs but are for the benefit of the organisation moving in a clear and united direction. I cannot say that we’re there yet at Greenpeace. I think it's a very different culture, but it would certainly benefit from those clear processes of inclusiveness, but also clear decision-making that gets everyone into the future. Certainly, that's something I bring, and I think it is something that was also needed.
Many people had their eyes on GPI to learn lessons from a co-director model. As a member of the management team, how did you experience this?
It was a very interesting and amazing experience to see two women with very strong views and high ambition being able to deliver a joint vision, at the same time preventing any triangulation from affecting the organisation. The initial reaction in the organisation when they were both elected was, “how are we going to operate with two International Executive Directors (IED)?”, but then when Bunny McDiarmid announced she was leaving, the reaction was, “how are we going to operate with just one International Executive Director?”. I think it's a mark for success for the model. That being said, there is a different role for the senior management team (SMT) in a co-director space. In a one-IED model, the SMT plays the role of accompanying the direction of the IED as well as the sparring partner for the IED. When you have two directors, that need is somehow solved within the pair, so it points to a different role for the SMT in that setting – both of them interesting, but different.
Greenpeace, like many international NGOs, is going through a process to transition its power and leadership to the national and regional organisations (NROs). As a leader, how have you been working towards this decentralisation?
When I came in, I thought Greenpeace was already quite decentralised. It underwent that restructuring a while ago, in particular in terms of the decentralization of campaigns. The conversations in which we are right now are one step further: taking that decentralisation as a departing line, how do we ensure that we’re having the impact we should have based on our global footprint? It is understanding that we need to build on the knowledge that our offices have of their societies, and the choices they can make, but ensuring that Greenpeace as a global organisation is aiming at the impact it should have. From my perspective, that requires a stronger focus on the strategy that needs to be tightened to allow that decentralisation in an impactful way.
Today, campaigns quickly have to adapt to new trends and opportunities. How do you keep a large organisation such as Greenpeace agile to respond to opportunities and urgent needs as they come up, yet still stick to the overall strategy of Greenpeace?
I think we need to keep asking ourselves that question because I don't think we've cracked it. On the one side, Greenpeace is a fairly responsive organisation. It is relatively agile in responding to some conversations, but where we are focusing now is to improve on how we make those responses to better contribute to our campaign objectives. Generally, we tend to respond to things, but to what extent does that further our initial strategy? That is still unclear. In particular, with regards to responding to global conversations that are not necessarily environmental, for example, an economic crisis. How can we use those disruptive moments to help us further our agenda of environmental protection?
At this stage, we have identified three nuts that we need to crack. One is trusting each other. These crises happened in specific places where there is an office that is on the frontline, so we need to trust each other to design the kind of response and rank behind those who are doing so. The second one is having better decision-making processes designed in advance, that is, more protocols that allow for rapid response. This would reduce the noise around who is making a decision so that does not delay us in those moments. The third one is probably the most complex, and that is to get the organisation to look much more at what is happening outside than what is happening inside. Most of our campaigns are thought within, but opportunities and reality are outside. So, how do we turn our eyes to what is happening out there and how much time do we invest in looking at those trends and conversations? That is the critical part of being able to respond to opportunities better.
As a Latin woman, what advantages and disadvantages have you come across working in a global organisation in a senior leadership role?
First, there is an obligation to demonstrate that I am not in this position because of a ticking-boxes-exercise. In general, it is an extra burden that anyone who is not a man from the North would have. But when you "tick so many boxes" - you are a woman, you are from the South, you are a non-English speaker - you need to demonstrate that you have been hired because you can do the job and not just because you were ticking boxes.
That being said, diversity in leadership and in organisations brings disruption which can be seen as something positive or something negative - and it is probably a bit of both. Certainly, it brings different ways of tackling a problem, but the organisation needs to be ready to jump on a different way of tackling those problems. It really depends on whether the organisation is trying to become a more resilient organisation and, therefore, more diverse in order to cope with the diversity of the world out there, or if it prefers to be tighter in terms of its internal diversity. I think we are at a time in Greenpeace where diversity is welcome even if it is painful for many.
Probably one last thing is seeing people understand some of the privileges of my background. I went to university, I had supportive parents and a supportive partner, there are elements of privilege I also acknowledge for myself. What I would like to see is more people coming from very diverse backgrounds feeling that they have space and they can play that leadership role.
The climate crisis is such a huge challenge and at times it can seem insurmountable. What gives you hope and how do you keep your team motivated to work on some of the biggest challenges of our times?
Yesterday, I was reading a little children’s book with a quote of a writer I have always loved and admired, and it started with a sentence saying, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage”. When we’re thinking about the climate crisis, it is going to be with us until we leave this world. The thing that can give us hope or can prevent that sense of fear is the perception that we know why this is happening. We can attach reasons to what is happening and its causes, but also activate all possible means to change the situation from where we are. For the past 20 years that I have been working on climate, I have always told everyone that it is in action that we find hope. It is when we feel that we are doing the best we can at every single possible moment that we start seeing the potential and the possibility for human beings to transform the situation in which we are. Hope is never theoretical, it only comes from doing and believing in each other, and that is also from believing in each one of us changing to tackle it. Of course, I see the difficulty, but I also see how it changes when we are doing something, how it changes our connection to the crisis.
In October 2018, Mission Talent placed Masego Madzwamuse as the CEO for The Southern Africa Trust. Previously, she was the Team Leader for the Economic and Social Justice Cluster at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
In this interview, she talks about how she has built up the resources of The Trust so it can tackle a long term agenda; and connects the dots between poverty, conservation, climate, and trade in Southern Africa.
You have been the CEO at The Southern Africa Trust for almost a year. What have been the highlights for you thus far?
I joined The Trust at a time of multiple transitions, so there are a few highlights I’d like to share. First, I realised that there's a lot of partners who are committed to supporting an African-based and -led, grant-making organisation that play this critical role in policy advocacy. When I joined, like most non-profit organisations the Trust was faced with a challenge of sustainability driven by the changes in the funding landscape. Most of the funding agreements were coming to an end, but since then a number of donors have come on board to give us both operational support and programme support. The Ford Foundation has given us flexible funding to support our institutional capacity work and also have rallied behind our business and sustainability plan- a cutting edge space in our efforts for diversifying our funding base. One of the other partners who stepped up to our request for further support is the Mott Foundation which came on board with a three-year programme to support us in building a body of work around community philanthropy — making it possible for the Trust to continue with our grantmaking mandate. GIZ also came through with a three-year programme that is committed to keeping the voice of civil society within the regional integration agenda. The Open Society Foundation also stepped in to give us support for programmatic funding, having confidence from the relationship that I've had with them in the past, but also their own understanding of the role that The Trust plays in the region. Collectively, the funding that has come through has stabilised the funding base of the Trust for another two years, while we work on putting together a long-term sustainability plan.
The other thing that I'm quite excited about is that we have appointed a new board chair — Stigmata Tenga, the Executive Director of the African Philanthropy Network. When you have women in leadership, it brings an opportunity to craft an organisation that is committed to women’s empowerment within the SADC region, but also an organisation that is led through emotional intelligence, compassion and a focus on staff wellbeing as core to the institutional culture.
The third highlight is, that since 2016, the board and the management of The Trust have been discussing the establishment of an income generating arm of The Trust that would mobilise resources and develop partnerships with mission driven private sector and provide fee-for-services to governments, donors, and the development sector in general. Three works ago, the board fully endorsed the establishment of this new social enterprise, so we will be recruiting a business plan expert who is going to be driving that sustainability arm of the organisation. This is certainly a space to watch as we develop new partnerships and learn from the corporate and social impact investment field and a number of non-profit organisations looking into innovative sources of funding. The investment arm is critical for the Trust to continue with our grantmaking mandate and mission.
The Southern Africa Trust works to increase the voices of civil society and policymaking in Southern Africa to eradicate poverty. What are you focusing on currently and what issues do you see as most urgent in the region?
Our emphasis on amplifying the voices of poor people is to acknowledge and build on the social agency that those who are affected by poverty themselves have. We have continued to be committed to building the social movements that galvanise the political voice of the poor and organise them to be more influential as a collective. We’ve remained dedicated to providing direct support and platforms to the social movements and organisations that represent those groups, so we continue to work with the Southern African People’s Solidarity Network. We’re continuing to support the small-scale farmers through the Regional Farmers Association groups, and also putting emphasis in developing a programme and consolidating our work around women’s empowerment in support of the Rural Women’s Assembly. We also are continuing to work with the informal traders’ groupings through the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association. It’s quite critical that we continue to support these formations and seek out emerging movements, particularly as our governments are pushing big agendas around the continental free trade agreement and the SADC Industrialisation Plan. Trade is coming back into the African policy space as an important issue for unlocking economic development. We are emphasising the need for the continental trade agreement to be people-driven and responsive to the needs of people on the ground. I'm quite excited about that.
I think that work on community philanthropy is really important because it goes beyond unlocking funding for civil society to actually strengthen the voice and space for democratising development at the local level where policy implementation is taking place. In line with building proactive constituencies of the poor to effectively demand accountability we are reaching out to organisations that work in the humanitarian, development, and the environmental space pushing for intersectionality. For instance, next month, we’re going to be convening in Zimbabwe with Amnesty International, Oxfam, ActionAid, and the SADC Council of NGOs to draw lessons from the impact and the preparedness around which governments and civil society responded to the emergency that was presented by Cyclone Idai. In that space, what we are trying to do is to surface the issues from a community perspective and amplify them, so we’re going to be flipping the script and through a three-day process where we’re purely listening to the conversation driven by the communities; their experiences, needs, aspirations, and what they would like to see being done differently. This forms part of a broader conversation on how you build community resilience to climate change at a local level. It is a timely dialogue in this era of climate urgency, natural hazards will continue to occur as a result of climate change, however they do not need to be disasters if proper systems are developed on the ground and communities are equipped with the right knowledge and support.
The Southern Africa Trust’s mission is to strengthen the voices of poor people in policy processes, which is a unique mandate. How has The Trust helped poor people influence policy?
One of the examples is our work with cross border traders from Malawi where we negotiate between the customs authorities in Malawi and South Africa to ease customs procedures and reduce transaction costs for informal traders. While SADC has a free trade agreement in place, the agreement largely focuses on making it easier for business in the formal sector, The Trust has worked on some of the challenges that informal traders are facing. The ease of movement across borders is high on the agenda especially at borders where there are high-pressure points, like between Mozambique and South Africa, and South Africa and Zimbabwe. While the progress is happening at a bilateral level, we are hoping to upscale regional policy advocacy on movement of people at the SADC level. The recent signing of the continental free trade agreement offers an opportune moment to reignite the cross border traders movements.
Another practical example has to do with the reparation of social security benefits for ex-mine workers migrant workers. For a while, people who had worked in the South African mines were not able to access their benefits upon their return to home countries. Through funding from DFID, we’ve been working with the Department of Trade and Industry and the South African Miners Association and Health Focus to trace the beneficiaries and to begin the repatriation process. At a regional level, this work has opened up a conversation on regional social protection policy that is sensitive to labour migration patterns in the region. Relatedly, we have been working with FinMark Trust on opening up financial corridors for informal traders. There has been work between Lesotho and South Africa where migrant workers are able to remit some of their income back home through retail networks. For example, Shoprite has a money transfer programme that allows workers to remit their funds back to their home countries with very minimal transaction costs. This tags into a bigger agenda of financial inclusion for poor people.
You have a background in environmental science, and previously had a long career with the IUCN. Are environmental issues part of your work today?
Absolutely — the reason being that biodiversity, environment and natural resources are the GDP of the poor. If you think about it, for a lot of the agricultural communities, being dependent on rain-fed agriculture means that healthy ecosystems are important for supporting their livelihoods. The environment also plays a big developmental role within the Southern African in terms of wildlife and tourism — a number of countries highlight this sector as important for economic diversification. It is difficult for me to think about a poverty reduction and development agenda that is oblivious to environmental sustainability.
Climate change presents a major threat in terms of eroding the developmental gains that we have had in the region, and poor people are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. If our issue is really around amplifying the voice of poor people and reducing poverty and inequality, we can't ignore the space of climate policy. We have to be involved in making sure that climate change is responsive to those who are most affected.
