60 Seconds with…Esther Saville

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Esther had to say…

What’s your job here at Itad? 

I recently joined Itad to take up a new position as Head of Knowledge Management, to support Itad to deliver technical excellence across its portfolio.

What does that involve?

I am responsible for leading Itad’s Knowledge Hub, and promoting knowledge creation, sharing, and management across our portfolio. The hub will bring together learning from across our work and the sector and will support adoption of this knowledge across the company.

How did you get into the field?

I have been working in the Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) field for nearly 20 years, in the commercial, NGO, Government and academic sectors internationally and in the UK, with the aim of delivering strong evidence to increase the effectiveness of programming and policy.  For the first 10 years of my career I worked in the UK at the Home Office, the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, and in the Scottish Executive. My UK experience focused on strengthening policing, drug treatment services, and on strengthening policies and services to support social inclusion and reduce poverty.

For the last decade, I have applied this experience internationally, designing and implementing largely DFID-funded programmes including in conflict/post-conflict and humanitarian settings. I have worked across multiple sectors using participatory and rights based approaches; working through media and promoting social accountability mechanisms; using behaviour change and social norms-based approaches; strengthening and delivering services and providing technical assistance. I have worked at all levels including with communities, Civil Society Organisations, NGOs, the private sector and Government.

I believe that sharing knowledge across the research and evaluation sector, to ensure experience and learning informs future evaluation design, is critical to improving the rigour, utility, and continued investment in our work. In my roles as a Regional Research Lead at PSI, in the Research and Learning team at BBC Media Action and more recently at Options Consulting, I played a key role in lesson learning to ensure continuous improvement and innovation.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

So far I’m enjoying getting to know my brilliant and dynamic colleagues at Itad, and hearing their thoughts on how we take forward the work of the Knowledge Hub and what their priorities are. I’m really happy to be working in a role that ensures evaluation approaches are informed by the latest developments and thinking across the field, and to support delivery of high quality, robust evaluation. This opportunity consolidates both my professional experience and passion for strengthening evaluation to increase development impact.

Recent highlight?

We had our first Knowledge Hub away day last week and it was a great opportunity to get to know the team. We had a really positive day, learning more about how the different components of our work fit together and thinking through our work plan for 2017. There was much excitement in the room about the role of the hub and about working together to support Itad’s vision for knowledge and learning and our core values. And of course the Christmas party afterwards!!

 Favourite place you have visited as part of your job?

In terms of a country, definitely Papua New Guinea where there is no end to the fascinating, unusual and challenging situations encountered at every twist and turn. In terms of a city, Kathmandu has a special place in my heart and I hope it is able to continue to ‘build back better’ after the earthquakes experienced in 2015.

Esther Saville, December 2016