Where do you currently work?
I am a Director of John Fargher & Associates Pty Limited. We established the company in 2011.
I am a social scientist with management, monitoring, evaluation and participatory human development expertise
What does your firm/ Organisation do?
The Directors and Principal Consultant have more than 20 years’ experience working in cross-cultural change and international development: John Fargher & Associates provides specialist performance management and technical services for investments in human and economic development. The company has built its strengths and core focus around managing change in cross-cultural contexts. Our activities add significant value to private sector companies working in emerging economies and public sector development agencies such as bilateral aid organisations, multilateral development banks and philanthropic organisations.
Tell us a little bit about your career history?
I have a passion for coffee that stems from growing up on a coffee plantation in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. It taught me not only about the highs and lows of the coffee industry but about the people and business environment needed for a sustainable coffee production system. This experience led me to discover my passion towards supporting sustainable behaviour change amongst individuals, communities and even organisations. For over 20 years I have worked in overseas development delivering interventions that support sustainable behaviour change in individuals, families, children, communities, government agencies, donors, NGOs and private sector actors in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Vietnam, Laos, Armenia, the Pacific region and Australia.
Was this always your dream career or it changed somewhere along the line?
My PhD is in water resource and an integrated catchment management. My core career was driven by my joy for landscape, people and a dream to work in Zimbabwe on water resource management to support policies and frameworks for integrated planning and allocation of water resources and working in partnerships across jurisdictions, agencies and sectors to develop negotiated management plans for water.
One key moment in my career was when I got a cherished opportunity to work as a Senior Research Officer and Project Manager, of the Kat River Project funded by the Water Research Commission in South Africa. The project I ran was instrumental in facilitating the formation of the one of the first Water Users Association (WUA) under the new National Water Act (1998) and supported us to prepare the constitution with community, including commercial white citrus irrigators and small-scale black farmers with institutional linkages between community and Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and Department of Agriculture (DWAF).
After leaving Zimbabwe in 2000 I worked in Australia and Vietnam on water resource management. My experience in South Africa and growing up in Zimbabwe gave me the skills to grasp different water resource institutions in differing contexts for ensured sustainability and relevance.
In 2015 I worked on coffee value chain projects with OLAM (Outspan Bolovens Lt) and CARE International in Laos supporting poverty reduction of ethnic minority communities with a focus on women and youth, improve financial literacy, leadership, improve negotiation, market linkage, and take up of GAP and innovative technology. At this point I decided to commit to one field as apart from water resource management I had crossed into numerous social and environmental fields, so I now focus on coffee.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have undergraduate qualifications in Social Science (BSocSc Hons, 1995) and a PhD in participatory methodologies, stakeholder engagement and behavioural change (PhD, 2002). My background in Geography and Anthropology has provided me with good understanding of both the understanding of social and environmental issues. My post-graduate qualifications provides me with skills in the practical use of program theory and theory of change as part of strategic planning and effective implementation to engage communities to adopt practices through a process of knowledge exchange, skill development starting with change agent’s innovators, early adopters and during this process others are inspired to change.
How closely does your academic education fit in with your job?
I am always learning and changing but my foundation is rooted in strict academic research practices. From this foundation I have worked across many fields and been able to adapt my skills to varying tasks and sectors, including natural disaster mitigation and preparation, WATSAN, Avian Influenza, clean air, sustainable tourism, hazardous waste, water resource management and coffee value chains. Key to my work is adapting international best practices towards engaging communities, so that they can adopt such practices through a process of knowledge exchange, skill development starting with change agent’s innovators and early adopters. During this process others are inspired to change.
I have worked effectively in cross-cultural environments communicating complex concepts to non-specialist audiences, engaging with partners and counterparts in many different development contexts. I have long-term experience in African and Confucian cultures as well as short-term experience in eastern European. In Australia I have worked on the communication strategy for the Lower Murray Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) and water allocation plan for the Northern Adelaide Plains and Barossa and Catchment Boards.
Could you have made the educational path shorter?
I had a shocking start to my education in Zimbabwe. I grew up at a time of political unrest. Classrooms were play grounds with no teachers. My parents could not afford private school options. It was because of this, that I had to fight for everything. Working long hours, studying with friends, talking with people and having a willingness to give everything a go. I do still struggle with fundamentals: - in particular writing even though I am now writing for the biggest online coffee publication.
What are the tasks that you do regularly in your profession?
I apply rigorous research methodologies with empathetic engagement techniques that enable women, men and youth across cultures, language and socio-economic groups to actively contribute to change processes. I am experienced in planning, implementing, analysing and reporting results to governments, donors and stakeholders/participants. I understand the need to fully involve key partners and stakeholders to ensure understanding, ownership, legitimacy, joint service delivery and joint accountability for sustainable results.
What is it that excites you the most when you are doing your job?
I see the real magic of coffee as the way it involves interaction between people, cultures, environments, politics and history. My motivation is to tell the stories is to support traceability, environmental sustainability and social good in ways that are commercially viable for producers, processors, traders and roasters. I have an on-going interest in promotion of sustainable, resource efficient and quality coffee production that is commercially viable as a practical way to improve livelihoods and address pockets of rural poverty for farmers in remote areas of the world.
Some of my articles for Perfect Daily Grind Speciality Coffee Publication from coffee producers to cafes.
And if you enjoy them – please give them your ‘like’. Your like certainly helps poor coffee farmers get a chance on the world market.
What bits do you find boring in your daily tasks?
Never bored. Time is my biggest stress. I see so much opportunity but have little time between household duties and work. Making change takes time. Making contact takes time. Making work meaningful takes time. And more important to do it well takes time. No room for error.
Any advice to those studying or aiming at this job or career?
The world has changed. I believe the standard job is not there anymore. Or hard to get. It is now about making your own way. Finding a niche. And making sure you are outstanding in it. But still retaining your sense of self and humility and joy for life. Be open to volunteer, continually learn and help others. Never say no to an opportunity. All the best, you are young, talented and Zimbabwean so you have it all.