From a policy advocacy point of view, we are looking at ways in which The trust can contribute to that discourse. There is a lot of work to be done in terms of building internal capacities, of understanding the links between climate change, social policy and development. A few partners have come on board to work closely with us, including UNEP, Resource Africa, Namibia Association of CBNRM Organisations (NACSO), Resilient Waters and a number of environmental organisations that have experience working in the space of community-based natural resource management. We are working together to amplify the voices of communities who are stewards of wildlife resources and highlighting the importance of increasing benefits and their roles and responsibilities within the management of the natural resources. This is very much part of the Trusts’ agenda to mobilise movements for accountability and strengthen the voice of the poor in public policy processes. While our partners bring sector specific expertise the Trust brings social and political advocacy networks.
There has been a lot of excitement over the growing movement for African philanthropy in recent years. How would you describe the state of African philanthropy and what trends do you see that are promising?
The growing collaboration between African philanthropists and development practitioners is encouraging because I think there is an opportunity for us to work towards a collective vision, drawing on the comparative advantages that the different actors bring. What I find really encouraging as well is that unlocking the resources within the continent and channelling them towards our own development priorities means that Africa is positioning itself to be in charge of shaping the narrative and taking charge of the direction that development is taking in the continent.
The other trend that I find quite encouraging has been in the work on community philanthropy. We have been looking into tapping into existing cultural practices of giving, but having conversations about how we organise and consolidate these practices and work with communities to identify collective programmes that they can contribute towards. These conversations unlock a strategic relationship between communities’ needs on the ground and the corporate social responsibility of the private sector. The strategic partnerships that are developing between NGOs and the private sector is an important space to keep looking into.
As a leader, it is always important to reflect on your skillset. What skills do you find that you specifically bring to the role that has made you successful?
I have really found my background as a development policy analyst, a conservation and environment practitioner, and my work in the human rights space useful in terms of thinking holistically about the work that we do. My background also has been beneficial in thinking through the kinds of partnerships that we need to have in place so that we can take the mandate of The Trust a step further — the networking capacity across the sectoral divide has been quite useful. Having come from a grant-making organisation with a fundraising background has been useful in enabling The Trust to think differently about the business and development and the sustainability direction that we are taking. The networks that I have and the experience I have engaging with the private sector, philanthropy and also the traditional donor landscape space, has been quite useful.
My creativity and flexibility have helped me to balance the multiple transitions that are needed within the organisation, while at the same time not losing sight of the importance of creating a positive environment within the team so that people keep inspired to do the very difficult work we have to push ahead.
As you look forward to the years ahead at The Southern African Trust, what are you excited about achieving?
I am excited about building financial sustainability of the organisation, which would make it possible for The Trust to continue being mission-driven and have the capacity to provide the support that is needed in the civil society space and to build the movements. I think that we do need a vibrant civil society in the region in order to hold our governments accountable for the delivery of development, and we need the strong voices of civil society to reduce poverty. As long as institutions like ourselves are caught up in short-term funding cycles, it makes it difficult to keep pushing for the long-term agenda, so I am looking forward to us having adequate resources in the next three years so that we can put our efforts on the work that is needed on the ground.
In 2017, Mission Talent placed Delphine Moralis in the role of Secretary-General at Terre des Hommes. She was previously Secretary-General for Missing Children Europe.
In this interview, she talks about the progress that has been made for children since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child thirty years ago, and what gives her hope despite the challenges facing children today.
You started as the Secretary-General of Terre des Hommes nearly two years ago. How has this experience been?
It’s been both exciting and challenging. I came from an organisation working with children in the context of disappearance and sexual exploitation, Missing Children Europe, where I had been for 12 years. I had helped to set up the network and felt very close to it. Hence, leaving the organisation was quite a difficult decision on a personal level. But I have been really pleased to join Terre des Hommes, an organisation with an inspiring and rich philosophy and history, which brings together people with a passion for their mission and who fulfil their role with humility and skill. I’m excited to be part of this amazing family.
However, we are living in challenging times for INGOs and we all feel that civil society space is under threat. We have been probed to rethink our role and way of working, assessing how we can make the most relevant and legitimate contributions to the people we serve. For example, a major safeguarding crisis occurred within one of our fellow INGOs in February 2018, just weeks after I joined TDH. It really affected the whole sector, and somehow came as a symptom of a more fundamental underlying crisis. As organisations, we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions, and we need to respond to those questions and challenges fast and thoroughly.
Was there anything that really surprised you that you did not expect coming into the role?
I have been positively surprised within Terre des Hommes about the willingness and appetite to improve the way that we work together. In the first board meeting after I joined, my board suggested a comprehensive strategic review process. It’s been really exciting for me to rethink our structure and way of working with the aim of increasing our impact and voice, and to be the best organisation we can be for children and young people around the world.
Another surprise was the diversity and wide range of expertise within the Terre des Hommes network. This is a great strength within our organisation, but it’s also a challenge if we want to focus and scale-up our impact and add value to wider sector efforts.
I have also been positively surprised that the child-focused agencies that Terre des Hommes works alongside are maturing and becoming more self-reflective about how we achieve more together. One very clear example of that is the Joining Forces Initiative. It’s a cooperation between the six largest child-focused agencies who understand that we need to put our logos and egos aside to unite our contributions more effectively in order to have the impact that children need in the world today.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and it’s an important year for children’s rights. What is Terre des Hommes’ message?
This CRC has had such a major impact on transforming the lives of millions of children. Since the adoption of the Convention, there has been new legislation designed to protect children and increased investments in services that children need. It has been instrumental in generating help for more children to have their voices heard. It’s clear that today, children are overall healthier, better nourished and educated, and more protected in law than ever before. But we also know that there is a huge amount of work that remains and that the progress we have made is constantly under threat.
A report we co-drafted with colleagues from Joining Forces has clear evidence that the scale of the challenge is increasing. For instance, more than 5 million children die every year from preventable causes, over 60 million children do not go to primary school, and 152 million children worldwide are still trapped in child labour. There is a specific group of children who remain explicitly underprotected. These are children who live in conflict-affected fragile states, extreme poverty, or belong to excluded social groups. Many countries have failed to fully translate the obligations from the Convention into policy and practice, so that’s also an area that raises concern. We also see the escalating climate crisis and increasing inequality both within and between countries impacting children worldwide since it threatens to escalate global conflict and stability. This is against the backdrop of a global political stage where countries are openly challenging the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In a nutshell, we've made tremendous progress with this instrument, but the time is really urgent for us to spur on a second revolution for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as called for by Joining Forces. The challenges aren't over and the threats are perhaps bigger than we generally tend to understand, so we need to be able to focus on moving forward in making the promises of the Convention a reality. We really can’t wait for another generation for the change to happen.
Terre des Hommes is known for its Destination Unknown campaign, which focuses on children on the move. Do you see any improvement for migrant children at the moment at all?
I am very concerned about the situation of child migration. While migration can open up many opportunities for children and communities, it also leads to children being exposed to extreme risks, including death, recruitment into armed groups, school dropouts, child labour, and child marriage. Sadly we are living in a political climate where the general discourse is moving more and more towards restriction, and migrant children are suffering through being deprived of their basic needs such as access to health, accommodation, and education. I am surprised to see that migration is linked to the portfolio on security in the new configuration of the European Commission portfolios. This certainly worries me.
Although the scale of the problem is massive, there are also some hopeful developments. First, there is a lot of goodwill at a grassroots level from people working to be welcoming towards migrants and refugees. Many NGOs, charities, youth-led initiatives and others are doing a lot of amazing work to make sure that children see their rights fulfilled. For instance, we recently published a booklet entitled Making Life Better for Children on the Move, which outlines best and promising practices for supporting children on the move and working with them. It’s really inspiring to browse through that publication and see the good work being done and how these examples can be replicated. And we know that it is not only the children who benefit but also the communities who welcome them.
Second, at the end of 2018, the Global Compacts on safe, orderly migration, and on refugees were adopted. These instruments can provide life-changing developments for children on the move, whether it is about family reunification, cross-border cooperation or providing access to education. Together with 30 other civil society organisations and UN agencies, Terre des Hommes is working on an initiative, which is called the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts. We are one of the co-chairs of this initiative and are working hard to unpack both compacts for the provisions to become a reality and to change the lives of children on the move. We need to embrace the creativity, strength, and resilience these children have to offer, and the positive contribution they can make to our societies.
You are leading a federated international organisation, which must be very challenging. What kind of management and leadership skills have you used to succeed in this context?
The capacity to listen is really essential if you want to lead an international federated organisation. I think you need to develop the skill to empathically understand people — their views, interests, realities, where they're coming from and why they are motivated to think and act the way they do.
My approach is also to consider all these different positions and views in accordance with the organisation’s mission. I believe we should put the interest of the people we serve first, rather than the individual interests of the members of the Federation. Ultimately, our mission is what binds us and allow us to overcome challenges along the way. Having a long-term vision and dedication to the mission beyond what lives in the federation is essential if you want to move forward.
Another key skill you need is to have quite a good dose of patience. You need to accept the fact that in federated international organisations it’s always going to be two steps forward and one step back. We need to rely on the fact that small steps in the right direction are still progress. Sometimes the pace is slow, but it’s better to continue to move in the right direction than to not move at all. Working together in a bigger group of very diversified people is going to be more difficult than doing things on your own, but then again, doing things together is going to deliver more results and impact than what you would get if you were just doing it on your own.
The field of children’s rights has advanced a lot in recent years to include children’s voices and opinions. What is Terre des Hommes’ approach to children’s participation?
Child and youth participation is one of our core pillars. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is our conceptual framework and a guiding basis for the activities of Terre des Hommes. Article 12 of the Convention stipulates that all children have the right to be heard on matters affecting them, and this is at the heart of how we do our work. We have a lot of experience in supporting children and young people in their participation in projects, and we do invest in making sure that children’s views are heard and taken into account.
We're currently working on an initiative to ensure that we learn from each other and scale-up child participation within the organisation. We'll have an expert meeting on this in October and I'm really looking forward to this. Also, in the context of our strategic review, we’ll be focusing on how to make child participation even more embedded within everything that we do, both operationally and at a governance level. There are some good practices within Terre des Hommes that we can learn from. Our German member organisation, for instance, has a really exciting model of involving partners and children in making strategic decisions. They also have an international youth network that leads exciting campaigns. There are similar practices in other member organisations, so we have a lot to learn from within our own network. We want to unite to have an even bigger impact and to make sure that those whose lives we are talking about are steering and leading the way — it’s not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.
In 2016, Mission Talent placed Velina Petrova in the role of Knowledge for Impact Director at Oxfam International. She previously held various roles setting up systems for evidence building, monitoring, evaluation and learning at organisations like CARE, Creative Associates International, ChildFund International and Rare.
In this interview, she talks about what it means to lead a learning agenda across a complex global organisation that is always challenging the status quo—both of itself and the world.
You joined Oxfam almost three years ago, in the role of Knowledge for Impact Director, a new position at the time. How has this experience been for you so far?
The experience has been captivating because I face creative tensions every day. When I joined, Oxfam had many ideas and much valuable experience in knowledge and learning for impact. But it also offered plenty of room for me to think, vision, and co-create with others just what this knowledge for impact mandate and agenda could be. As a result, I get to stand on the shoulders of giants every day, but I also get to look and reach further. I am still deeply humbled by everything Oxfam has achieved and learned throughout its history – and at the same time inspired to see how we can do better. This is a captivating combination, especially for someone in the knowledge and learning field.
What are you working on now that you are excited about?
My team is a group of truly brilliant and richly experienced people who make my days at Oxfam a joy. We have been quietly working on transforming some core organisational processes into more knowledge-driven ones. Our task is to ensure that organisational processes are done in a knowledge-based way because our success comes when others feel better equipped to apply what they have learned and to share the experience. At the moment, we are embarking on a journey of exploration and experimentation. We will accompany a process that will transform Oxfam’s presence in some countries and regions, building our relevance and impact in social enterprise and in new forms of evidence-based influencing and programming. I am happy that we are bringing an explicit knowledge and learning lens to this process. Ask me again a year from now – I will be excited to share the learning from what we have done well and not so well in this undertaking!
