WHO IS MICHAEL KETOVER?
Michael is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and AmeriCorps/ VISTA alumni. He was hired by the Peace Corps in 2000 as a program and training director for Papua New Guinea and Ecuador. He has also served as interim country director at 11 Peace Corps posts for a total of four years and as Senior Advisor to the CFO at Peace Corps Headquarters focused on internal controls and agency risk assessment.
Before and after Peace Corps, Michael worked as a senior inspector at the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Inspector General, as an evaluator of USAID and MCC international development programs, as a corporate lawyer and human rights and poverty law attorney, and in emergency and disaster response. Most recently, Michael worked on a USAID/Feed the Future project in Ghana and on criminal justice strengthening activities in El Salvador and Mexico.
And, as you’ll hear in the podcast, Michael’s band, the Strangely Optimisticks, will be releasing new music this summer.
You can connect with Michael here:
IN TOR 067 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Michael’s view of consulting for and advising development.
- How local troubles are such that the best option is to ‘close shop.’
- His experiences in many places in the world. It all started in the Peace Corps, with a bit of help from his law degree.
- Michael’s band, the commitment to his music and how he enforces ‘cyclical programming’ to keep doing meaningful development and artistic work while keeping a personal balance.
- His views on partnerships and their limits in terms of career development, personal qualifications and the development ‘black hole’ of applications.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Peace Corps
- Feed the Future Ghana
- Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
- AmeriCorps’ VISTA
- The Strangely Optimisticks (Michael’s band)
- Vanderbilt University at Nashville
- Development consulting, advisory and evaluation roles
- Law: corporate, human rights, poverty
- Local governance, social, political, environmental
- Job satisfaction
- Partner implementation
- Music and the arts
- Language learning
- Technical skills
- Civil conflict, development worker safety
- Arlington, VA
- Amherst, MA
- Tegucigalpa, Honduras
- Nashville, TN
- Papua New Guinea
- Miami, FL
- El Salvador
- Eastern Europe
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Life of a consultant
USAID mission in Ghana, decentralization challenges. USAID is directly funding local initiatives in poverty, the environment, gender balance, accountability and transparency, electronic systems, governance in general.
Political and natural science major at Amherst College, MA.
Honduras agriculture degree, obtained during Peace Corps stint.
Law degree at Vanderbilt Nashville, TN.
More involved in his Papua New Guinea job for Peace Corps.
Started as a lawyer, volunteered at AmeriCorps VISTA in legislation.
Internship, interested in public service. Member of the journal of transnational law.
Working on a reservation, he became interested in international volunteering.
Leaving his legal ‘monkey work’ in Miami. Not about the money, the job satisfaction.
The Peace Corps landing was not so radically different.
Getting on the ground as soon as possible, facing international experience, was a very good idea.
Michael extended and then left his Peace Corps
Helped launch new Peace Corps operations, worked with UNICEF in legal in Ghana and Barbados.
Gets involved in training, then evaluation, leaves.
Partner implementation is Michael’s current field.
Built relationships, but they were not critical to obtain important positions. Email made it very easy to stay connected.
Michael at Peace Corps in Honduras and El Salvador
Part of a team to make recommendations to HQ about whether to continue.
In Tegucigalpa, Michael’s team decides to shut down in there.
Insecurity became too serious an issue. Also civil conflict.
Also involved in closing of Papua New Guinea. “It’s another world.” More military presence since Peace Corps left. Embassy sees it as a blow to the local business community, a problem of perception.
Other accounts of failure
Cultural issues and customs in Papua New Guinea. “I though I has gathered enough background information.“
22:16 Michael’s music. “Lots of failure there.“
Articulating a vision for both music and development
“I’m a hustler. I love my work. I’m engaged and so is my wife, and the familiar situation allows that.” Music is very serious, Michael makes sure there is always time.
Family time is important.
He works in waves, sends applications to new projects, always things he’s interested in. Not a lot of send outs recently, it’s a cyclical process.
Will be moving to Eastern Europe, start sending out again.
Travel to places where he already has recognition.
Language experience has always been important.
Technology has crowded the market. ‘Black hole’: 1 in 25 people receives a response in their application.
Hard work creates opportunity.
Shifting, 5 years on
His happiness at work depend on his spouse’s. At this time life balance is met.
He’ll be doing the same, in previous and new places all over the world.
On networking: Communication, first impressions are important.
Having a technical background, and being friendly is important.
“Reach out. People are always looking for good, talented people.“
Go to the field as soon as possible. Hands on experience can be more valuable than graduate degrees.
Passion about being helpful. Meaning should lead to job satisfaction.
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Michael, 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.
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