WHO IS DJORDJE VDOVIC?
“Afghanistan is a wonderful place, it has brought me a lot of happiness.“
What makes an effective leader? Well, according to Daniel Goleman, effective leaders demonstrate a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI). Of the five components that make up EI (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill), self-awareness is arguably the “heart and soul” component, because without it, leaders are shown to be inauthentic.
Terms of Reference guest Djordje Vdovic is one of the most self-aware, and more importantly, authentic development leaders that we have interviewed since the beginning of this series.
Djordje has worked for the World Food Programme (WFP) since 1992, and has enjoyed the abundance of opportunities to learn about and work in commodities, warehouses, ports, and supply chain management. Since his start 23 years ago, he has experienced a broadening of his work and life perspectives. “The worst thing that can happen is when people are focused on small and narrow objectives. Life is not an assembly line… It’s making the additional step to facilitate somebody else’s work.”
Many of Djordje’s assignments involve a crisis management objective in countries such as Afghanistan and Liberia. He currently leads a WFP project that has established the first “high energy biscuits” factory in Afghanistan.
You can connect with Djordje here:
IN TOR 071 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- The massive scale of the World Food Programme, with a focus on its big picture based logistics.
- WFP’s efforts in influencing the value chain for positive outcomes across the board, from local farmers’ incomes to promotion to macronutrients in the developing population.
- Djordje’s take on the personal difficulties of a development career and his ongoing quest for more practical living, to make it all work.
- His view of the future of value chain management in development contexts, as well as indecisiveness, red tape and other ailments he’d like to see eradicated from the field.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- UN, World for Food Programme (WFP)
- WFP’s Purchase4Progress
- Development logistics, food assistance
- Value chain development
- Electronic voucher programs
- Autonomy and delegation
- Emergency response
- Kabul, Afghanistan
- Jalalabad, Afghanistan
- Conakry, Guinea
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
World Food Programme (WFP)
#1 Food Aid organization. USD 6B a year budget.
Emergency, transitioning countries.
Innovation: P4P based, use purchasing power to incise on the value chains.
In Afghanistan, influence include government.
Last stop to date: Conakry Guinea, ebola emergency response.
When the WFP realized the amount of influence they could exert they reorganized the budget in a way that would favor local, small producers.
The goal is about timely delivery food assistance, so it is compatible.
They identified value chain problems. Solving farmers’ production issues would not be enough if the problems of formal markets, if they can actually be called that, are not dealt with.
Supporting villages meant dealing with direct issues. Farmers need more cyclical planning for both more income yearlong and for a better diet. Quality of inputs is also important, as are initiatives such as increasing levels of macronutrients in diets.
The biscuit story
Part of small scale producers, primarily of wheat flower, support to produce locally high energy biscuits. Biscuits can support schools.
Connecting outputs and inputs is a cornerstone of engineering a value chain for desired outcomes. An electronic voucher program was developed to promote locally produced commodities.
A Serbian swim
Not a conscious choice. Djordje has lived in 3 countries without having to move.
Saw an opportunity out with the WFP. It became an opportunity to try new things.
Moved around, gain managerial skills and power.
Ends up in Afghanistan. Confinement and constant surveillance, with scheduled leisure travels. Skype to meet with friends and family.
How logistics have evolved
WFP has made progress in value chains. Broadening perspective.
Djordje is working on a USD 15MM pilot about delivery optimization to fulfill UN goals.
“Life is not an assembly line.” Efficiency depends on how big a picture you can manage.
WFP programs have highly technical standards in both logistics and nutritional metrics.
People should work as autonomously as possible, to make flying schedules work. Djordje measures productivity in “how few times he has to go to the office.“
From emergency to emergency
It is challenging to maintain balance. “It is not healthy.“
For Djordje, emergency and development are synonyms.
’06 divorce. Family strains. But life started again.
Rebuilding things has been part of Djordje’s life’s work.
Sometimes conflict helps rebuilding failing organizations, trim bureaucracy.
Djordje does not want to micromanage anymore.
We all should utilize all of our experiences available to bring solutions.
Unfortunately there are still a lot of ideas but action is slow and indecisiveness.
Djordje in the future
Development careers require a lot of sacrifice.
“I look to capitalize in all my experiences.“
More explicit pursue of balance. A part of life that does not need to be understood in project terms. Upcoming paternity leave.
“Sometimes it’s about being behind people as they are trying things.” Panama: people were not buying into what they are doing. They want to do things their way, which in Djordje’s original view is not as good as WFP’s. However people quickly caught up and turned it into one of the best experiences.
Have both a sense of the big picture, and technical capabilities.
Work in as many different environments, mix skills and life experiences.
Be honest. Pursue your own point of view, still getting a grasp of everyone’s perspective.
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Djordje, 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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