Your team has recently completed a new type of evaluation of Oxfam’s 2013-2019 strategic plan. Can you tell us about this?
We had a dual goal when working on the strategic plan evaluation: accountability and learning. First, we wanted to describe some of the results that we achieved which we saw as transformative in the world, and also some of the things that we didn’t achieve as well as we had planned in our strategy. Second, we wanted to have the explicit goal of learning because it’s one thing to describe results, and it’s quite another to honestly and carefully look at how you achieved them when you did, or why not when you didn’t. We have eight approaches typical to Oxfam work, what we think of as Oxfam’s “secret sauce”: active citizenship; thought leadership; influencing; impact at scale; partnership; knowledge and learning; program approach; and putting women’s rights at the heart of all we do.
We looked at them one by one, and in combination, to see in which contexts and in which cases they did help us, and where we did not quite manage to apply them as well. Ultimately, we’ve written one part on results and one part on approaches. What it’s done for us is we have not only been able to be accountable in describing results, but we’ve also started to be able to strategise a lot more carefully and with more learning on what approaches we need to continue investing in.
So, that is how we have shifted the conversation a bit. It has been exciting to see senior management and global teams become engaged around the approaches and then the results become examples of them, rather than sort of, ‘here is a 50-page statement on results’, and it is a bit hard to know what to do with that.
How do you see the culture of Oxfam as a learning organisation and how do you promote that culture?
Internally, Oxfam is extremely self-critical. Unlike other organisations, where this can be more relaxed, in some cases, Oxfam is much more critical of its own work and ways of working, internally, than others are of it, externally. From a learning perspective, that’s a great culture to be in, because the organisation sets high standards for itself in everything that it does, and there is a constant drive to improve. Of course, it could lead you to some analysis paralysis, in the way that your strengths are also your downfalls. But the culture is one of very high standards and calibre of people coupled with very demanding ideas of what good work means.
I think the way to promote it is to both build on and nurture this, and at the same time in some ways to “smallify” things a little bit. With the knowledge and learning culture, it’s people’s daily micro-behaviours and micro-habits that make a big difference. Doing one small step better each day or asking one additional question in a reflection on programme quality, matters. If we want this to be the culture – the way people work and behave when no one is watching – we need to break down each big ambition Oxfam has to people’s daily behaviours and habits.
As a confederation, Oxfam has been decentralising for many years and putting power in national leadership. How does your position help the national leadership of Oxfam to succeed?
Oxfam is, first and foremost, the 10,000 people who work, create, think, face problems, find solutions, and breathe life into everything Oxfam stands for, day in and day out. As a team, we have had an agenda of “democratising” our knowledge culture within the confederation. This is about acting on the belief that everyone is part of the knowledge and learning enterprise – but that some voices are not sought, heard, and valued when it comes to knowledge generation. This is true not only within Oxfam but in the world as well. So, this effort is about changing where, how, and by whom the knowledge and learning agenda is set, and whose knowledge is valued. We are seeking to promote a learning agenda by and for the Global South [and East], with feminist principles, and with more diverse definitions of the forms that knowledge can take. You could see this through the lens of gender, or race, or language, etc. You could use a more traditional human-resources take on diversity, and that would already be a big step in the right direction. But it is also more than that: it is about cognitive diversity. And I think that is the area where Oxfam needs to go next and where I think the world needs to go next. We want to live Oxfam’s transformative agenda on inequality – first at home, internally, in our own knowledge culture within the organisation.
How have you seen monitoring and evaluation be catalytic for Oxfam both internally, in how the organisation works, and externally, in fundraising, influencing or advocacy?
Our knowledge fabric – the way we conceive it and practice it at Oxfam – is much more than our monitoring and evaluation work. We invest significantly in research. We do various assessments, reflection, sense-making, and learning exercises, as both one-offs and as longer accompanied processes. Most of all, we work under the assumption that everyone generates knowledge and learns every day in everything that they do — regardless of whether that is running an evaluation, a budget, a communications strategy, or a procurement process.
Internally, it has been catalytic when we have evaluated and concertedly learned from, then strategised around, “how” we get to impact. Many MEL efforts tend to focus on accountability for demonstrating results – this is, of course, hugely important. But at Oxfam, we are now increasingly seeing strategies focused on “how” results are achieved, who we need to be, how we need to be equipped in order to keep adding value in changing environments. This is both inspired by some MEL work we’ve done and inspiring us to figure out how to do MEL for it better.
Externally, there are various well-known examples of Oxfam using its knowledge to influence for change: from our overall inequality work to women’s unpaid care, even to responsible data practices (in the realm of influencing MEL practice itself!). These efforts have been catalytic because they have combined knowledge for impact contributed not only by MEL, but also by campaigns, programme implementation, policy, research, communications, and more. Our best efforts and our most influential knowledge solutions happen when many people come together to co-create them.
One of the goals of Knowledge for Impact Director is positioning Oxfam as a knowledge-based organisation, collaborating with strategic partners – how are you doing that and what has been your proudest achievement?
We think of partnership as part of our organisational DNA, principles, and ways to add value in the world and not only as the instrumental means to operational ends. We are helping Oxfam programme staff reframe the narrative and practice of partnership to incorporate more strategic, longer-term alignments of interests and to ensure that the co-creation of solutions and mutual support for learning between Oxfam and its partners are always part of the relationship. For example, supported by an ongoing collaboration with the Partnership Brokers’ Association, we did several experiments in countries and regions that generated learning about what constitutes good partnering. The experiments included a range of initiatives, such as learning from new and unusual partnerships, the development of tools and guidance in partnership brokering, working out how to engage social movements and collectives, developing community feedback approaches, and more. Going forward, we will use these experiences to develop a blended learning approach for partnership. At the end of the day, we don’t always get it right in partnership. But I am proud that we ask the feedback of our partners, that we experiment how to be better together, and that we actively seek to learn and improve.
It must be challenging to lead across member and network-driven organisations. What are some of the advantages you see in this kind of model? What strategies do you use as a leader to keep everyone engaged?
It is challenging because we constantly have to assess which problems call for simple solutions and protocols for uniformity and efficiency across members of the confederation, and which ones are best addressed by multiple, diverse approaches better fit for complexity. From a knowledge for impact perspective, I cannot help but to see advantages: the pressing problems of our time, the ones that really matter, are complex, multifaceted, thorny, wicked, and not solvable by command-and-control ways of thinking or doing. Solutions to them will require the knowledge, learning, and wisdom of many, and the ability to figure out how to bring these together and co-create answers.
I have a favourite quote about Ashby’s law of requisite variety. It goes something like this, “the internal diversity of any self-regulating system must match the variety and complexity of its environment if it is to deal with the challenges posed by that environment.” This also guides the strategy of keeping everyone engaged: work with purpose and build your collaborations and alliances around purpose, not around activities, deadlines, or steps. As the Knowledge for Impact Team at Oxfam, we get to be advocates, thought and resource partners, provocateurs, challengers, and critical friends across the confederation because we build relationships that focus on shared purpose and on the knowledge we can together generate around it.
Giovanna Alvarez-Negretti is the Executive Director at The Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN). She was previously Regional Director for the Middle East for the American Friends Service Committee in Jordan, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of ¿Oíste? The Latino Political Organization based in the US.
In this interview, she talks about what it means to be an organizer and an activist in our rapidly changing and digitally-connected world.
You have joined OPEN as their second Executive Director just a few months ago. Can you already share some impressions?
The OPEN network is a fantastic organisation — the leading global organisation seeking to build a sustainable global movement for progressive change. We connect and support national digital campaigning organizations around the world who provide opportunities for activists to influence national and international politics. By providing resources and building deep connections between the staff and volunteers who support these grassroots changemakers, OPEN strengthens and expands this powerful movement. Given my experience in advocacy, civic engagement, political participation and campaigning, and management in different contexts around the world, I feel like I am at the right place at the right time, with the right skill sets to take the organization to the next level. The OPEN network is coming out of its start-up phase. The focus now is to ensure that everything works really well internally so we can better serve our members as we also continue our growth to include more countries from the Global South. I am blown away by the tremendous impact and continued potential of OPEN in today’s world.
Leading a network-driven organisation like OPEN can be challenging. What advantages do you see in such a set-up?
By fostering deep trust and facilitating sharing in this global community of campaigners, technologists and organisers, we have created a one-of-a-kind space for expertise to rapidly cross borders. Through OPEN, our member organisations swap new ideas, technology and innovations. This cross-pollination of campaigns and strategies influences national political moments and social trends, which in turn shape our global political landscape.
Therefore, our impact is deep. From kids being released from Australian detention camps to the first pro-LGBT ad campaign in India, a grassroots Green New Deal movement in Canada to the fight for equitable access to mobile data in South Africa, OPEN member organisations and the activists who power them are transforming everyday people’s lives for the better, campaign by campaign. Thus the setup is, in essence, our collective strength.
How do you keep all the members engaged and motivated?
We engage members in several ways. We catalyse and support joint initiatives between member organisations on shared multi-national goals. We then connect the organisations to each other, facilitating the forging of relationships between members of staff teams, and provide the infrastructure for them to share resources and innovate together. I just recently went to a our global summit where knowledge and experiences were shared and debated by representatives of all 19 organisations. It was incredibly critical and inspiring. When you have those gatherings, not only do you have the learnings and the exchanges, but it also really recharges your battery to understand that you're not alone in this. We call it Resist and Regenerate because we have to continue the resistance, but we also have to regenerate ourselves.
OPEN is more tech and digital-driven than other organisations that you worked with before. How did you adjust to this?
I looked at this challenge in two ways. One, I played to my strengths. At the end of the day, organising is organising and technology is just a tool that enhances it. A good friend said to me that technology is only as good as the people behind it. I figured that I am good at organising and campaigning and I am a fast learner. Second, this way of thinking led me to reach out and learn as much as I could on the subject. During the interview process, I contacted folks in my network who were experts in the digital mobilisation field, many of them working in current political campaigns or with companies that develop mobilisation technology. I asked them all types of questions and learned quite a bit. I shared my learnings in the interviews and that was received really well. Now that I am in the position, I have made it a priority to continue learning on the subject, and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the basics, enough to help me perform my job well and contribute. It's a continuous journey as technology keeps evolving.
Right now, we are seeing this rise of right-wing and extremist governments everywhere — what gives you hope and motivation and how do you pass this on to your team?
Before coming into this job, I was like everybody else in the world. I was shocked about what is going on and unsure what I could do as an individual person, because what is happening is just too overwhelming. What gives me hope is activism; ordinary people pooling their voice, time and action to make their nations — and with them the world — more sustainable, inclusive, peaceful, democratic, equal and fair. Each organization that is part of OPEN provides folks with the necessary tools to organize on the issues they care about. What brings me hope is being part of an organization where we see purpose-built movement organisations dedicated to achieving this vision wherever there is demand for greater grassroots strength on behalf of justice. When we help these organisations become more powerful, efficient and wise by connecting, supporting and inspiring each other across borders - I feel like we have a chance to turn things around together. The need, in fact, is urgent. So we remind each other every day that, in the face of far-right projects rising around the world, it is more important than ever for the global progressive movement to build trust and connections, pool their knowledge and resources and win together. The OPEN network makes that happen.
All together, the OPEN network has a collective membership of 23 million people in different countries working daily to counter the far-right, many under very difficult conditions and circumstances. Knowing that people are so resilient and ready to resist, should give us all a sense of hope.
Being a Latin woman, what are your thoughts about the lack of women of colour in a position such as yours?
When I first considered applying for this position, I looked at the job description and I thought, I don’t have enough digital experience so I won’t apply, even though I had all the other required skills and experience. Research has shown that this happens often with women. We expect a lot of ourselves and this sometimes keeps us from pursuing things that we know we could be good at and can contribute to. This is at times intensified, I believe, by being a person of color. Our way of being is different, our approach is different and we don't “fit” into the mainstream thinking. We look different, dress different, have an accent, have cultural idiosyncrasies, we relate to people in different ways, all of this has an effect on how we act and how we are perceived. There is discrimination, racism and misogyny in the world, and this all contributes to the lack of women in leadership positions.
