Please tell us about yourself
I started out majoring in science in high school and then moved to foreign languages and liberal arts – to obtain a Master’s degree in French, Philosophy and English Literature. After working for a year in Mumbai teaching, translating and interpreting in French and English I went on to graduate with a Masters degree in French History & Politics from New York University followed by almost 2.5 years working as an editor and writer at Berlitz International in Princeton, New Jersey.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
This was the time when I started questioning the intellectual stimulation (or rather lack of it) and also poor job satisfaction of creating language packages for “immersion” targeted at rich corporates. I decided that my language skills had to take a back seat in order to have a more meaningful working life. I quit Berlitz in 1992 and joined an NGO in New York called Africa Enterprise Initiative. AT AEI we supported black entrepreneurs to set up businesses in the new and emerging post-apartheid economy. Next came a year at the London school of economics enrolled in a Master’s course on Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries. I returned to India and rather than joining an organization decided that free-lance consulting would give me a wider canvas for learning across a range of sectors.
What are you doing currently?
I am currently the Director of a small development consulting company – called JunctionSociale. JSe provides social development inputs for planning, design and M&E across a range of sectors. Our clients are mainly donors, NGOs and Government. They include DFID, WHO, UNICEF, WaterAid, SCF and local NGOs and Government agencies. JSe Consulting brings a strong rights based perspective to its work across a range of sectors including education, water and sanitation, health, governance and decentralization, etc.
How does your work benefit the community?
One of JSe’s core competencies is the Water, sanitation and hygiene sector. A current design initiative with DFIDB on an umbrella arsenic mitigation programme for Bangladesh has underlined the importance of linking environmental concerns with services for the poor. Working closely with policy issues and advocacy (at national and local level) I need to be better informed about the technical aspects of sustainable environmental management and tools that will help us achieve the balance between equity and sustainable development.