ABOUT OSACO HUMANITARIAN
OSACO was originally formed in response to growing global demand for experienced investigators, compliance and risk management specialists in the humanitarian sector. Since then our work has rapidly expanded to encompass a wide range of activities with UN Agencies and INGOs of all sizes across the world.
We are particularly active in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and currently have offices in Wellington NZ and Stockholm in Sweden.
"I'M DRIVEN BY A STRONG SENSE OF JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS. THERE ARE ALWAYS KNOCK-ON CONSEQUENCES WHEN PEOPLE BEHAVE IN A CORRUPT OR DISHONEST WAY IN THEIR WORK, OFTEN FOR PEOPLE FAR WORSE OFF AND LESS PRIVILEGED THAN THEM—TO ME THAT'S JUST NOT RIGHT."
We originally founded OSACO because we saw the massive need for oversight and compliance specialists—in particular very skilled investigators—who have real, on-the-ground experience in organisations. There’s no shortage of big consultancies out there with tons of academic and organisational theory, but we come at the problem from a more real-world approach, dealing with human nature at its best but more often, unfortunately, at its worst.
I started off as a police detective in New Zealand and then moved to the UN, investigating political assassinations in the Middle East. That developed into investigation work in UN agencies and International NGOs, and that’s now expanded beyond the humanitarian world into other sectors.
Years of on-the-ground experience in some of the worst human situations in the world give you a powerful insight into how things really work with people in organisational settings of all kinds. I believe passionately that things can be done better, so my aim is to bring this to bear on the human and organisational problems we all face in a way that really makes a difference.
"MOST OF THE FOCUS IN 'OVERSIGHT AND COMPLIANCE' SEEMS TO BE ON ORGANISATION AND SYSTEMS BUT, VITAL AS THEY ARE, EVEN THE BEST PROCESSES WON’T SAVE YOU FROM HUMAN FALLIBILITY. THAT’S WHY I TEND TO COME AT THINGS FROM A MORE HUMAN ANGLE—I DON'T JUST LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED BUT WHY IT HAPPENED TO TRY TO ENSURE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN."
I do what I do because it really matters how well our organisations work, not just on the immediate level—for those they are there to serve, the beneficiaries—but on a wider level. The positive impact of well run, high-integrity organisations can be huge, but the impact on society of corruption and passive mismanagement is greater still, often for the most vulnerable people for whom we should actually be doing our very best. This applies equally in big business, finance as well as the humanitarian sector.
I’m half British, half French, but I started my professional life in the Royal Hong Kong police. After 10 years working as an investigator in one of the most densely populated places in the world, I moved to the UN Tribunal investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. From there, I first joined the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services in Africa and then went into various international investigation roles before we ultimately formed OSACO.
Unfortunately my background has probably made me a sceptic when it comes to people, their motivations and the gap between what they say and what they do in practice, but I like to think I balance that scepticism with some idealism too. I’m convinced we’re capable of better in our society and how we organise ourselves, and that’s what I’m committed to.
"PERSONALLY I’M NOT A BIG FAN OF THE TERM ‘COMPLIANCE’—IT GIVES AN IMPRESSION OF TICKING BOXES AND DOING THE MINIMUM TO MEET PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS. WHAT ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE SOMETHING POSITIVE TO ASPIRE TO, SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN? THIS WORK IS ABOUT INVESTING IN INTEGRITY AND GREATER EFFECTIVENESS."
I honestly believe that integrity—and the trust that it breeds—are vital if organisations are going to succeed in their objectives, whatever they are. I know there’s a risk of sounding like a moral crusader, but it’s actually about being more responsible in how we respect and handle the assets of an organisation; not just the monetary or physical kind, but the people involved, and massive value factors such as trust, good will and reputation. My aim is to promote internal cultures where a greater integrity is the expected norm, with employers investing heavily in stronger ethics and transparency.
I started my professional career in the Royal New Zealand police as a constable and, after specialising in youth crime, worked for some years as a police liaison officer in Maori communities where we developed a strongly proactive, community-based approach to issues affecting the wellbeing of the community such as youth criminality, gangs, drugs and reoffending. From there I moved on to national projects and then to consulting for a large global business, and then UN and INGO agencies.
One of the many things I bring to this work from my background is that victims are never faceless; the human cost of wrong actions is very real, especially on the grand scale that large multinational organisations work at. My background also makes me very direct—we’ll always say it how it really is. If we’re making a big noise about transparency and integrity, we have to walk the talk in how we deal with clients.