We asked each new member of our R&A Team three questions to get to know more about them and their passions – see their answers below!
1. What can you bring to Oxford HR?
Neil Berry: I would hope that I bring my enthusiasm for research and years of experience in recognising and supporting talented colleagues.
Nafeesa Usman: I enjoy research, the systematic inquiry, the curiosity behind it, and the knowledge generation. I have experience working in the non-profit sector on a range of issues including human rights, women empowerment, and community development. I am passionate about the sector, and I find Oxford HR’s mission compelling. I believe I bring to this role, the curiosity and interest to learn about executive search and my passion for building a better world.
Dawn Wells: Having co-developed one of the first internationally recognized methodologies for how development co-operation can align to the Paris Climate Agreement for the OECD, I have unique knowledge on how the development and climate spheres are merging, and how this is changing the landscape of the “for-purpose” sector. I built this knowledge through working collaboratively with climate and development leaders, and I hope to give Oxford HR competitive insight on how to pre-empt the long-run talent needs of organizations. More than ever in the face of complex global issues like climate change and pandemics, organizations will need diverse and inclusive teams in order to be agile and effective. I believe we have a unique opportunity at Oxford HR to build talent pools which are fluent on issues of equity and environmental literacy, to be able to respond to evolving social and environmental demands that organizations will be confronted with.
Maria Barco: I consider myself a fast learner, and thanks to my previous academic and professional experience I have developed a good capacity for adaptation.
Daphne Joseph-Gabriel: I wish to participate in Oxford HR’s humane-centred missions by bringing in the cross-cultural communication skills, sharp analysis capacities and diligent diplomatic mind I have acquired through my personal and professional life experiences and encounters with others.
2. What is your experience prior to joining us?
Neil Berry: I recently completed my PhD at the University of Cape Town, where I also lectured, tutored and mentored an amazing array of talented students. Prior to this, I was an economic development specialist in the UK government, tasked with addressing inequalities in London through engaging with stakeholders in the creative and cultural industries to identify and overcome barriers to entry and enabling sustainable business growth.
Nafeesa Usman: I graduated from the International Institute of Social Studies in 2020 with a master’s in development studies. During this time, I had the opportunity to engage with development professionals and academics from around the world on social justice issues and also found a new interest in conflict & peace studies. Prior to my master’s I had years of experience working as an independent research & documentation consultant. I have designed and led impact evaluation studies for social enterprises, SRHR, and rural development projects. I also have experience coordinating gender justice advocacy projects such as campaigns and workshops.
Dawn Wells: I have a diverse range of experiences. I started my career in private sector business development, founding a social enterprise focused on integrating global sustainability goals to be actionable at the local level. I then went on to work for the Earth Institute at Columbia University and consulted on the establishment of UN SDG indicators, and building technical expertise across climate and development in India, Kenya, and Uganda. I brought this experience to the United Nations, developing programmes, proposals, and agreements. Then, after completing my MBA with a focus on digitalization in the energy sector, I co-wrote a report for the OECD. In sum, I have working experience on the demand-side with over 22 countries in Africa, preparing consultations with Permanent Representatives, Commissioners, and Ministers on policy and programming, as well as with donor countries on the supply-side, which include OECD Members, EU Institutions, and private foundations, among others. I have lived and worked across North America, Europe, Africa, and India, both at the Secretariat level, and in the field.
Maria Barco: Before starting at Oxford HR, I was working in the consulting sector in Spain, collaborating on projects on electoral processes and misinformation. However, I have always had a professional interest in working closely with non-profit organisations.
Daphne Joseph-Gabriel: Passionate about Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, and impactful innovative business solutions, before joining the team I had had a diverse set of experiences both in the private and public sectors, in Paris, Brussels, Washington DC and in Haiti.
3. What are you most excited for at Oxford HR and who would be a dream client?
Neil Berry: I am most excited to become part of a committed team driven to finding the very best. My dream client right now would be Mackenzie Scott, whose giving to date suggests that if she were to set up a foundation, it would be a wonderful opportunity to place leaders from really diverse backgrounds to tackle some challenging issues that are very important to me.
Nafeesa Usman: I am excited about the possibility of organisations imagining new roles/teams to address the contemporary issues, like failing democracies, social justice suffering a setback due to the pandemic etc. New imagination of our current order requires thinkers and doers who can make a real difference, and this is what I believe OxfordHR does best, so I am excited to be a part of this! Internews, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Last Mile Health, Global Witness are a few organisations that I would love to work with!
Dawn Wells: I don’t have a single dream client per-se. For clients whose organizations that are non-profit and 100% geared towards having impact, and I find their passion super inspiring. For clients in the multi-lateral or for-profit sectors, where they must balance pragmatism, and the constraints specific to their respective institutions, with their desire to impact the world in a positive way – and I find them inspiring also as they are incrementally changing structures for the better. Being able to contribute to these clients’ success is exciting for me. I also think it’s imperative more than ever, that we source talent who have diverse lived experiences to hold leadership positions. The data shows time and again that, we are more effective in our goals when we work collaboratively with diverse teams. I believe Oxford HR has an integral role in promoting these opportunities within organizations, and I am excited to be apart of that.
Maria Barco: What excites me most about working with Oxford HR is the opportunity to meet organizations and projects that aim to contribute to a more equal and sustainable world. I have a special interest in immigration issues, so I would love to work with an organization dedicated to refugee or asylum issues.
Daphne Joseph-Gabriel: I am most enthusiastic by the idea of bringing about positive change within organisations (and hence society) through finding the leaders, thinkers and doers that will make that difference – pushing forward world-changing diverse leaders.
I would absolutely be thrilled to get the opportunity to collaborate with the Obama Foundation based in Chicago, the USA, and why not contribute to a potential global expansion!