Monday, 4 November 2019

Proud to be a mentor of Kateryna Kravchuk

Five years ago, the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia (Canada) contacted me with a request to mentor a woman who had just graduated from its Global Change Leaders Programme (GCL). The idea was that we would have a one-hour Skype call every two weeks over a six-month period, to support the graduate in her efforts to translate learning from GCL into practice at home. I loved the idea! My first mentee was Kateryna Kravchuk from Ukraine, very close to my home time zone in Berlin.

Mentorships are great learning processes for everyone involved, I believe. I have happily agreed to mentor further GCL graduates since that first experience. Some mentees have answered a short set of questions to present themselves on my blog. I will post a mini-series of menteesin the coming weeks, starting today with my first GCL mentee, in her own words: 
Kateryna Kravchuk - the economist, cultural researcher, focused in strategy, monitoring and evaluation of the projects aimed at improving the quality of life. Her main areas of expertise are community development, responsible entrepreneurship, cultural and creative industries, and cross-sector cooperation. 

(1) What is the main issue - or are the two or three main issues - that you are currently working on?

Currently I am busy with three projects: Creative Enterprise Ukraine (workshops and mentring for young entrepreneurs; keynote speaker for the Gender equality in culture and creative industries research), the evaluation of the UNDP/ADA project “Sustainable local development in rural areas” (two regions in Ukraine) and strategy development for Ivan Honchar Museum – centre for traditional culture in Kyiv. 

The main issues that are calling me since my childhood and more or less predefine everything I do are:

     Economic empowerment as a tool for building personal and institutional resilience,
     Leadership and power relations in the organizational environment,
     Culture and its impact on sustainable development.

(2) What makes you an excellent person to work on these issues?

Since I do interdisciplinary work, it requires multi-dimension perspective. This I have acquired through my education (both formal and informal) and extensive experiencing of various life situations (mainly through being a Girl Scout in my childhood, and then by continuous volunteering for various causes over the globe). Main skills and knowledge that help me on my professional path are:

     Public speaking
     Facilitation skills
     Embodiment practices
     Monitoring, evaluation, reflection skills
     Mindful relationship building skills
     Strategic planning expertise 
     Prototyping, risk-taking experience
     Experience in human rights activist movement 
     Holistic education management skills
     Education in economics and cultural studies
     Studying and practising the authentic traditions of my land

(3) How do you deal with obstacles and setbacks?

     Take my time to reflect (even if it needs A LOT of time)
     Examine my capacity and leverage my resources (know when to say no)
     Ask for help or advice; do not try to do everything on my own
     Study more, practice more (routine that keeps me going even in low energy mode)
     Challenge myself; take calculated risks (I like to experiment)
     Accept the possibility of failure (I try to enjoy the process as much as the result)
     Celebrate small victories (Rule of 5 things I am grateful for everyday)
     Dream impossible - I really do not care when someone tells me that my dream is                   unrealistic and this is what helps me to achieve it.

(4) What is your advice to younger women who want to drive change?

  1. Take care of yourself 
  2. Know your worth
  3. Look for like-minded people
  4. Be kind (always!)
  5. Take the responsibility over your life choices 
  6. Speak up
  7. Have a plan
  8. Enjoy the road and have fun

(5) What is your advice to people who are in mentorships - in your experience, what makes a mentorship useful?

This is from my experience being a mentee and a mentor:

     Speak of what is essential at the moment
     Don’t be afraid to be weak
     Learn from professional hints and tips
     Ask about the failures
     Ask about the inspiration 
     Learn from the personal journey
     Learn to benefit from the honest feedback 

Mentorship is like a mirror, it helps to clarify something that we cannot really see in ourselves and what we do. And it’s only up to us how much time and efforts we invest into it. The more we do, the more we get.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Classism in evaluation design

Individual interviews for "important persons", focus groups for "beneficiaries", right? Wrong!

These days I have been reviewing evaluations of projects supporting survivors of traumatising human rights violations in countries that are not quite at peace, or even still at war. One would think that in such circumstances, evaluators would be particularly respectful and careful with their interlocutors, avoiding questions and situations that would make them feel uncomfortable, trigger difficult emotions or cause a resurgence of their trauma. In some cases, the opposite is true:

Monday, 17 June 2019

Small group work - keep it fresh and productive!

It is the early afternoon of the second workshop day; the participants are a bit drowsy from a rich lunch; messages have piled up in their smartphones and some people would prefer to deal with those rather than discussing strategy or whatever the workshop is about. Small group work is on the workshop plan. What can you do to keep it lively and productive?

Friday, 17 May 2019

Two or three reasons why two are better than one

Evaluations come in many shapes and sizes. I have led multidisciplinary teams in multi-year assignments, and carried out smaller assignments all by myself. Last year was a lucky year, because most of my work happened in one of my favourite configurations: the tandem or duo - as in two competent persons with complementary or partly overlapping skills and knowledge working together as evaluators on an equal or near-equal footing. Two evaluators working together - even if one of them participates for a shorter spell of time than her colleague - means so much more than the sum of two persons' capacities. 

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Is there a way to measure efficiency in human rights work?

Jasmin Rocha and I reflect on measuring efficiency in human rights programmes in a new guest post on Zenda Ofir's evaluation blog. Have a look here - and enjoy browsing!

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Why internal evaluations need external perspectives

Internal evaluation can be an excellent way to check the quality of one's work, to track progress (in programmes or projects, for instance) and to gather information for management decisions and longer-term learning. To make the most of such exercises, they should go beyond self-reflection. Especially for small to medium-sized teams or organisations, sitting around a table and contemplating one's strengths and weaknesses, as well as successes and failures, is a good start, but just not enough.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Quick evaluation: What a difference a couple of days make!

You know those evaluations that come with dozens of questions on a whole complicated international development programme (or even set of programmes), to be answered within one week of desk work, one week on-site and one week to tie it all up? They are still around and they are not about to disappear. I used to hate them: The time frame makes it near-impossible to draw reasonably rigorous samples of respondents (for interviews or for a survey) and there is so little you can do and see in a week at the programme site. What can an outsider find out in one week that an insider doesn't know yet? After having worked on a couple of "quick evaluations" in recent months, I have adopted a milder stance. They can generate useful insights. But how? Here are a few tips.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

VEPR Certified

I am delighted to announce that I have been an EES VEPR certified evaluator since autumn 2018. EES stands for European Evaluation Society, VEPR for Voluntary Evaluator Peer Review - a stringent process whereby the evaluator, in cooperation with two experienced international colleagues, identifies own capacities and weaknesses (and ways to deal with the latter) in a documented dialogue that spans over several weeks

Join the EES and try out the process, it really helps to know and hone your assets!