RdL Speaks with Andrew Catford from Hagar International about his Leadership Insights

Click the link below to watch Andrew’s video on his Leadership Insights.

 

Dr Andrew Catford

Andrew is the Global CEO of Hagar International, a non-for profit that works to free and heal communities of the trauma of human trafficking, modern slavery and abuse. He overseas five Program Offices in Asia with a staff of approximately 200 people and six Fundraising Offices in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK and US. Andrew has extensive experience in the international development sector having lived and worked for over 20 years in Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and South America. He has a proven track record of leading organizations to tangibly increase their impact on the lives of vulnerable children & adults and to grow. Andrew has worked for non-governmental organizations including Hagar International, World Vision and Build On and for the consulting company Hassall GHD, successfully securing and implementing large scale international development projects for a wide variety of donors. Andrew has 10 years’ experience as a Country Director in Senegal and the Solomon Islands, and he has been a Board Member of the Solomon Islands Development Services Exchange and Board Chair of the microfinance institution Vision Fund. Andrew holds a PhD focused on effective development approaches in Vietnam and he has also been a Master’s degree lecturer in international development at RMIT University, Melbourne.

What led to your success as a senior manager and leader?

I would summarize what has led me to success as a senior leader as being:

  1. Seeking out and then finding organizations and roles that I really believe in and give me purpose. Working in the types of organizations I have over the years, has enabled me to link my sense of purpose with my work which I am very grateful for. This has provided me daily motivation to work through challenges and succeed in what I do, given the direct impact I have been fortunate enough to see it has had on people’s lives.
  2. I have had several great managers over my career who really believed in me. They saw my potential and built me up in the things I needed to succeed. Now one of the things I find most rewarding, is to be able to do the same with staff where I see potential.
  3. Having a supportive wife and family. Being a senior leader is demanding and not easy, so having the strong support base of your family makes a huge difference to me.

What do you feel are the 3 most important leadership qualities?

For me the 3 most important leadership qualities are:

  1. Seeing the big picture – I think a senior leader needs to be able to see the big picture in their industry and for their organization and to have the ability to craft a compelling vision and strategy for the organization to take them to where they want to be, with key input from others. They need to have an eye on this big picture at all times and continually work towards this.
  2. Being motivating – It is not enough to just have a great vision and strategy. Another important skill is bringing the organization and team along on the journey so they fully buy into it and see it as their own. This is also key.
  3. Not being afraid of detail – As a senior leader, it is important to not be scarred of going into detail and it is important to have the ability to dive deeply into certain details at times, to fully understanding the context and determine the best way forward.

What advice do you have for dealing with a crisis?

My main advice is to never waste a crisis! A crisis although challenging, is also a chance to do things differently and quite often change old ways of working which were not effective or to break through organizational blockages.

We recently found this to be true during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization, we had not managed in our 26 years of operations to coordinate our fundraising and marketing teams globally, despite wanting to and various unsuccessful attempts. However, the pandemic because of its global nature and far reaching impact, provided a strong reason to do things differently this time around and we used the opportunity to put a global fundraising and marketing function in place for the first time, during the pandemic. This is working really well and will greatly assist us as an organization going forward throughout and well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic itself.  Or as another example, in Solomon Islands we experienced a large devastating tsunami and it provided an opportunity through the demanding response work we secured as a result, to grow and build lasting organization capacity and reputation, something that would not have been possible without that particular crisis.

What is your top tip for future and up and coming leaders?

My top tip for future and up and coming leaders is to find a good, experienced mentor (or two or three!). I have found having a good mentor or two, extremely helpful for providing independent advice and for running difficult situations past them.  Also, when a mentor is outside your organization they can give you true objective advice, particularly when you may be too caught up to see it yourself. I have found this invaluable

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