While working in Bangladesh for the international Red Cross and Red Crescent, I developed an amazing team and together we created a short documentary that leveraged a hot environmental issue - river erosion - to increase interest and financial support. The result: a comprehensive advocacy campaign that led to a major donation and the formation of a partnership for service delivery between two NGOs.
The international media had been denied access to the disaster in China and with the loss of their access, we lost our major channel to influence government donors. Until we turned the problem on its head and negotiated an agreement with the media to pool our disaster zone footage and provide equal access for interviews. Suddenly we went from not being able to get the story out, to significantly influence the story being told.
Multi-stakeholder engagement is one of our greatest challenges. Truly listening to concerns and igniting the passion to participate in others are some of our most important skills. Working with foundations and NGOs together to solve social challenges, connecting with purchasing publics and those who influence them, and training others to host these important conversations as well - these are some of my favourite professional adventures.
Having worked as a consultant in Social Enterprise and Community Economic Development for more than a decade, I had the opportunity to put my own advice to work in my SME. I and my business partner developed our award winning eco-hotel Océano Patagonia, from feasibility analysis, to construction, to business start-up and commercialization, all utilizing skills I had developed working for clients in other industries. www.oceanopatagonia.com
Building trust in the consulting environment takes time, a history of successful projects, and the ability to collaborate and redirect as changing climates and viewpoints dictate. My team at my consultancy in Canada, Go-To Group, had the privilege of developing these long-term relationships with the organizations we served, from providing funders with one of the first analysis of the social enterprise environment, to undertaking research that helped us develop strategic plans deeply founded in reality.
The mentoring of mid-career professionals has been the greatest gift. To open up the path, discuss different approaches and hand over the reigns so that those learning do so on their own terms, with their own mistakes and successes. My coaching, mentoring and advising services range from one-time problem-solving over coffee to comprehensive professional and personal development plans. It is a completely individual process founded on trust, accountability, confidentiality and respect.