60 seconds with…Richard Burge

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Richard had to say…

What’s your job here at Itad?

Associate Director – Governance Cluster Lead. I joined in early January 2017.

What does that involve?

It is a leadership position within the company and I work alongside three associate directors who lead other thematic areas to make a significant strategic impact in the company. The role provides leadership, advice and support to those working on the two thematic areas of Governance and Gender. This includes oversight of overall project delivery, bringing in new business, management support, strengthening networks, providing thought leadership and quality assurance.

How did you get into the field?

I have been working in international development and politics for over 25 years. It has always seemed a natural path for me career-wise coming from a very early interest in the world and in issues of social justice and human rights. I found the anti-apartheid movement inspiring, liberation theology motivating and was angered by the tragedies in Bosnia and Rwanda.  I joined Christian Aid in the 1990s having completed a Masters in Latin American Studies. I’ve had experience working with non-governmental organisations, been a freelance consultant, held positions in UK government, and for the past eight years worked in development consultancy.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am four months into the job. Above all, I enjoy working with people – and there’s a great bunch of people at Itad. Working as part of a team and within a growing company has massive appeal. Consultancy work can be relatively isolating and unrewarding so who I work with – both internally and externally – is critical. I’ve enjoyed coming in to lead the governance cluster, identifying new opportunities (e.g. in anti-corruption), contributing to the project delivery (e.g. in governance design and research on empowerment and accountability) and contributing to building an already strong portfolio.

What new methods have you noticed in your sector?

I am really impressed with the knowledge and experience within Itad. I have noticed a real commitment to demonstrate our understanding and expertise in providing M&E and learning for adaptive programming in a way that I hadn’t entirely grasped before. This is particularly the case in the Nigeria suite of projects and in Research on Empowerment and Accountability, which is looking at how external actors (donors and front-line staff) use adaptive programming in practice. I am also gaining a better understanding from my colleagues of the use of specific evaluation methods which are critical in governance and gender work including contribution analysis, realist evaluation and social norms. I have also seen innovation in how partnerships are considered and developed in different projects.

Recent highlight?

Early days yet. When I joined I brought in a small contract to lead the design of a multi-donor governance programme in Uganda. I hope this will contribute to our body of governance work. We’ve also had a couple of important contract extensions which is always a positive sign with the client.

Most interesting question you have been asked recently?

One Friday afternoon I was asked, ‘where’s my kitkat?’ But – seriously – I was recently challenged and asked about how to measure political will to carry out democratic reform in a country where the power lies very much in how politics operates informally (and opaquely) rather than formally.

Favourite place you have visited as part of your job?

It has to be the Irish Embassy in Kampala. They do hospitality like no other. I was going to say the cemetery across from the picturesque English Business Park!

Richard Burge, May 2017