In my case, I come from a small island in the Caribbean. At times, I have felt intimidated by international roles. English is my second language and my vocabulary sometimes falls short. I hug people. I wear hoop earrings and red lipstick. I talk and laugh loud. I wear feminine clothes. I am very conscious of all these things as I move around in different spaces. This type of thinking can limit your professional development. I have chosen to embrace all these things and see them as strengths and contributions I bring to the table into how I see the world, relate to people and make choices.
Additionally, as a person of colour, I have a wealth of understanding and firsthand knowledge about class, race, ethnicity, culture, bias, and national context because I have lived and am living those realities. I believe it is quite powerful, particularly if you're talking about organisations that want to be inclusive and value-driven. I encourage women of colour to embrace who you are, the knowledge that you bring, and the incredible strength that you have. Think strategically about how you’re going to use those strengths to benefit yourself and the world and then do it.
I have to say that Mission Talent was particularly well positioned and experienced to help me, as a woman candidate of colour, to go through the interview process successfully. I felt valued, understood and supported throughout.
Dr. Suchi Gaur is the Lead, Global Engagement and Strategic Communications at the World YWCA, based in Geneva. She joined the World YWCA in 2018, after working in communication, gender, health and community mobilisation in India and South-East Asia. In this interview, she talks about what young women have in common all over the world, and what it means to ‘walk the talk’ for a global feminist organisation.
You moved from a regional role in South-east Asia to an international organisation in Geneva about a year ago. What advice would you give your past self about this big move?
One of the best decisions I have made in my life has been to make this move to a global position in Geneva, the hub of international NGOs. The advice I would give my past self would be to be more open and prepared for people from different cultures coming together and the implication of this on the way of working, including the cultural difference being in Europe. Working with international organisations comes with learning the art of managing the challenges around global teams. For anyone who wants to make this transition, my suggestion would be to have an open mind to challenges. There are a lot of cultural differences. Geography, food, environment, language — and everything affects you, so unless you are open to challenges, things might not be as pretty as they seem.
What are you most proud of that you’ve achieved so far?
When I joined the World Office, there were these amazing communication channels, but they missed the common thread of being strategically aligned. The office was undergoing transition. One of the things that I'm proud about, is that I have been constantly pushing everyone, including myself, to link communications and engagements in terms of enhancing our movement’s global brand value along with creating more entry points for young women to join the vision. I've been consistent in helping the office shape a vision towards making communication more effective. Change is never easy and it never comes smooth. But with change comes the ease of enhancing impact in the current global development environment.
Earlier this year, we sent a callout to start a global communications group and we now have 20 plus national member associations representatives, with more to join. Previously, each of the 109 member associations working with us globally did so without us having a one on one, group based link to any of their communication point of contacts, which meant that they were not engaged well in our branding activities. Now, we are consulting this group, asking them what will work and what is not working. From a brand perspective, one thing I am proud of is that we are now engaging the movement more into the process of developing the brand rather than just implementing it. We are also starting a young women’s social media champion group where young women are going to work with us and receive training in movement building, campaigning, through social media. Because it’s an organisation for young women, we are involving young women in the very fabric of creation of messages, selection of issues and doing campaigns and collaborations with others out there.
When you're working with young women across so many cultural contexts, what commonalities do you see?
All young women I have worked with, met and spoken to have stories to share. They have stories of success. They have stories of failures. They just need the right platforms to share them, advocate the issues around them, in a way that impact can happen. We have a young woman from Nepal who is working with us very closely. She has these stories of child marriage and runaway child brides from Nepalese villages, and how they have successfully gained a new life, with support of the local YWCA, that you're mesmerised listening to them. Another young woman from Kenya has shared many stories of FGM (female genital mutilation) impact on survivors with us. I have met women from Sri Lanka with inspirational stories of young women working in tea plantations. Despite all the global gaps and cultural and regional divisions, these stories are connecting us to each other because they evoke something in every young woman. This is the driving force behind the need for change. The YWCA movement is full of such stories of success and challenges. Through our upcoming ventures, the World YWCA is trying to see how to map them, connect these young women for consultation and sharing experiences, and then convert these into evidence-based advocacy work.
It can be difficult to work within a networked organisation — what skills do you see leaders needing to do this kind of work, and what skills do you have that have made you successful in this context?
There are a number of skills that complement each other in this context. Networked organisations like the YWCA movement are a very diverse system to function with. A mind-set of inclusivity in leaders is extremely important. Being compassionate, understanding and accepting of the differences yet goal oriented is a must when working in different parts of the world.
The other skill set needed, especially with youth-based organisations, relates to intergenerational collaboration. It is a big strength to have different age groups working in an organisation to keep the mission relevant while integrating generational wisdom.
My biggest learning as a leader has been that while it is important to make your voice heard, it is also critical to remain goal oriented to the larger vision. What happens easily in feminist organisations is that the goal is lost, because everyone is trying to be inclusive. How you work those dynamics is a big challenge, and I try to bring my feminist principles and my leadership principles together under the responsibility of ensuring that everything aligns to a key initiative or goal.
Which aspects of the YWCA global conference, the upcoming World Council in South Africa, are you looking forward too?
It is an exciting time with 300-500 global women and young women coming together. Everyone is super excited about the theme i.e., Young Women Transforming Power Structures for Gender Equality and the location — South Africa, which is so rich and culturally known for women’s movements. The World YWCA is looking forward to some amazing young women-led and focussed consultations and workshops, where we will be bringing great suggestions on how to further implement the bold transformative Goal 2035.
The Council will be a platform where young women will be leading the process of furthering engagement and integration of young women into the processes rather than just given spaces to share voices at the podium.
Feminist organisations always face the challenge of walking the talk. How are young women integrated into the work of gender equality, not just as project managers and beneficiaries, but as decision-makers, do-ers and driving forces? For example, young women together are designing our feminist research methodology which will be shared at the World Council. They are the ones defining how we should consult amongst each other for not just what thematic areas to focus on, but also how. This means, young women are not being seen as mere participants but are driving the processes as they see it making sense for the young women.
You recently returned to work after having your first child and which you have written about. This is an experience so many people have, but our society still does not do a good enough job supporting young families. How has this experience informed your work?
The day I found out I was pregnant, the first thought in my mind was that I have to warn my potential new employer in case they would prefer someone else to take on this role. But my current boss, our General Secretary, Casey Harden reassured me that YWCA is a feminist movement and that pregnancy is such an important phase for a woman which we need to embrace and support. It just strengthened my commitment towards this role because World YWCA made that commitment too — I realised I have to work harder, I have to work smarter, I have to give this more than my 100%.
Even though I applied for day-care while I was pregnant, I haven’t yet been assigned a facility by the Canton of Geneva. Process in Switzerland are very centralised and so, access to daycare facilities aren't easy. This is a problem for working women like me who want to smoothly move back into their jobs post the exhausting process of giving birth. Now, my daughter and my husband come along with me to work. We share the responsibilities of raising our daughter. My colleagues help me and take her on their breaks too sometimes. Constantly breastfeeding in the office is not easy, but there is an element of comfort because my team regards it as normal. It is very important for women to have such a supportive work environment. Women work spaces need to be supportive and conducive to the different roles played by women. This is what walking the talk means at the end and I am extremely lucky that our General Secretary and the whole World YWCA team has been supportive of this process.
We are in a movement where anything we are doing is actually showcasing and setting standards for the outside world to see that things can be done differently. As a women's movement, what you do, and how you walk the talk is actually how the world will look at you and your organisation. This experience has not only made me more receptive to the needs at work space but also the flexibility has helped me become more committed to making my work productive. I juggle at times but I balance it with defining what work will be done when. Feminist workspaces like these showcase that good work cultures mean more than just 9 to 5 work hours, and are aimed at productivity and embracing challenges to make work possible.
When I share with friends and professional colleagues about how the office has been so supportive, the immediate reaction is that “that is so amazing, it is a dream for us women to work in such environments”. This is a reminder that we have a long way to go till we make work spaces for women conducive for them to grow and embrace their challenges.
In August 2018, Mission Talent placed Aura Freeman as Head of Campaigns – Animals in Disasters at World Animal Protection. She previously worked in human rights as a senior campaigner with Amnesty International and with the United Nations, covering issues from LGBT and refugee rights, to FGM and ending slavery.
Before you joined World Animal Protection, you were a campaigner and researcher for human rights for various NGOs. How did you manage this shift from human to animal rights?
I had never worked in animal welfare before joining World Animal Protection, but what really helped was my campaigner skillset. The approach is very much the same: there's a problem and we want to change something in the system. This involves building a strategy, identifying the kinds of tools and tactics that you can use to influence your target audience, and hopefully, get the outcome that you desire.
I did read up a little bit about animal welfare before joining, but I've also had a chance to now learn about it in a more systematic way within the organisation. I think it’s really great that you can shift from one thematic area to another because that flexibility allows you to bring in new perspectives as well. My human rights background has certainly helped me navigate this area with a bit of a different viewpoint and that's been very good.
Bright Ekweremadu is the Country Director of CBM in Nigeria, an organisation working to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the poorest countries worldwide. He was previously the Managing Director at Society for Family Health (SFH), where he served for 14 years.
How have you enjoyed the first months with CBM? What has surprised you about your new role?
I have been here for about three months, and it has been really exciting. I have wonderful colleagues in the country, regional, and international offices as well as the member associates — who are all very helpful, experienced and passionate about their work. It is very motivating and reassuring that I am in the right place.
One major surprise that struck me a few days after I joined is that CBM’s is not as widely known in Nigeria. Even though CBM started here in 1968, it is more known through the work done by its programme implementation partners than by itself. I think we all have to work on making CBM’s name known a lot more — not to take the glory, but for people to know that there is an organisation supporting these partners and their great work.
If you reflect on your transition from Society for Family Health to CBM, how do the two organisations compare in terms of organisational culture and challenges?
Although SFH and CBM both work in health, the two organisations have very different focus areas. At SFH, the focus is on HIV prevention, malaria, and neonatal, maternal and child health. At CBM, the overarching focus is on disability inclusiveness, which is something that is completely new to me. In Nigeria, there are a large number of people living with disabilities and nobody is listening to them or taking care of them.
Both organisations face the challenge that the Nigerian government is still not contributing as it should to public health. It is really unfortunate that the international donor agencies are the ones funding health improvement projects, and the Nigerian government is riding in the backseat. That is gradually changing, but it is going to take some more time before we get to a comfortable level.
What challenges do you see for people with disabilities in Nigeria?
I am very concerned about how persons with disability are surviving in internally displaced people’s camps. If people who are not physically challenged are finding life difficult in such situations, I can only imagine what the disabled are going through. This is one area where CBM has carved a strong niche for itself, although working in conflict areas is a major challenge for us. On a daily basis, I worry about the safety of the staff and partners. They get up in the morning and go into what I would call a battlefield to make sure that they are reaching people. The Government forces are there to help as well as the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO). INSO gathers information about safety issues in the Northeast and we get online immediate alerts once there is an issue at any place and we circulate the information to our staff members. This has been very helpful.
What projects are you currently excited about?
The Seeing is Believing project really excites me. It is a comprehensive eye health programme targeting children under five and it has made a lot of impact with regards to preventable eye problems because children are screened at a young age. For example, recently the Albino Foundation in Nigeria had a national awareness conference where a large number of albinos gathered. We used that opportunity to conduct free screenings for all participants and treating eye problems that would have gone unaddressed otherwise.
Mental health is a major problem in Nigeria and many people are walking around with stigma and are not being helped, so I am excited about the Comprehensive Mental Health Project that is being implemented by the Methodist Church in Nigeria through its NGO subsidiary called Comprehensive Community Mental Health Programme (CCMPH) based in Oturkpo in Benue state. We are currently expanding the project to Borno, which is one of the states where the insurgents have been wreaking havoc since 2009. There are a lot of psychosocial issues associated with people who leave their homes and stay in these camps, so this project could help a lot of people recovering from this trauma.
