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Charles Duff is Aurecon’s Industry Leader for International Development Assistance. He is a career development professional and has been responsible for the delivery of a wide range of development programmes across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. An economist by training, Charles was previously Chief Operating Officer, Europe Middle East & North Africa for Coffey International and Managing Director of Enterplan Limited, a leading UK development consultancy, following a period with PricewaterhouseCoopers in the United Kingdom.
What drives you?
Making a difference in the world on a meaningful scale. Development programmes impact the lives of the most vulnerable people in society and there is a direct correlation between the amount of imagination, energy, effort and innovation applied and the outcomes in terms of genuine improvements in the quality of people’s lives.
Your most challenging project? Why
Leading the team in delivering the personal initiative of the Prime Minister of the UK for the economic development of southern Iraq. Prime Ministers want successful outcomes and they want them now! Enrolling very senior politicians, civil servants, army officers and corporate leaders in a common approach against tight timelines is not for the fainthearted – especially in a very challenging operating environment. But the benefits of supporting a community in moving from civil war to peaceful economic prosperity are plain. Where they succeed, initiatives such as this save lives.
An essential key to innovative thinking? And why?
Recognising that you do not know the answer and creating the space for conversations that allow everyone to contribute, and where no idea is a bad one before beginning the process of narrowing down the possible options to explore. Much innovation is stifled by leaders who set constraints around the process before it begins.
The most important lesson you learnt early in your career.
Situational leadership and engagement. It is important to work with people in ways that enable them to make their greatest contribution. In many cases, enrolment is more important than direction.
One of the great challenge facing the International Development Industry is...
Population growth and the ability of development assistance to stay ahead of the challenge, such that levels of poverty (in the widest sense of the word) and inequality decrease rather than increase.
Industry Leader, International Development Assistance
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