What’s your background?
I’m a former economist. For over twenty years I’ve been an adviser to governments and international organisations around the world. I’ve lived and worked in Africa, where I’ve designed and led global anti-poverty initiatives. I set up a micro-lending fund for women, worked for a policy think tank, consulted for the World Bank, the European Union and other governments and international organisations along the way.
I’ve had senior positions in the public sector, working alongside heads of government, politics, I’ve negotiated EU regulations, and headed up the strategic development of multi-billion-euro economic development funds.
I moved away from the world of politics in 2009 to become a strategic adviser to businesses. And from there it’s been an evolution to what I do today – more writing, teaching, mentoring and facilitation. Rather than be the person who has all the answers, my role is now to help others find those answers — to get to solutions that are already inside them, or inside the room.
Sometimes this is about creating a book or another way to spread an idea. There are so many ways to share our message and I believe there is something magical about stories and knowledge through books. We gravitate to it; it’s human nature. Writing expands you, it helps you understand what you know and work out what you think about a topic. And yourself.
What do you do now?
Now, it’s my greatest joy to work with others, especially in small teams or through bringing groups together. I believe we can be more, and achieve more, by working together. My partner described it as “finding the solution that is already in the room.” It’s my genius zone.
What this means in practice is that I facilitate meetings and workshops. An external eye can bring a different perspective, and can take an impartial view of what’s being discussed. I can challenge (gently) and I can see what’s unsaid and help bring that to the discussion so that a better solution can be found.
I love to work with organisations or people who are doing policy or economics. I’ve worked for many years at a senior level in public policy and I bring that to the table with any group I work with. There are always politics at stake and I love that interplay between policy and politics. It’s where we can do our best work — the combination of the commitment and the analysis.
I also take on small consultancy projects. I work with a small team and we can bring new perspectives and contribute think piece. But our best work is helping people see what they already know and create something new (and better) out of what they already have and what they can bring into the room with them. Most often we are close to answers already, we just don’t see it and the spark that I bring is to help people think bigger and think differently so that those solutions can be better.
I also run a writing website and business at Author Unlimited and occasionally I’ll work with a client on a book project or a training project related to that. So many people want to write and I think a book is a wonderful want to create a lasting impact for your reader and also for the author and his or her credibility and positioning.
How can people hire you?
Well, the first step is always a conversation. We don’t know each other and any work we do has to be a fit for both sides. I want to work with clients who excite me and they need to know that working with me will support them to do better work and create better relationships. We don’t know that until we talk. The best way is just to drop me a note through the contact page.
Tell us some personal stuff!
Well, you can follow me on facebook to find out some of that. I love to travel, I love my animals, and I do post pictures of them on facebook. I love my children, but you don’t see so many pictures of them because it’s their choice to stay private.
I love, love, love to read. I’m very picky. No sci-fi, no horror, no historical romance. Good quality non-fiction – and I love to read new ideas and things that spark new insights. I’m not so interested in biography. My highest strength are future-facing and strategic, so no surprises there.
I’m a geek for personality tests and deep contemplation about who we are and what we can contribute to the world. I’m an extrovert so I also like discussing those ideas. I’m a bold decision-maker so talk is never enough; I want action. And fast.
People ask about things like personal challenges and for me they usually involve something outdoors. A was recently at Annapurna Base Camp and a long time ago I walked the length of the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. Sleeping out, snakes and scorpions for company. I know it’s not for everyone but it’s in those moments under the stars, or in nature, that we really know who we are and why we’re here. I’m not religious, but I do feel a deep connection to nature.
I also learned to surf a couple of years ago. Crazy moments and definitely embarrassing for my teenagers. Yes, it was hard work. And yes I spent a lot of time in the water. But there were moments of sheer joy. Being on the water, wave after wave, just you and the ocean, is incomparable. Definitely ranks as one of the most challenging and most peaceful experiences ever.
And it’s this same transformation I want for people I work with. To see ourself differently so that we see the world differently. And to achieve something that, at first, seems impossible but suddenly feels ‘normal’. It creates the most incredible feeling of fulfilment and joy.
It sounds a little cheesy but my ambitions today are to use the amazing knowledge we have at our fingertips to make an difference, to promote equity and growth. To help people be inspired and brave enough to do the big stuff. The scary stuff.
Because it’s the right thing to do.