As a senior leader in Nigeria, what do you consider the key skills a good Country Director needs to bring to the health sector to make an impact?
First and foremost, you need strong advocacy skills in order to see that the relevant policies are promoted and implemented. You also need a strong network and networking skills to partner with government and other organisations. Also, you must have team building and people skills to be able to build a trusting team, socialise and get involved.
What impact did the recent elections in Nigeria have on topics like disability-inclusive development and inclusion as a whole? What challenges or changes do you expect?
An estimated 25% of people have some form of disability, yet at the most basic level, disabled people were hardly considered during the planning stages of the election. Something has to be done so that they are able to exercise their right to vote. The Government of Nigeria should strategically consider the inclusion of disabled people in governance — as is the case in most African countries. But until disabled people are included in government, they cannot be represented adequately, they need to be on the table when decisions are being made so that they are able to speak on behalf of their membership.
Unfortunately, the umbrella organisation of persons with disability in Nigeria seems to have been embroiled in a leadership crisis. This is one area where I want to get involved, to ensure that the trouble gets resolved amicably so that this group can present a common front. This would help them to confront the challenges facing them as a team so that they can speak for themselves and fight for their place at the decision-making table at both the state and federal levels.
If you look at the public health situation in West Africa as a whole, what progress do you see and what gives you hope?
The health indices in almost every country in West Africa are poor. Over 80% of people in West Africa pay for their health out of pocket despite a large number of people living below the poverty line. Recently Ghana has made progress because of its ability to embrace a health insurance scheme. Nigeria has a national health insurance scheme, but it is not working as effectively as it should. Although some state governments in Nigeria have started their own insurance schemes, it will be difficult for them to be effective if the national health insurance scheme is not working well. Both need to be rejuvenated.
Another priority is that healthcare centres need to be strengthened in terms of structure and equipment-- and more importantly in terms of human resources. Our tertiary institutions are supposed to handle only referral cases, but they have become places where people go to for primary ailments. However, there is renewed interest at the federal and state level to rebuild the primary healthcare system. The states of Lagos and Delta are piloting arrangements where private institutions run the primary healthcare centres on behalf of the government. This is an innovative and wonderful approach and I see it as the future of primary healthcare centres and the health system in Nigeria.
In 2016, Mission Talent placed Yeb Saño in the role of Executive Director with Greenpeace Southeast Asia. He previously served as Climate Change Commissioner for the Philippines at the UN climate talks. In this interview, Yeb reflects on making the transition from a diplomat to a campaigner, and what it means to be a leader in a world facing climate crisis.
You have now completed almost four years in the role of Executive Director for GPSEA — can you share how this experience has been for you?
It’s been very rewarding for me, I really love this job. Many NGOs, Greenpeace included, have undergone a lot of challenges in the past three years. But there are also many reasons to celebrate the work we do in Southeast Asia, a very important planetary battleground. This work gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, much more than reasons for me to lose sleep at night. I have been in this role for 1275 days, and within Greenpeace, it has become a bit of a running joke that I count the days because counting days is often interpreted as being in a jail cell awaiting your freedom day. But no, I count the days because I believe every day is a blessing — I get to work with amazing and passionate people who really want to change the world. In the last three years, I've led two ship tours with the Rainbow Warrior in Southeast Asia. In Greenpeace, we say that after you have been on a ship tour, you don’t want to see the ship for a while, and so doing it for two years in a row is quite intense, but it’s been an amazing experience for me and for all the staff and volunteers.
In 2017, Mission Talent placed Melanie Rutten-Sülz in the role of Secretary General at Youth For Understanding. Melanie works at the heart of a global federation of intercultural youth exchange organisations. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Global Coffee Platform, a multi-stakeholder sustainable coffee partnership. In this interview, Melanie reflects on what inspires her, and what she has learned from leading global membership organisations.
You have almost completed two years in the role of the Secretary-General at Youth For Understanding (YFU). Could you tell us in a nutshell, how has this been for you?
It has been an amazing journey over the last two years. I landed in a completely unknown and new organisation, with a strong mission, a very engaged and dedicated community with a global, decentralized setup, and an impressive legacy. But at the same time, from the first moment I started, I really felt at home and that I have arrived in a place where I can have an impact. I identify strongly with the mission and there are great people at YFU helping to bring the organisation into the future.
What are some of the most exciting moments you have been involved in?
Now that 2019 is rapidly getting underway, we hope this mail finds you back at your desk and ready to do great work. While the struggles of the world can weigh heavily upon us, we hope you took some time with your family, friends - and yourself, for some reflection and renewal.
Looking back at 2018, we see shocking incidents of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct, followed by inspiring movements such as #TimesUp and #MeToo. We take strength from the courage of the individuals who have stepped forward, and we are motivated by organizations that are working to authentically address the scope of these issues. The scale of these revelations makes us at Mission Talent feel our sense of mission even more strongly. Now more than ever, the world needs strong leaders who will promote diversity, confront inappropriate behaviour, and shake the structures that allow it to continue. As your search partner, we are committed to helping you find people who can lead this change internally within our sector, and act externally as advocates for human rights in our society.
Within Mission Talent, we take energy for the coming year from our new colleagues. We recently welcomed Nihal and Anabella, who respectively bring knowledge of civil society in Egypt and Venezuela; and expertise in social psychology and lean management. In our tenth year as a company, we look forward to continuing to expand our team in 2019.
We are also inspired by some of our new clients, like BRAC, ALIMA, OPEN and the Oak Foundation, and returning clients like CBM and Greenpeace. These searches further deepen our commitment to placing diverse candidates, specifically women and leaders from the global South and East. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our expertise in recruiting diverse leadership for our clients worldwide.
We wish you every success for the coming year, that you may have a strong team around you, passion for your work, and space to personally develop and grow.
Please write to us anytime and say hello, we would be happy to hear from you.
The Mission Talent Team
Katja, Emily, Lin, Spencer, Lara, Mwende, Anabella and Nihal
Es una realidad en el mundo laboral: un día se eres candidato, y al otro día estás sentado en la mesa llevando las entrevistas. Sin embargo, no hay tiempo para relajarse cuando se es un miembro del panel– tu compromiso juega un rol importante en el éxito del proceso de reclutamiento.
Desde 2010 Mission Talent ha llevado a cabo más de 340 procesos de reclutamiento para cargos en más de 60 países al rededor del mundo. Hemos trabajado con una variedad de páneles; la mayoría excelentes -aunque algunos no estaban muy comprometidos, otros fueron demasiado participativos y otros inclusive ahuyentaron candidatos por usar un enfoque jerárquico anticuado.
Nos hemos dado cuenta de que la calidad de tu aporte no depende de cuánta experiencia tengas: ni de si has entrevistado a cientos de personas o si es tu primera vez; tu enfoque, actitud y compromiso son determinantes.
Comencemos por el principio: si estás trabajando con un consultor de búsqueda contratado, deja que te guíe. Comprende y respeta el proceso al cual has accedido; son compañeros con la misma meta. No desestimes la importancia de los pasos específicos, y haz preguntas si no entiendes.
Una llamada informativa inicial es la base de toda la búsqueda; concédale al reclutador 40 minutos de su valioso tiempo para informarle sobre el cargo. Durante esta conversación, puede aportar su percepción con respecto al cargo y compartir cuáles serían sus requerimientos claves. ¡Ni los mejores reclutadores encontrarán candidatos sobresalientes para usted basándose exclusivamente en la especificación de la función!
La información sobre el cargo es una conversación que hay que tener con todos los participantes del panel. ¿Por qué? Para asegurar el alineamiento ente sus miembros. Si obvias este paso, lo más probable es que unas semanas más tarde, te veas obligado a discutir sobre el cargo luego de haber sido presentado con varios candidatos que no se considerarán adecuados. Esto no sólo hará que los candidatos noten que el panel no tiene idea de qué es lo que busca, sino también se encontrará de vuelta en el pizarrón luego de haber perdido su tiempo, al igual que el del reclutador y el de los candidatos. Esto podría inclusive perjudicar la reputación de tu organización.
Es tu responsabilidad asegurarte de se le hagan las preguntas correctas a los candidatos entrevistados. Haz tus propias preguntas; más nadie puede decidir por ti cuáles son las preguntas que deben ser realizadas para determinar si al final querrás contratar a alguien o no. Por esta razón, antes de una entrevista, debes familiarizarte con los perfiles de los candidatos, leer los reportes de entrevistas previas y pensar en qué quieres saber sobre este candidato para que puedas sentirte equipado y cómodo al tomar una decisión.
Durante una entrevista, ten una conversación y un debate; una discusión entre iguales es la manera más respetuosa de proceder. No hay necesidad de recurrir a preguntas trampa o a un enfoque de interrogación exhaustivo. Se honesto, transparente y profesional. Si quieres saber cuáles son las fortalezas, debilidades y fracasos del candidato, entonces debes estar preparado para discutir los triunfos y retos de tu organización. No permitir un espacio seguro para que los candidatos hagan preguntas, o inclusive negarte a responder preguntas sobre información no confidencial, es sencillamente de mala educación.
Es importante recordar que durante una entrevista, los candidatos también están entrevistando a su futuro potencial empleador. Si no actúas y representas positivamente a tu organización, hay un gran chance de puedas perder el interés de tus candidatos más deseados. Comienza por presentarte como panel, no pretendas que los candidatos sepan quién eres. Asegúrete de describir el cargo también antes de comenzar a realizar preguntas, ya que esto va a sentar las bases para una discusión clara y en confianza donde ambas partes puedan evaluar su compatibilidad.
Utiliza un ambiente apropiado para una entrevista. El ambiente dice mucho sobre ti y tu organización. No utilices el teléfono para entrevistas no presenciales ya que las llamadas sólo reflejan la mitad de la historia. La tecnología moderna permite hacer las videollamadas, incluso en áreas de baja conectividad (sí, hemos tenido entrevistas con alguien sentado en la sabana de Zimbabue con elefantes paseando al fondo).
Confirma la forma en la que eres percibido durante la videollamada. Un espacio virtual no te da licencia para prescindir de buenos modales. Actúa como si estuvieran sentados juntos en una entrevista presencial: no te acuestes sobre una cama (!), vístete adecuadamente, asegúrate de que no hayan interrupciones y no leas o respondas correos ni revises Facebook. Para más información sobre etiqueta durante videollamadas por favor lee este blog que publicamos recientemente.
En general, es importante que ayudes a tu consultor de búsqueda a apegarse a tu proceso. Puedes apoyarlo participando en reuniones y llamadas pautadas con el fin de discutir los candidatos y no modificando las fechas establecidas para las entrevistas. Reiteramos, un cambio frecuente o inexplicable de fechas hace que los candidatos pierdan interés, con toda razón.
Responde a la brevedad las preguntas que haga tu consultor de búsqueda. Los buenos candidatos están muy solicitados y tienen otras opciones; necesitan mantenerse interesados y atraídos al cargo. Aplazar una respuesta puede llevar al candidato a perder el interés. Recuerda, el consultor de búsqueda sólo puede representar favorablemente a tu organización si le aportas suficiente información para hacerlo.
Por favor recuerda que se entiende que todos los pasos del proceso de selección y búsqueda son recíprocos: tanto tu relación con el consultor de búsqueda y tu interacción con los candidatos. Debes manifestar tanto entusiasmo, dedicación e interés en lograr ocupar este cargo como lo esperaría de un candidato. Si no, simplemente terminarás sólo en la mesa.
Unas semanas atrás, comenzando una nueva búsqueda, contacté una candidata -a quién habíamos ubicado el año pasado en otro cargo- para que me hiciera alguna sugerencia. Basándome en la ubicación y el alcance de su cargo, estaba convencida de que ella podría darme alguna pista interesante de algún candidato potencial.
Y fue así. Incluso ella recomendó a alguien a quien yo había visto en un proceso de reclutamiento hace un tiempo y explicó por qué al panel le había gustado y había apreciado a esa persona, a pesar de que al final escogieran a otra.
Seguidamente contactamos a esa persona, ponderamos su interés y la evaluamos en el proceso para un cliente. Unas semanas más tarde, fue contratada.
