Top managers sought for voluntary work abroad

Jul 25 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Senior and board-level British managers are being targeted by a volunteering charity to spend time on "troubleshooting" assignments in some of the world's poorest countries.

In a move believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, international development charity VSO is searching for managers from the private, public or voluntary sector provide high-level advice and consultancy to organisations fighting poverty in the developing world.

Targeting professionals of this calibre Ė who will undertake two-week to six-month assignments from September Ė is a new departure for VSO.

Volunteering of this nature is often more associated with young people and recent graduates.

The widespread perception of volunteering, VSO conceded, is that graduates teaching in a one-room school or doctors working in a remote area of the world.

But while education and healthcare are still an important part of what VSO does, volunteers today are just as likely to be working at a managerial level or in a business role, it stressed.

This is because many poor countries have weak systems and lack of solid infrastructure that prevent poor people from accessing vital services and local markets, it added.

The "troubleshooter" initiative hopes to place highly experienced people in a range of organisations including government departments, local NGOs, private businesses, cooperatives, women's groups and youth projects, where they will use their expertise to develop new strategies, systems and policies.

The organisation is therefore looking for people who have worked at senior levels and with proven track records in strategy development, managing organisational change, exercising sound judgement and setting-up robust systems.

They will possess strong leadership skills, gained through experience of managing and developing teams, and be able to quickly adapt to a new culture, it added.

Judith Brodie, director of VSO UK, said: "We are increasingly being asked for more senior volunteers who can provide high-level consultancy on distinct projects.

"We also recognise that professionals at this level may not be able to make a one to two year commitment. The troubleshooter initiative allows us to meet partners' needs and offer senior managers the opportunity to use their expertise overseas," she added.