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Published on enero 19th, 2023

Supporting Future Local Leaders in Asia Pacific and Beyond

Illustration by Piotr Nyga
“It inspires me to persevere and perform my best where I am to make positive change or even just influence positive change and contribute to it for nation building for my country and region.” - Emerging Leader, Junita Goma

Backing the growing momentum to change power dynamics in global development organisations, DT Global is looking at ways to further empower local staff and promote a more sustainable and locally driven development model.

One way we are doing this is by investing in the professional development of our top local talent through the Emerging Leaders in International Development (ELID) program — currently being piloted in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The inaugural program, launched in September 2022, invited 15 participants to join an innovative and collaborative 12-month training course exploring effective leadership approaches.

The first cohort of emerging leaders — a diverse group from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Philippines, Vanuatu, and Kiribati — have taken part in weekly online training, coaching, and mentoring sessions to connect and learn more about concepts of leadership and how to tackle complex issues in the development space.

Despite being less than halfway through the program, participants have already indicated the positive benefits of learning in a collaborative environment, with one participant saying “I will utilise monthly coordination meetings to share what I have learned in the ELID course with my team. In addition, I am practicing some of the adaptive leadership tools in my day-to-day mentoring and supervision of staff.”

A chance to connect in person

For the Emerging Leaders, a visit to Canberra for the 2022 Australasian Aid Conference (AAC) and the ELID Leadership Training Workshop in late November 2022 have been among the highlights of the program so far.

Emerging Leader and Deputy Facility Director of the Australia-Solomon Islands Resource Facility, Brenda Andrias, said of the visit to Canberra, “It was mind-blowing, I spent the week being challenged, critiqued, and inspired. A truly thought-provoking event, engaging with some of the best minds in development, learning from global practitioners, and many of my fellow Pacific Islanders.”

“I am grateful to DT Global for the opportunity to participate in the AAC 2022 but more importantly to bring together the Emerging Leaders in International Development to Canberra for a week of learning and critical discussion about development in our region, and how we as leaders are shaping the kind of changes we see in our region,” she continued.

Having the opportunity to meet in person was a game-changer for the participants, who acknowledged how powerful it was to be in the same room when listening to speakers, sharing ideas and stories, and learning together.


Crucial leadership conversations

Over the week, the Emerging Leaders listened to panel discussions by local leaders overseeing DFAT-funded programs in the Asia Pacific, including Jennifer Kalpokas and Mereani Rokotuibau (co-leaders of Balance of Power) and Fremden Yanhambath (Director, Vanuatu Skills Partnership). They mulled over the importance of localising language in development circles and examined the importance of having crucial leadership conversations.

Discussions around decolonisation and locally led development practices, facilitated by Anna Gibert and Peni Tawake, allowed participants to reflect on their own experiences and explore new ways to ‘yield and wield power’ in the future.

ETMP, a specialist firm providing Adaptive Leadership training and coaching, have been core partners in the delivery of the ELID program. Meeting in person with facilitators and coaches Duane Vickery, Danny O’Neill, and Toni Hackett, after many virtual conversations, was a special moment for our ELID participants. Receiving one-on-one coaching has been one of the most valued and critical aspects of the program.

International development specialists Duncan Green and Jane Lonsdale shared adaptive management insights and encouraged participants to think about how change happens and what individuals can do to positively progress change within their own workplace.

As part of a whirlwind visit to Canberra, the Emerging Leaders were also invited to Parliament House to network with DFAT personnel and to meet with other key dignitaries from the aid and development sector. Rounding out the busy week, participants even managed an early morning encounter with one of Australia’s most iconic furry animals — the kangaroo.

Joanne Choe, DT Global’s Head of Program Quality and Gender Asia-Pacific, initiated the program and hopes learnings from the first emerging leaders pilot project will eventually pave the way for the initiative to be rolled out globally so we can better invest in our strongest asset — our team.

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