Entonces, ¿cuál es el aprendizaje?
Luego de que tú formas parte de un proceso de reclutamiento, estas ansioso por explorar el cargo y ver si es para ti –y si tú eres el indicado para la organización. Te imaginas en el cargo, te preparas, tienes conversaciones al respecto y te sientes preparado para el reto. Pero no todo el mundo puede encajar perfectamente. A pesar de que la retroalimentación sea positiva y constructiva, ser rechazado puede resultar muy duro.
Pero hay un lado positivo: ¡te has expuesto y has demostrado tus capacidades! Y la ventaja de eso es que a pesar de no ser el indicado, las personas te recordarán por tus capacidades, experiencia y pasión.
Y aunque parezca poca consolación luego de ser rechazado, es importante recordar que ser rechazado para un cargo es sencillamente eso –no se trata de ti, sino de tu compatibilidad pera ese cargo en específico. Mantenerse positivo y comprometido significa que habrán otras oportunidades en el futuro.
Mi nerviosismo comenzó al leer el correo que me envió Africa Prisons Project:
“Kamiti es una prisión masculina de máxima seguridad... [Los visitantes] deben evitar estar en un área apartada a solas con un reo. Es importante cumplir con el código de vestimenta oficial apropiado, evitar prendas ceñidas al cuerpo o reveladoras. La vestimenta no debe mostrar escote o exponer la parte alta de los brazos y deben evitarse los vestidos mini o cortos.”
Desde mi niñez, sabíamos que los peores criminales estaban encerrados en Kamiti, y aquí estaba yo, ¡visitando voluntariamente la prisión! Me imaginé que seria oscura y asquerosa. Esperaba que estuviera en las peores condiciones posibles. Sentía mariposas en el estómago. ¿Por qué estoy haciendo esto?
Durante el camino a la prisión, estaba sentada en silencio. Mi mamá estaba manejando; íbamos a realizar la visita juntas. Ella trataba de calmarme hablándome de cosas positivas, pero lo único que yo quería era silencio para lidiar con los nervios. Mantenía la razón de mi visita en mente: me entusiasmaba ver de primera mano el trabajo que está haciendo el APP. Estoy liderando las búsquedas para su nuevo Director de Desarrollo, de Servicios Legales y Directora de Educación Legal. Esta visita me permitiría comprender mejor al APP, y me ayudaría a continuar con la búsqueda. También quería experimentar el verdadero cristianismo en acción, ya que eso es lo que creo que está haciendo esta organización con su trabajo en las prisiones.
Llegamos al portón de la prisión de máxima seguridad Kamiti 20 minutos antes de la hora establecida. Una llamada a la Directora General nos aseguró que podríamos pasar y estacionarnos, pero deberíamos esperarla en el estacionamiento, ya que ella tenía la carta de permiso de acceso a la prisión. Había una larga fila de peatones en el portón principal. Por coincidencia, habíamos venido el Día de la Crianza a Distancia. Las familias traían comida y pasaban el día con papá, ya que los niños también estaban de vacaciones en estos días.
El segundo portón de la prisión, donde los reos están recluidos, es una gran puerta de madera con un letrero rojo arriba. No se permiten fotos. Seguimos a la recepción, donde entregamos nuestras identificaciones, la carta de acceso y las llaves del auto. Luego pasamos una revisión de seguridad; quitándonos los zapatos, cinturones y prendas.
Un guardia nos fue asignado y caminamos, atravesando el patio a la Academia, hacia donde APP realiza su programa de educación legal. También hay una escuela de primaria y secundaria para los presos que deseen completar su educación.
Al momento en que nos asignaron un guardia, recordé la conversación que sostuve con la Directora General: debíamos mantenernos cerca de ella y del guardia, no debíamos hablarle a los presos, y si ellos se nos acercaban o nos preguntaban nuestros contactos, debíamos dirigirlos al APP. ¡Noté que la DG también estaba ajustándose su abrigo y abotonándose! Yo ajusté mi suéter y lo usé para cubrir mi pecho. ¡Mi mamá estaba súper calmada!
Mientras atravesábamos un tercer portón, hacia el patio, había mucha camaradería. Una carpa estaba puesta a un lado y un castillo inflable al otro. Había música y una sensación general de alegría. Me sentía calmada. Había familiares en todas partes.
Pasamos un cuarto portón a la parte industrial de la prisión, donde se encontraba la Academia. Mientras que atravesábamos cada portón, los guardias nos recibían con una sonrisa, apretones de mano y buenas vibras para APP.
Había prisioneros por todas partes, mantuve la cabeza hacia abajo. No hice contacto visual. No quería ningún incidente. No obstante, miré hacia los patios. No eran como me los esperaba. Estaban limpios, para cualquier fin. No era asqueroso. Pero no teníamos acceso al área donde están recluidos los presos. Las celdas. Tal vez en esa área es diferente.
Un quinto portón nos llevó a la Academia. Hablamos brevemente con un administrador y luego nos sentamos en la parte de atrás de una sesión de clases del Programa de Educación Legal. Dos de los estudiantes eran guardias de la prisión y el tercero era un preso. Los estudiantes interactuaban entre ellos y con el tutor mostrando interés y pasión. Actualmente, la organización APP tiene alrededor de 40 presos y guardias de prisión cursando el Programa Legal en conjunto con la Universidad de Londres. Los cursos ya han salvado vidas: una mujer bajo condena de muerte, estudiante de APP, llamada Susan Kigala ganó su caso en corte y fue puesta en libertad. Como resultado de su caso, la ley ya no obliga la pena máxima para todos los casos de asesinato en Uganda.
Saliendo de la Academia, nos detuvimos a conversar con un estudiante del APP que cursaba su tercer año. Es el décimo tercer demandante en un caso ante la Corte Suprema. Gracias a sus estudios en el Programa de Educación Legal de APP, ¡podrá representarse a sí mismo y a los doce otros demandantes! Nos dijo que el juez está a su favor, tal vez por la buena reputación de APP y por el hecho de ser un preso con conocimiento legal.
Haber visto el trabajo e impacto positivo de APP en la prisión Kamiti fue conmovedor. Nos dimos cuenta de algo muy bueno, esta organización es muy bien vista entre los empleados de la prisión y los guardias. ¡Esta visita definitivamente fue una motivación adicional para continuar apoyándolos!
A la salida de Kamiti, mi madre se aseguró de comprar algunas plantas del vivero de la prisión para apoyar el esfuerzo de los presos; esperamos que sigan creciendo al igual que el trabajo del APP, y que tengan un impacto positivo en la vida de los presos.
Mwende Njuguna es Consultora Sénior en Mission Talent.
En 2003 era pasante en la ciudad de Nueva York y fui a ver a Jeffrey Sachs (en ese entonces director del Earth Institute de la Universidad de Columbia) dar una serie de charlas sobre las Metas de Desarrollo para el Milenio (MDM). Éstas se convirtieron en las bases para el Proyecto del Milenio y Sachs después se desempeñó como Jefe Embajador de las MDM por muchos años.
Era una época emocionante. Las MDM eran metas nuevas y digeribles a las cuales las personas se podían aferrar. El pensamiento pragmático dominaba -si tan sólo hubiéramos tenido la planificación y los recursos para llevarlo a cabo, podríamos haberle puesto fin a la pobreza.
Yo solía tomar el tren hacia la parte alta de la ciudad para luego sentarme en la audiencia, totalmente inspirada. Era joven y fácil de impresionar y Jeff Sachs era mi héroe. Luego de cada charla, había una ronda de preguntas y respuestas, y recuerdo cuando un estudiante le preguntó:
“¿Cuál consejo nos darías?, ¿Cómo podemos involucrarnos?” Él dijo algo más o menos así: adquiere una habilidad, conviértete en ingeniero hidráulico o en especialista de la salud o en urbanista.
Su respuesta me ha seguido por años. Al igual que la mitad de los alumnos en el salón, yo había estudiado Relaciones Internacionales. Yo no era capaz de arreglar tuberías ni sabía nada sobre la distribución de mosquiteros. Era muy tarde para mí.
Pero, la semana pasada en el trabajo, tuve una revelación. Luego de hablar con el Director Ejecutivo de una organización, que se dedica a aportar acceso a la educación legal a prisioneros y luego con un emprendedor social, dedicado a ampliar los servicios para que los granjeros en el oeste de África puedan tener acceso a créditos, me di cuenta de que estaba haciendo exactamente lo que Jeffrey Sachs aconsejaba: había adquirido una habilidad y la estaba utilizando.
Me gusta creer que el desarrollo internacional ha logrado una nueva manera de pensar. Que actualmente reconocemos el hecho de que para lograr las Metas de Desarrollo Sostenible, debemos invertir en desarrollar líderes y en fortalecer las organizaciones. Ellos son el corazón que da vida a la sostenibilidad.
Es por esta razón que nuestro trabajo en Mission Talent es tan importante para nosotros. No importa qué esté combatiendo una organización; desde el cambio climático hasta el acceso al aborto seguro, nosotros escuchamos sus necesidades, analizamos el mercado y nos enfocamos en el trabajo de conseguir los candidatos ideales. Y tal vez no es tan sencillo como lo que Jeffrey Sachs proponía, pero el 2015 llegó y se fue.
Emily es Jefa de Investigación en Mission Talent, y escribió anteriormente sobre las MDMs aquí.
¿Cuántas veces he escuchado a alguien decir que han aplicado a algún cargo, para el que pensaban que eran los indicados, y al final ni siquiera recibieron una respuesta de la organización que lo anunciaba?
Conseguir o no una entrevista depende de lo que busca la organización. Esto puede o no estar explícitamente descrito en la solicitud del cargo. Ellos pueden estar buscando más al candidato “fuera de serie” que a alguien con una trayectoria comprobada.
Aún si este no es el caso, una amplia experiencia y una trayectoria impecable no son garantía de que serás seleccionado para la entrevista o que conseguirás el trabajo. Algunas posiciones sencillamente no están hechas para ti, aunque parezca que sí.
Los entrevistadores pueden estar buscando un “nuevo” tipo de habilidades o un candidato “diferente”. En un contexto de ONG, esto puede significar candidatos con un perfil de negocios o de emprendimiento. A nivel de CEO, esto puede significar alguien con experiencia en gerencia de cambios.
La organización puede estar más interesada en candidatos con perfiles convincentes, los cuales puedan representar a la organización externamente, tal vez aquellos que estén trabajando en temas como la justicia y los derechos humanos. Las ONG internacionales más grandes probablemente tengan más recursos para invertir en el desarrollo profesional de sus empleados.
Contratistas u organizaciones que estén enfocados en desempeño o en becas, tienden a buscar el candidato más adecuado en cuanto a la experiencia, resultados anteriores y destrezas técnicas. Muchas veces ellos no pueden arriesgarse o esperar a que los empleados aprendan y crezcan. Tienen metas que cumplir dentro de una meta de tiempo pautada.
Si tienes establecida una relación con el reclutador, siempre es bueno mandarle un mensaje rápido preguntándole sobre el cargo y su alcance, al igual que averiguar su opinión sobre tu perfil y si éste sería compatible en esta oportunidad.
Al final, si consideras que eres el adecuado para una posición, tómate el tiempo de redactar tu CV con el fin de resaltar los puntos en los que cumples con los requerimientos del cargo. Si crees que tus destrezas aplican, defiende tu caso de manera concisa.
Puedes estar consciente de que cuentas con la experiencia necesaria, pero puede que no se vea reflejado en tu CV. Haz que tu CV sea fácil de comprender y de no más de un par de páginas. Incluye el número de presupuestos y de empleados que hayas manejado y tus responsabilidades. Más importante aún, ¡coloca tus logros! Para algunos lectores, tu CV es más importante que tu carta de presentación.
Hace unos años estaba conversando con la hija de unos buenos amigos. A pesar de que nuestro intercambio fue trivial y no recuerdo el tema de la conversación, sé que de manera sutil pero importante, ella alteró mi manera de ver la vida.
Hubo un momento durante nuestra discusión en el que yo dije: “Bueno, uno se gana el respeto” Es probable que haya sido una respuesta algo floja de mi parte; una frase que escuché repetidas veces en mi propia niñez de parte padres con altas expectativas.
Su respuesta fue rápida. “No, uno se gana el irrespeto.”
Vi y comprendí su punto de inmediato. Estaba en lo correcto y aún estoy consciente de la manera en que cambió mi comportamiento hasta el día de hoy –no tengo ningún derecho a pretender que las personas se prueben ante mi de ninguna manera. Este enfoque de participación positiva es esencial en nuestro negocio; a pesar de que nuestro objetivo sea revelar lo mejor de cada candidato, ¡en ocasiones pueden sorprendernos con talentos o historias que jamás nos hubiéramos imaginado!
Por supuesto, en algunos casos ese respeto puede disminuir con el tiempo, pero he aprendido que los intercambios de la vida son más enriquecedores cuando son enfrentados desde ésta perspectiva. Incluyendo las conversaciones con niñas de 14 años.
Últimamente pareciera que todas las organizaciones tuvieran un plan: una visión 2020 o una agenda 2030. Todo suena muy futurista. Estos años pasan más rápido de lo que uno piensa, y antes de que nos demos cuenta, es hora de realizar un nuevo plan.
Pero cuando en Mission Talent vemos hacia el futuro, queremos ver como meta un liderazgo más diverso y representativo. ¿Quiénes son los líderes de 2030?, ¿y qué estamos haciendo actualmente para promover diversidad en el liderazgo?
Las organizaciones deben asumir la responsabilidad de su diversidad -y nosotros como empleados, socios y miembros de la sociedad civil- debemos presionar para que sea así. Las excusas del siglo veinte se están desmoronando, este es el momento de ser valientes y vanguardistas.
Aquí van ocho ideas. También nos gustaría escuchar tus ideas vía Twitter o comentarios de LinkedIn.
1. Comprender que la diversidad abarca muchas cosas- habilidad, género, raza, nacionalidad, estatus económico, idioma y más. Líderes diversos atraen perspectivas diversas.
2. Realiza una auditoría de diversidad en todos los niveles de tu organización: te puedes sorprender de lo que encuentras.
3. Ten conversaciones incómodas con tus colegas. Toma el tiempo para comprender qué es lo que falta en tu equipo y planifica para el futuro.
4. Diseña procesos de reclutamiento que alcancen distintos tipos de talento. Un proceso estratégico te ayudará a llegar a candidatos más diversos. Contrata expertos para ayudarte a lograrlo si es necesario.
5. Toma riesgos e invierte. No sólo contrates el candidato seguro o el interno -recluta gente que rete el estatus quo. Invierte en entrenamiento de personal. El analista de hoy es el líder de mañana.
6. No toleres discriminación ni hostigamiento en ningún lugar; pierdes mucho talento cuando las personas se sienten excluidas.
7. Brinda a tus empleados la oportunidad de adaptar el trabajo a sus vidas. Criar niños pequeños y cuidar de padres ancianos son etapas de la vida. Al igual que lo es cuidar de tu bienestar personal o profundizar tu educación. Los empleados a quienes se les brinda flexibilidad durante estos períodos tienden a mantenerse leales.
8. Contratar un empleado distinto es sin duda un buen paso. Pero es el principio de un camino, no el fin. Construye un plan de integración que prepare al empleado para el éxito y le brinde apoyo constante.
El primer evento Mix´n´Talent sacó a relucir una variedad de reflexiones determinantes sobre cómo el sector de la sociedad civil puede promover el cambio social en tiempos de incertidumbre.
Uno de los retos que surgió de las discusiones fue el caso de los silos. Ninguno de los retos que enfrentamos actualmente puede aislarse de los demás. Y aun así, muy a menudo tratamos de enfrentar los problemas del mundo desde nuestro silo. Encontramos silos en todos los niveles de nuestro trabajo: silos departamentales dentro de una organización; silos entre una organización y otra; silos entre tipos de ONG como “las ONG ambientalistas” y “las ONG de derechos humanos”. Incluso el sector de la sociedad civil en sí es un silo que observa a los demás sectores con desconfianza.
Efectivamente, una ONG no puede priorizar todo. Pero sabemos que no es necesario si nos abrimos a la idea de fortalecer coordinaciones a lo largo del sector y a trabajar en alianzas. No solo en asociaciones, sino en verdaderas alianzas construidas con causas en común. Alianzas que rompan con los silos y se destaquen dentro de la competencia por fondos y la defensa de los logotipos. Alianzas con una distribución estratégica de cargos entre los socios que participan en las distintas áreas de enfoque, compensando las debilidades individuales mediante un enfoque holístico.
El mundo está cambiando a un ritmo cada vez más rápido y los desarrollos globales están desafiando los principios a partir de los cuales fueron fundadas muchas organizaciones de la sociedad civil. Al igual que la digitalización requirió la adaptación de los modelos de financiación, la creciente interconexión de los asuntos requiere que se replanteen los conceptos de identidad y las marcas de las organizaciones si queremos perseverar en nuestras causas de manera exitosa. Requiere un cambio en nuestra cultura hacia un pensamiento más interconectado. Y, al concluir la discusión, esto requiere confianza. Confianza más allá de los silos, extendiéndose a otros individuos, organizaciones y sectores. Tenemos que aprender a pensar y trabajar como un movimiento.
Este blog fue escrito por Jana Merkelbach quien también fue moderadora del evento Mission Talent. Su primer blog como invitada se tituló “Dirigiendo el cambio en tiempos de incertidumbre” fue publicado en esta página el 31/05/2017.
Al enfrentarnos con retos como la incertidumbre en el ámbito político, el cambio climático y la crisis humanitaria global y de refugiados -¿cómo podemos promover efectivamente el cambio social en tiempos de incertidumbre?
Esta pregunta reunió a líderes del sector de la sociedad civil en Berlín el 24 de mayo para la primera edición del evento Mix´n´Talent de Mission Talent. Tuve el placer de ser moderadora de un panel inspirador con Susanne Baumann, Jefe de Personal en Crisis Action; Sabrina Schultz, Jefe de la oficina en Berlin de E3G; y Jeannette Gusko, quien maneja la Marca Internacional y Participación de Change.org. Compartiendo sus experiencias, lecciones y pensamientos sobre el tema, el panel rápidamente participó en una discusión fructífera con los invitados del evento.
El otro día estaba arreglando unos asuntos con un cliente. Hubo unos cuantos términos que ella utilizó durante nuestra comunicación que hicieron que yo tuviera que preguntar a qué se refería con ellos para asegurarme de estar en la misma página que ella. Eso hizo que cayera en cuenta de que todos tenemos nuestros lenguajes organizacionales. Palabras que usamos a menudo y que adquieren un tipo de significado según el contexto en que las utilicemos.
Cuando le hablo a mis colegas sobre un reporte de búsqueda, todos tenemos un conocimiento claro de lo que esto conlleva ya que es nuestro pan de cada día. Pero si utilizo el mismo término con un nuevo cliente, puede que tenga que ser más específica y explicar a qué me refiero con eso.
De igual manera, cuando un candidato describe una campaña, alguna investigación o algún proyecto, necesito asegurarme de estar al tanto del contexto de su organización y tal vez preguntarles qué significa esta palabra en su área en específico.
A pesar de que tendemos a movernos en círculos similares, no podemos esperar que las personas siempre comprendan nuestro vocabulario del día a día. Aunque hablemos el mismo idioma, a veces debemos estar seguros de que entendemos lo específico de cada sector, o lo específico de alguna organización, los detalles –y que estemos siendo comprendidos de la misma manera.
Hoy se está llevando a cabo una gran iniciativa en toda África, intentando reunir solidaridad panafricana para "hacer un llamado a nuestros líderes sobre los fracasos (de África) y construir un África mejor, más justa, más pacífica y sostenible". La iniciativa 'Africa Rising' fue creada por un grupo de 272 personas de 44 países africanos reunidos en Arusha, Tanzania en 2016. Lo más importante de esta reunión fue que los jóvenes africanos estaban en el centro de este movimiento con 'inclusión social, paz y prosperidad compartida 'como sus temas a tratar.
Mission Talent invita a los líderes del sector de impacto social a nuestro primer evento Mix’n’Talent en Berlin:
Es un momento retador para los que trabajamos a favor del cambio social. Enfrentamos incertidumbre en el ámbito político, el cambio climático, una crisis global humanitaria y de refugiados. Las fuentes de financiamiento tradicionales están cambiando. Entonces, ¿qué significa esto para nuestra manera de planificar para el futuro? Entre tantas amenazas, ¿existen oportunidades?
Es fácil rodearnos de personas que piensan igual que nosotros. Dependiendo de nuestras burbujas en redes sociales, puede que ni siquiera conozcamos a nadie que haya votado por el candidato opuesto, o que tome una posición diferente. Pero al no compartir con personas que piensen distinto, no estamos haciendo del mundo un lugar mejor, sencillamente lo estamos dividiendo más. Y la división debilita nuestra sociedad aún más.
Muchos podrían esperar una conexión entre la experiencia de un candidato y la calidad de sus entrevistas. Esa no es nuestra experiencia en Mission Talent: hemos visto entrevistas excelentes de candidatos jóvenes y algunas algo decepcionantes de candidatos con más experiencia.
Entonces, ¿qué hace que una entrevista sea exitosa? La preparación exhaustiva, excelente comunicación y algo de empatía son determinantes -al igual que cumplir con los requerimientos claves.
Nota: todo lo expuesto en este blog esta basado en experiencia real.
La Dra. Hannah Fry, matemático del University College en Londres, describió recientemente cómo la data cada vez es más importante. Continuó explicando que los algoritmos que se están utilizando con frecuencia no están a simple vista, lo que significa que “el software está construido con un incentivo que puede no estar alineado con los intereses de cada individuo, quienes sólo son puntos de data dentro del mismo”.
El reclutamiento y el software de selección son un ejemplo. La promesa de encontrar eficientemente el candidato ideal utilizando palabras clave y algoritmos es bastante seductor, pero depende de los programadores y su enfoque. En su conversación con The Register sobre algoritmos, la Dra. Fry dijo: “No puedes argumentar en contra de ellos. Si sus suposiciones y sesgos no están abiertos al escrutinio, entonces estarás poniendo un sistema en las manos de unos pocos programadores que no tienen ninguna responsabilidad sobre las decisiones que están tomando.” Luego describió cómo un algoritmo de LinkedIn mostraba publicaciones para trabajos de más alta remuneración con más frecuencia a hombres que a mujeres.
Mission Talent no evalúa a las personas con algoritmos, vemos a las personas que dan la talla y hablamos con ellos para averiguar más. Pero también nos da curiosidad; chateamos con otros que no son adecuados pero nos resultan interesantes y -a veces-tienen mucho más que ofrecer. La próxima vez que tengas que agregar a alguien a tu equipo, piensa en poner en práctica tu humanidad antes que las decisiones tomadas por una máquina.
La comunidad en internet ha estado disfrutando la entrevista entre el desafortunado Profesor Robert Kelly y la BBC, durante la cual sus dos hijos entraron a su oficina. La buena noticia es que, como dijo la BBC: “él supo mantener la compostura y pudo concluir la entrevista exitosamente.”
La naturaleza de nuestro trabajo requiere que hagamos con frecuencia entrevistas a personas en sus casas o en otros ambientes y entendemos que puede haber imprevistos mientras nos hablan los candidatos, o incluso los futuros empleadores. Claro, aparecer en un Canal de TV global es otra cosa, pero ¿qué podría hacer alguien si se le presenta una situación similar en una reunión o en alguna entrevista?
Nuestra recomendación es saber cómo apagar el micrófono y la cámara antes de que comience la reunión. Si te interrumpe un niño, un colega bien intencionado, tú gato o perro, el timbre o incluso la alarma de incendios, excúsate brevemente y apaga tu micrófono y cámara. Resuelve la situación y luego toma unos cinco segundos adicionales para concentrarte antes de volver a encender la cámara y el micrófono. La mayoría de los entrevistadores serán comprensivos –y además habrás demostrado calma bajo presión.
