BFP: What do you do?
TB: Based in Vietnam, but operating across the Asia Pacific region, I work for CARE International and am developing new programming and partnership opportunities between CARE and the private sector, which address poverty and social injustice.
This has come from the premise that CARE believes the private sector plays a critical role as an enabler of sustainable economic growth and development. We engage with multi-national corporations, SMEs and others to ensure fair, transparent interactions that take into consideration the unique assets and needs of those marginalized and vulnerable populations we seek to serve.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
TB: The diversity of the day-to-day. I work with CARE colleagues in a variety of countries in this region, through which we are assessing collaboration opportunities with several different industries – such as retail, finance and pharmaceutical. I also get the chance to profile our experiences and learnings at events and forums, and examine how we might best leverage these and scale up this work.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
TB: In this particular nexus of business, NGOs, civil society and public sector working closer together, it can take time to find those partnerships and tangible ideas that genuinely have the potential to make a difference over the longer term.
A lot is talked about “impact” and how to best measure this, and currently, as a wider community, we are all still struggling with what best practice tools might look like to do this. We’d benefit from such tools, and also from more pragmatic approaches taken by organisations to how cross-sector collaborations of these kinds are ultimately brokered, managed and implemented.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges?/ What is the secret of your success?
TB: Focusing in on what it is your organisation brings to these types of multi-stakeholder discussions. Knowing your boundaries and your limitations as a partner, and sometimes having to cede control of certain things, and appreciate that you cannot always deliver the results to which you aspire, but that you can still learn from these experiences.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
TB: Many of the same skill sets required to engage on issues of sustainability and community engagement are found across different sectors and roles – whether this is for a corporate CSR manager, or for an NGO partnerships manager.
Having a diverse set of sectoral experiences is becoming more recognised as a positive for employers of these types of roles. Finally, the CSR eco-system is a small one, often relying on a networked approach to how respective companies and NGOs recruit and source their talent.
BFP: Finally, what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
TB: Connectivity, new ideas, and a chance to learn from the experiences of others – whether through achievements or challenges. I think BFP has grown very rapidly into a hugely useful and resourceful network, and long may it continue!
Thank you to Tim Bishop for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.