WHO IS TAMAR KOOSED?
Tamar Koosed is the founder and director of Manaus consulting, where her work focuses on impact assessments and corporate social responsibility. She has provided her expertise to organizations such as Plan International, Underwriters Laboratories, the Microsoft Foundation and the Levi Strauss Foundation in places like Vietnam, Nepal, El Salvador, Colombia, Haiti, Brazil and India.
She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community and has published reports and articles with Business for Social Responsibility, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Global Compact
Originally from Brazil, Tamar holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California and an M.A. in International Affairs from the University of California-San Diego.
You can connect with Tamar here:
IN TOR 049 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Manaus, a development consulting ‘boutique’ founded by a Brazilian, working in LA on Corporate Social Responsibility and impact evaluation.
- Whether there is a real place for small players in the entertainment and not the international development capitals, how much of a personal network you can build and how much career advancement you can achieve this way.
- What Tamar and Manaus have achieved in helping large businesses develop their value chains, and the positive reform they have been able to observe.
- The remaining challenges of impact evaluation in international development.
- Tamar’s upbringing and her path into helping people.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Manaus Consulting
- Development consulting
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- Impact evaluation or assessment, quantitative and qualitative
- Human rights issues in value chains in the developing world
- Community engagement
- Sexual violence and domestic abuse
- Entertainment industry
- Personal relationships
- Organizational scale
- Jewish values
- Manaus, Brazil
- Los Angeles, CA
- Amazon rainforest, Brazil
- New York
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
In 2009, started right after graduate school.
Two focuses: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and impact evaluation.
Companies understand social responsibilities and practices in the developing world supply chains. Help in engagement in communities influenced, strategy, treatment of workers.
Impact evaluation internationally, qualitative and quantitative impact.
Tamar’s role is fluctuating. “I’m finding the role that makes me happiest, it’s evolving, but it has to do with involvement, the thrill of executing a project.” 50% in project implementation, 50% in management. “It’s an inevitable trade-off.” The shares swing month to month.
But finding the right balance means “you’re working on a smart company.” It’s a personal decision. “I want to stay small, involved.” It determines how aggressive the business development strategy is, not too much for now.
Human rights challenges throughout the supply chains
Large beverage companies. U.S. companies don’t understand a lot of how their developing world partners work, so they don’t realize or detect issues like human rights violations. Manaus helps in finding them as well as generally improving people’s conditions.
Every project starts with a thorough standard review, but the issues and the stakeholders map the way the project has to go. “We talk with a lot of people about the different sides of the issues.”
Business development right after grad school
“We’ve got lots of referrals.” Personal connections, particularly from the masters, have given Manaus the bulk of the work.
“I’ve always wanted to work on poverty alleviation.” She was raised in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, favelas were right next to theirs. Her mother was a doctor working on communities. She was exposed to the complexities and injustices, and felt how rewarding it could be. Jewish values: “What can you do for someone else who need it more than you do, to make the world a better place than you found it?” Tamar is never satisfied with progress
But after being in California she wanted to stay there. His husband was there. Initially she didn’t see a lot of opportunities outside of DC or NY, but decided to move around in state, work slowly. Thus Manaus started.
Ensuring impact while ‘just’ a consultant
In CSR, “We’ve managed to maintain long term relationship with our clients, we can see the results, our policies come to practice, the investment companies end up deploying.”
Impact evaluation is not so easy, she doesn’t always see what action organizations takes with the information she gets. Sometimes they do. Sometimes bad results compromise the use and publicity of a given evaluation
She always pushes for open access to their results, posting online, making it public despite the result. “But I’m not a stranger to the reality that many of our findings just sit in someone’s computer, are maybe read by a couple of people and that’s the end of our lengthy work.”
Accessibility and public knowledge of impact evaluations is a sector-wide challenge in development. They remain disconnected to implementation, there is no learning, no ‘best practices.’ “We don’t have a perfect answer for these.”
“We often get very surprised.”
On the women’s violence in Asia impact assessment, there was a very low response rate. News of the study had spread. First problem was refusal to answer sexual violence questions. Then, their sample revealed low levels of domestic abuse, but there was clearly selection bias.
A Californian development lone wolf?
“Most of the people I know work are in entertainment, not the development field.” She keeps in touch with people, and stays open for new relationships
“I’m thankful for living in a city where people are doing very different things that I am.”
There is people in LA working on movies about social issues which can have a big impact.
As a ’boutique consulting company,’ there is a lot of sub-contracting. “You’re wearing someone else’s t-shirt, you’re acting on their behalf,” but there is not as much agency to work on or fix some issues. Project failure is a lot more plausible in such conditions.
Personal relationships are also a big factor in all projects as well as causes in their failures. “When you have failed, oftentimes it’s not because of the challenge of the project, but because of people not getting along or don’t work together as people.” They haven’t done new businesses with some clients, it didn’t work well with the people. It should not happen too often. “We want to be happy doing what we’re doing.”
The future of staying ’boutique’
“In 5 years we are going to be doing the same things, differently.” Reach more scale, there is a lot of work to be done in CSR and impact evaluation.
“Go to grad school, and talk to everyone.”
The field is larger than it looks like from the outside.
“Talk to people.” Development people are nice. “Reach out other alumni, people in your network.”
“Ask lots of questions. Every time you ask something to someone, it gives you a different idea of where to go.”
Narrow your field down, be persistent, enter one way or another, you’ll find your place within a few years.
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Tamar, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I read all of them and will definitely take part in the conversation.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me directly, head on over to the Ask Stephen section. Don’t be shy! Every question is important and I answer every single one.
And, if you truly enjoyed this episode and want to make sure others know about it, please share it now:
Also, ratings and reviews on iTunes are very helpful. Please take a moment to leave an honest review for The TOR Podcast!