Con mucho entusiasmo, hemos estado siguiendo el creciente movimiento de resistencia que se ha estado dando al rededor del mundo en los últimos meses -liderado por mujeres, Nos sentimos conmovidas, inspiradas y honradas de ser testigos de esto.
Nosotros en Mission Talent somos un equipo de ocho, siete de las cuales son mujeres, de diferentes países; estábamos debatiendo sobre cómo sería la mejor manera de mostrar nuestra solidaridad con la causa el miércoles 8 de marzo de 2017 durante Un Día Sin Una Mujer. Sentimos la responsabilidad de no permanecer calladas en este día, mostrando nuestra solidaridad y aprovechando la oportunidad para lograr un impacto de alguna manera. Decidimos no ir a huelga, como lo planearon otros, porque creemos que no tendría el impacto deseado en nuestro contexto en particular. En el Día Internacional de la Mujer seguiremos trabajando por nuestros clientes y candidatos, apoyándolos en su misión en búsqueda de los mismos objetivos.
Parte de nuestro equipo quisiera compartir con ustedes lo que significa para ellos el Día Internacional de la Mujer.
En la búsqueda de candidatos potenciales, siempre estoy atenta a conseguir los mejores. Pero a veces, los candidatos no se presentan adecuadamente en las entrevistas, por eso también estoy pendiente de cualquier evidencia adicional. Además de sus CV, los candidatos también pueden haber enviado presentaciones o artículos publicados. Tal vez tengan algunos videos buenos en internet, o un blog activo o una cuenta de Twitter.
En la medida en que los candidatos van avanzando en nuestro proceso, se les ofrece adiestramiento para que puedan presentarse de la manera más adecuada, al igual que aconsejamos sobre cómo demostrar cuando sus logros anteriores están alineados con los requerimientos del nuevo cargo. De esta forma, lo que descubrimos y aprendemos sobre el nuevo candidato crece a lo largo del proceso de reclutamiento -y en algunos casos, ¡también crece el conocimiento de los candidatos sobre sí mismos!
Esta es mi parte preferida de la búsqueda -desarrollar una relación con los candidatos y llegar a conocerlos de distintas formas.
El día después de que los americanos fueran a elecciones el año pasado, yo evadí las noticias y Facebook. El viernes pasado, algunas personas en mi timeline de Facebook estaban citando el discurso de inauguración del Presidente número 45 de los EEUU y yo decidí ni verlo, ni leerlo.
Como occidental, fui criado en un mundo que anhelaba que las mujeres fueran iguales. Esos logros están siendo desafiados actualmente de una manera que jamás me imagine posible, incluso por alguien que ocupa un cargo el cual con frecuencia es descrito como el de “líder del mundo libre.”
Aún estamos viendo y experimentando profundas diferencias entre hombres y mujeres a lo largo del planeta. En distintas religiones. En distintas nacionalidades. En distintas culturas. La discriminación de cualquier cosa que pueda parecer “diferente”. En general, existe una falta de humanidad, de empatía y de compasión entre unos y los otros.
Kris Torgeson, who Mission Talent placed as the first ever Global CEO at Lifebox, said in a recent interview that “no matter how big or how small the organisation or crisis, the humanitarian act is still about one person helping another.”
This reminded me of a moment’s reflection that I had over Christmas. I was unpacking some decorations with my children, including some my mother used before her death 10 years ago. I came across a small box of Oxfam candles that reminded me of her preference for buying things from charity shops wherever possible. She didn't think she was changing the world, but just doing the right thing in a small town in rural England.
In a world where so many problems seem so large and so insurmountable I see a link between Kris's comment and my mother's actions. None of us can change the world alone, but millions of us doing the small things that we are capable of; whether it is doing surgery by Lamplight, teaching a new language to a refugee—or simply buying trinkets in a charity shop; millions of small acts and gestures can and do add up to big differences.
Nuestros planes originales de tener una escapada tranquila rápidamente se convirtieron en un viaje a la isla griega de Lesbos.
Lesbos no es sólo una hermosa isla para turistas. Sino también es el primer destino europeo de miles, o más bien de millones de refugiados provenientes de Siria, Iraq, Afganistán y otros países.
En teoría, es un procedimiento sencillo: llegan los barcos con 30-60 personas, idealmente acompañados de un grupo de voluntarios entusiasmados. Las personas se bajan de los barcos, se quitan los zapatos y las medias mojadas. Se les arropa con cobijas, se les distribuye agua y refrigerios. Luego llegan los autobuses para trasladar a todo el mundo al campamento de Moria, donde deben registrarse antes de seguir su camino. Idealmente, los pasajeros recién llegados ni siquiera deben pasar la noche.
Entonces ahí nos encontrábamos. Equipados con botas de goma, guantes y pasamontañas, para nuestra semana de cuatro turnos de 12 horas en el campamento de Moria. Como hablamos el idioma árabe, pasamos la mayor parte del tiempo en la fila de espera para registrar a los sirios e iraquíes.
Fue un curso relámpago sobre la vida de los refugiados en tránsito.
Siempre es buena idea preparase para una entrevista. Pero, ¿cómo? Por supuesto, es útil saber acerca de la organización y del cargo al cual estás aplicando -pero, ¿cómo prepararse para esas preguntas difíciles de las entrevistas? Todos hemos leído sobre cómo hacer que las debilidades parezcan fortalezas y hay un sinnúmero de páginas que afirman tener las respuestas a las preguntas más difíciles de los entrevistadores.
Pero tomemos en cuenta qué es lo que busca el entrevistador. Una buena entrevista no es un enfrentamiento, más bien está diseñada para darte la oportunidad de mostrar cuáles son tus fortalezas y cómo éstas encajan en el cargo en cuestión. Generalmente, los entrevistadores quieren averiguar tres cosas:
¿Te enteraste? Es el año 2015; el plazo para las Metas de Desarrollo del Milenio se terminó, el plazo para las Metas de Desarrollo Sostenible comenzó y se supone que los gobiernos deben acordar un plan en la COP21 que tendrá lugar en diciembre, para prevenir el desastroso cambio climático. ¿Y entonces?
Fui recientemente a una conferencia sobre transformación global. Los organizadores de la conferencia (GIZ) anunciaron que la reunión se convertiría en una plataforma bienal para revisar las Metas de Desarrollo Sostenible. Para ser sinceros, esto no me emocionó mucho. Luego de 15 años, acabamos supuestamente de llegar a completar las ocho MDM, y ¿ahora estamos apresurándonos a planearnos 17 nuevas metas? Las metas fueron acordadas mediante uno de los procesos más consultivos visto anteriormente, pero pienso que se han vuelto, en general, tan aburridos que recomiendo leerlos ya si estas pensando en irte a dormir.
La idea detrás de la creación de una lista más amplia de metas era plantear objetivos para países en desarrollo también. Venía de una buena intención, pero en el proceso, las metas han pasado a ser de nadie pero, a la misma vez, son para todos. Hay un dicho en Brasil: un perro con dos dueños se muere de hambre. Sin promotores firmes, las MDS nunca van a despegar.
Sencillamente no podemos proponer otra ronda de metas y esperar que pase lo mejor. Necesitamos romper el molde y proponer algo que entusiasme a la gente. Desde el punto de vista de la movilización, es impresionante que las MDM funcionaran tan bien como lo hicieron del 2000 al 2015. Muchos trabajadores de campaña dieron lo mejor de sí mismos para concientizar a la gente sobre algo impresionantemente difícil de comunicar, en el 2000, el concepto de metas para el desarrollo era nuevo, y si leías la letra pequeña, inclusive eran alcanzables.
En Mission Talent, nuestro trabajo es hacer preguntas. Queremos saber qué tipo de líder buscan nuestros clientes, y les preguntamos a nuestros clientes sobre sus profesiones y sus metas para el futuro. Esta vez, pensamos que podríamos voltear el papel y hacer que los miembros de nuestro equipo: Katja, Sarah, Spencer, Emily, Lin, Prima y Tim, respondieran las preguntas.
Veo mayor entendimiento acerca de la importancia de la participación ciudadana. Las ONG solían ser entidades cerradas a las cuales era muy difícil conseguir acceso y participar. Esto ha cambiado drásticamente y las ONG están reconociendo cada vez más la importancia del aporte ciudadano para promover el cambio.
Yo recluto para muchos cargos de campaña, anteriormente había trabajado para una organización de abogacía, así que pienso mucho sobre cómo crear una exigencia popular para el cambio. Aunque muchas de las causas por las cuales estamos trabajando son inmensas, me motiva ver que algunas organizaciones de campaña estén abordando objetivos alcanzables, como modificar las políticas de compra de una compañía. También me complace ver cada vez a más ONG utilizar medios en línea de forma creativa para motivar a las personas a trabajar por el cambio.
Lo que me da esperanza es el hecho de que muchos accionistas, tanto políticos como económicos, estén tomando cada vez más en serio a las ONG. Al igual que la sociedad en general reconoce cada vez más que las ONG tienen un papel regulador importante en el sistema político internacional.
Después de haber tenido el privilegio de reclutar para las oficinas de Greenpeace en todo el mundo, estamos especialmente orgullosos de dos de nuestros recientes reclutas. Ambas ejecutivas son mujeres y ambas representan un nuevo tipo de liderazgo para del movimiento ambientalista.
Joanna Kerr, la nueva directora ejecutiva de Greenpeace Canadá anteriormente fue la CEO global de ActionAid International, y antes de eso fue directora ejecutiva de la Asociación de los Derechos de la Mujer en el Desarrollo (AWID por sus siglas en inglés).
Al igual que Kumi Naidoo, la activista en contra de la pobreza, quien actualmente se desempeña como directora ejecutiva de Greenpeace Internacional, el hecho de haber sido elegida refleja una consciencia creciente por parte de “organizaciones verdes” sobre el hecho de que: el cambio climático y la conservación están ligados al desarrollo y a la pobreza.
No son sólo las estrategias organizacionales las que están cambiando, también son las actitudes de los líderes en sí. Muchos de los cuales trabajan para el desarrollo global, o incluso en espacios humanitarios, ven las conexiones a los asuntos del cambio climático y considerarán tomar posición con respecto a lo que anteriormente se consideraba como un sector aislado.
Entre el 25 y el 27 de Octubre, fui al Congreso Humanitario en Berlín organizado por Médecins Sans Frontiers, Médecins du Monde, la Cruz Roja Alemana, la Cámara de Médicos de Berlín y la Charité Universitätsmedizin. El evento reunió al rededor de 500 investigadores, profesionales y estudiantes para discutir las tendencias actuales, el conocimiento y las innovaciones en el sector humanitario, particularmente desde el punto de vista de la salud.
Esta fue la segunda vez que asistí al Congreso Humanitario. El tema de esta año fue “¡Sin Acceso!, ¿A quién le importa? ¿Cómo llegarle a personas con necesidad?”. El evento se centró en los obstáculos y las limitaciones para proveer la asistencia humanitaria, el planteamiento de la necesidad de más investigación, innovación y responsabilidad. Una de las interesantes soluciones presentadas fue la nueva iniciativa MEDBOX una biblioteca de campo diseñada como recurso para obtener rápidamente conocimiento Humanitario directamente donde es requerido.
Este mes, asistí a la conferencia de Perspectivas Globales en Johannesburgo, organizada por el Centro Internacional de la Sociedad Civil, ActionAid International y CIVICUS.
El tema de la conferencia fue “Navigar el Cambio Disruptivo – cómo las organizaciones de la sociedad civil pueden sobrevivir y prosperar en un mundo cada vez más desestabilizado”. La meta de la conferencia fue reunir ejecutivos y líderes de la sociedad civil internacional para construir alianzas y para hablar de temas en común. Los organizadores de la conferencia claramente eligieron un tema difícil.
En los últimos veinte años, el cambio en sí mismo ha cambiado: se ha vuelto más rápido, más fundamental y más sorpresivo. Cuando estos elementos se juntan, experimentamos la desestabilización. Piensa en la música, el teléfono o la industria del periódico. Las fuerzas del mercado las han redefinido, a pesar de los deseos de los gigantes de los medios y del sector corporativo.