Pro Bono Work
DSC_0837

 

In addition to my corporate clients, I also love to work with NGOs and not for profit organisations. Recently I have worked on a pro bono basis with Save the Children New Zealand, Oxfam  and Autism New Zealand and, since October 2011, I have been involved with The Adara Foundation, an Australian based International NGO,  which works with children in Nepal and Uganda. The following is an extract from an article  which was published in the Autumn 2012 issue of Typetype magazine. Typetype is the Journal of the New Zealand Association of Psychological Type.

 

The ISIS (now Adara) foundation

In May 2011 I was asked by Susan Biggs, CEO of the Adara (ex ISIS) Foundation to do some pro bono team development work with their Global Management Team at their annual conference in the Sydney head office.

The ISIS Foundation was established in 1997 and is a unique not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to make a positive difference to the lives of children in the developing world, specifically Nepal and Uganda.

Interestingly, one of the co-founders is a New Zealand lawyer – Audette Excell – who is still very much involved.  ISIS’ uniqueness stems from its funding model: when the foundation was set up, a corporate finance and consultancy business was also established ( the ISIS Group) so that the business could pay the on-going administration and general management costs of the ISIS Foundation. In this way, ISIS is able remain independent of government foreign aid and this also fits with the vision of ‘creating social change through business.’

Since the Global Management Team was fairly new, I decided to use MBTI as part of a Team Building day to help them unders

tand each others’ styles. However I was a little anxious given that the team of nine included staff from North America, Nepal, Uganda, England, India, Australia – and English was not necessarily a first language. Despite my concerns, the MBTI was both well understood and received, provoking an interesting discussion about the diverse work styles and implications for communication, teamwork and conflict resolution. My professional background has been mostly corporate and working in an NGO proved to be quite different. I found that the staff were more easily united by a common vision (the ISIS vision is simple yet compelling: “Always, always do what’s best for the kids”) and their levels of commitment to this purpose are enviable.

How did I end up working in Nepal?

The Nepalese Country manager, Pralhad, was particularly enthusiastic about the possibilities associated with the MBTI, and following his return to Kathmandu we remained in contact. In Nepal, ISIS works in both Kathmandu  and Humla, a remote and highly disadvantaged district in the North West, bordering Tibet.  Nepal is a poor country by any standard: the UN estimates that about 52 percent of Nepalis live in poverty; the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births is 281; the under  five mortality rate per 1000 live births is 48; adult literacy is 54 percent and female literacy is 42 percent. Humla has the nation’s lowest literacy rates, maternal and infant mortality well above Nepali average and food shortages in winter when families are sometimes snowed in for months. Access is by two weeks walk from the nearest road, or small plane from Indian border to Simikot (9,800 feet); villages are then only accessible by foot or horse.

Following the Sydney workshop, Susan, Pralhad and I continued to talk on Skype and it was agreed that I would travel to Kathmandu, principally to work with the Nepalese Management team. However, as the date approached, Pralhad began to see further possibilities and asked me to also work with a group of older kids (aged fourteen to eighteen) from the children’s home run by the charity. The homes had been set up a few years earlier when it was discovered that many kids had been trafficked out of the Humla region and were living on the streets of Kathmandu. The idea was that MBTI as part of two career planning workshops would help the kids in their future life and career choices, whilst the two day Management team building session was to be largely based on MBTI.”

I returned to Nepal in April 2012 to facilitate the ISIS Global Strategic Planning meeting. This was held at a stunning location a couple of hours from Kathmandu at a Himalayan retreat.  I also facilitated 7 days of senior managers meetings before running a couple of workshops on Team Building and Conflict Management. The work these people do is urgent, important and compelling – I felt privileged to be part of this.

I continue to work with ISIS (now known as Adara following a recent name change) and support them in their organisational development, team building and strategic planning. I also continue to coach Adara employees as required. My next trip to Sydney is in January 2015 when I will be facilitating a 3 day strategic planning event.

I continue to look for opportunities to work on a pro bono basis with  NGOs and other not for profit organisations.