We have gained the knack of ‘feeling the pulse’ in communities, and have known tremendously well that a community is not necessarily homogenous or has ‘one voice’. Through years of undertaking participatory research, impact assessment, risk appraisal, formal teaching, training development and delivery, we have been privileged to learn about social listening, and listening well.
Each of us in the team has over two decades (excluding years we spent for postgraduate studies) work experience. Each of us is also well-seasoned in applying the rigours of social science research as we work with communities, including indigenous peoples, in developing countries.
We each have held management and leadership roles in our previous and current organizations. We each have held roles as leaders as well as followers. We have been managing projects, so we have become proficient in all phases, i.e., from conceptualization through feasibility, then implementation through monitoring and evaluation to closure. We have known what it means to make decisions and how one needs to make judgments or arrive at conclusions.
We have provided research-based advice to leadership and top management teams in government, business, and local organizations. We hold formal meetings with state agency officials, make boardroom presentations to company executives, as well as find ourselves in the rice paddies doing participatory data-gathering, or simply observing in the neighbourhood alleys, or attending community rituals – we soak in the field, as we do our work.
We have walked through farms in upland and lowland locations, visited ‘illegal mine sites’, attended community meetings, listened to public hearings, and facilitated planning workshops. We have examined diverse issues such as corruption, rural-to-urban migration, non-farming livelihood, human trafficking, resettlement, disaster preparedness, forest protection, traditional land tenure, climate change adaptation, and more.
We have immersed ourselves in the field. We have dealt with tense and awkward situations, listened to emotionally laden discussions – in sundry circumstances and diverse venues as we involve ourselves in documenting how two or more parties aim to 'get things right', with each pursuing their respective interests.
We have dealt with issues pertinent to distribution of benefits – tangible and intangible, cash and non-cash, short-term and long-term – that emanate from projects that come into localities. We have looked at ‘big-time’ and ‘small-time’ corruption, and power brokering in different levels and of several forms, and so forth. We would hasten to say that we have also witnessed the incredible power of trust and respect in bringing out the utmost capabilities of people – individuals, dyads, groups, and communities. We do lament about the enormous opportunities foregone when people feel excluded, unheard, disrespected, discriminated against, or denied of their economic, political, social and cultural rights.
We put a high premium on integrity and professionalism from how we deal with our clients and partners to how we treat our co-workers, superiors, and everyone else regardless of culture, background, or gender. We place the highest importance on the quality and timeliness of our work.
We work not simply with our sleeves rolled up, but with our feet deep in the mud, and loads of field gadgets on our backs. We work punctiliously and cheerfully, and we do deliver.
In any project, a core task is stakeholder management. This is true whether the project is being planned or already ongoing. From our perspective as fieldworkers and project managers, any project carries the mandate to manage relationships.
Our services – which include social risk analysis, social due diligence, project scoping, issue studies and social development – are inter-linking. Depending on the nature and degree of our engagement with clients or partners, one or more set of activities may be incorporated in preparing a comprehensive stakeholder management plan. This task involves, among others: