When the Berlin wall fell in 1989 and the world saw Nelson Mandela walk free in 1990, most people had the feeling they were watching history in the making. Both events heralded societal change in a profoundly positive sense. The year 2016 is marked by similarly stark events, yet causing feelings of insecurity or disbelief in many. Who would have predicted that the United Kingdom would choose to leave the European Union? Who gave a cent for the presidential campaign of a real estate entrepreneur and soap opera figure openly discrediting the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the United States of America? We are reinventing international relations as we speak. Wicked problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, migration, civil strife and persisting poverty require joint responses way beyond the ordinary.
In a rapidly changing environment PUM Netherlands senior experts is taking a hard look at itself and the ways it delivers on its mission. What remains is our deep commitment to voluntarism and a belief that the vibrant segment of small and medium-sized businesses forms the backbone of any healthy economy in a free and open society.
Much else is changing. The way we deliver our services for example, moving towards longer term client relationships and concentrating our advisory practices in 29 countries – half of them ‘least developed’ – around 4 major themes: food security, health & environment, trade & industry and services (with an emphasis on tourism and hospitality). We are reviewing the ‘social contract’ between the volunteer and the organisation, offering growth and development in a post-career yet asking levels of professionalism, commitment and engagement previously unseen. We want to be the pro bono management consultancy of choice for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in upcoming markets, demonstrably contributing to sustainable growth. We are seeking to work in partnership with complementary actors as much as we can and are trying to install a culture of continuous improvement in our own organisation.
In 2017 a new directorate Advisory Practice with knowledge managers, volunteer development officers, proposition marketeers, communication and fundraising staff will support our primary process. We will review and renew our network of local representatives and start targeted regional training programmes to improve the quality of our intake at the point of entry. We shall invite 7 staff volunteers to join 3 full-time directors to form a new Executive Committee overseeing our operations and partnerships. Further governance reform will lead to the installation of a proper supervisory board and an executive board of directors, thus adopting a two-tier governance regime commonly adapted among NGO’s and social enterprises.
Johan van de Gronden
CEO PUM Netherlands senior experts