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Dynamics - May 2012 - My life in development: Charlotte Petri Gornitzka - EY - Global

Stepping up development transformations

My life in development: Charlotte Petri Gornitzka

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“We’re particularly focused on fighting poverty with a human rights perspective, and also creating and building long-term relationships.” Charlotte Petri Gornitzka,
Director-General, SIDA

After starting her career in adult education, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka has progressed through to positions in management consultancy and successive leadership roles with the charity Save the Children. Now heading up Sweden’s international development agency, SIDA, she tells us about her experiences and priorities for the future.

When I reflect on my career so far, I learned a lot from both the adult education and management consultancy sectors where I started.

I learned about identifying the driving force behind change and how people react to change, both within an organization and within society. I learned a lot about people and the importance of listening, as well as engaging people in the changes that they themselves will implement.

After some years working as a management consultant, I worked as the Head of Marketing and Communications with the Swedish Red Cross.

From the Red Cross, I applied to become Secretary General of Sweden’s Save the Children. I was there for five years and was then asked to head up Save the Children International and so I moved to London for two years, which is where the international headquarters is located.

Next, I moved back home to Sweden and began my current role working for the Swedish Government’s SIDA.

After a challenging start correcting budget problems, the agency is now implementing the Government’s policy on development aid.

We’re particularly focused on fighting poverty with a human rights perspective, and also creating and building long-term relationships. The strategies we use are often a combination of long-term support to the recipient government’s own proposals, or implementing their plan in combination with direct support to civil society.

When I get asked about the top three factors in making aid effective, I say that the first priority is you need to know what it is you want to achieve. Secondly, you need to be focused. And thirdly, you need the right partners.

The advice I would give people considering a career in development is to start by remembering that there is more than one entry point. If you have the combination of passion and professionalism then you should go for it — it’s the best career you can have.


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Dynamics, December 2012

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