I bring people and ideas together to create the conditions for deep change in complex systems, and support others to do the same.
I do this through several roles:
- Freelance facilitator and consultant. I have helped organisations to: have creative and brave conversations of all sorts; set up peer learning and action learning sets; open up possibilities and make decisions through open space conferences and leadership retreats; imagine scenarios in times of uncertainty; test out pathways to systemic change through prototyping; and learn from past projects. Clients include BBC Media Action, HelpAge International, the Overseas Development Institute, Chemonics and the ONE Campaign as well as leading projects for the Curiosity Society with the likes of Access: the Foundation for Social Investment, Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse, Jewish Women’s Aid, Citizens UK, Active Gloucestershire, Resonance, Homeless Link and Musawah.
- Co-Chair of the board of RESULTS UK, a global development advocacy charity that builds the public and political will to end poverty by enabling people to exercise their personal and political power for change. I work in partnership with the other Co-Chair to lead the board in fulfilling our governance responsibilities, chair board meetings, lead strategic discussions, line manage the CEO, and recruit and induct board members.
- Stewarding Group member for the Transformational Governance inquiry. This inquiry intends to learn about, bring attention to, and support more transformational governance in civil society in the UK. Together, we move forward, design and support the overall Transformational Governance inquiry and learning process, while deepening practice and learning on the topic.
- Consultant at Healing Solidarity, facilitating cohorts of white people working in global development to commit to and practise anti-racism. I do this with ‘Getting Ourselves Together‘ cohorts and for client organisations.
- Associate at the Curiosity Society (previously known as the TI Group), a consultancy that uses learning and design for systemic change. I work with foundations, NGOs, social enterprises and social investors to help them have a more holistic understanding of the impact they pursue and use this as a compass for strategic learning processes. This tends to involve facilitating decision-making, creating theories of change, developmental evaluation, research, and being a critical friend and coach to leaders. Having joined in 2017, I became Senior Consultant and then Associate Director, before moving to an Associate role in 2021.
- Coach for changemakers. I work with individuals who are looking to do good in the world to give them structure, questions and accountability as they go through career transitions.
- Member of the Advisory Council of The Equity Index, a UK social enterprise advocating for greater equity across the international development sector.
- Host of Doing Dinner Differently, a series of dinners where I invite changemakers into a brave space where they can be vulnerable, connect deeply with one another and talk around a theme. Past themes have included: boundaries, what role Northern institutions should play in the Global South and what inner work work is needed to be a systems changer. These dinners have been on hold since early 2020 but will be back soon.
- Writer of my newsletter and blog, alongside client work.
How did I get here?
I founded the London International Development Network in 2012 and was ‘convenor-in-chief’ before handing over to the organising team in Summer 2021. I spotted the demand for a less formal space for sector colleagues to gather and started out with a Facebook group and casual meet-ups. Over time this grew to over 15,000 members, regular events, a mentorship scheme and a team of a dozen volunteers, teaching me a lot about network weaving and horizontal leadership.
From 2017 to 2020, I was a consultant with the Overseas Development Institute and Brink as part of the LearnAdapt programme. We worked closely with the FCDO (when it was the Department for International Development) to create systems and processes and nurture an environment that enabled innovative and adaptive programming. At various times, I played the role of researcher (see my writing), idea synthesiser, facilitator of learning processes, convenor of public workshops and author of internal guidance notes.
From 2013 to 2015, I was an ODI Fellow / economist embedded in the Zanzibar Planning Commission. I led the design and coordination of the review of Zanzibar’s medium-term development plan and early parts of the drafting of its successor. I advised the government on all manner of issues, mentored colleagues and co-authored policy reviews. Before that, I was an energy economist at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, writing papers on how trends in energy and climate change might influence foreign policy.
And what else?
I live in South London with my Dutch wife and our super-fluffy cat, Lewis. I’m a proud Cornishman and farmer’s son (but also a vegan!). To relax, I play drums for the Sunday Assembly (that’s me at Wilderness Festival 2021 below), do improv comedy, walk the South West Coast Path and run long distances. My pronouns are he/his/him.
Helpful things to know about me
- I’m genuinely enthusiastic and energetic – it’s not just a face I put on. However, at the same time, I’m an ambivert – I get energy both from being by myself and by being with others.
- I’m deeply intentional in how I spend my time and energy. I have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual processes of reflection.
- I tend to experiment my way to an outcome rather than having a long-term plan.
- I’m an insatiable learner. I rarely press repeat on the same thing, always looking to experiment and improve. I am drawn to new and shiny things and learning from everyone on a team.
- I love to work with organisations who are structured in a non-hierarchical way, supporting self-management and distributed leadership with a clear philosophy of sharing power. I strongly believe that there is a beautiful creative space between rigidity and disorder (which is why I love Liberating Structures).