Career Profile: Brendan Rigby

Career Profiles
Brendan Rigby

Brendan Rigby

WHAT DO YOU DO?
I currently juggle a number of different global developments balls. At the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education, I’m a PhD candidate in the Language and Literacy Education department. I’m trying to understand the literacy practices of out-of-school children in northern Ghana from the perspective of ten children and their communities. I invited these children to document their literacy through digital photography, and they produced an amazing 4,000 images, which I will use to explore questions of education service provision, complementary education and literacy. In addition, I act as an independent education specialist and consultant for organisations including Plan International, UNICEF, DFID and Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority. I’ve provided technical support to projects ranging from education in emergencies and safe schools in Indonesia to the digital assessment of languages in primary schools. Last, I’m the co-founder and Managing Director of WhyDev, an Australian non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting individuals and communities who want to get development right.
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?
Similar to most development professionals, I started in a volunteer role. Going back before volunteering, I studied as an archaeologist, working on dig sites in Australia and Uzbekistan. I followed this by entering the teaching profession, acting as a primary and secondary school teacher in China and Australia. While completing a Masters in Development Studies at the University of NSW, I took on volunteer roles at Centre for Refugee Research and ActionAid Australia, while working as a researcher and project manager at Macquarie University. I moved back to China, worked in a microfinance NGO and picked up consulting work on World Bank grant applications. Next, I took on a role as an education officer with UNICEF Ghana, in their field office in Tamale. My support of an education intervention for out-of-school children inspired me to pursue a PhD.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?
If you want to work in education, study education. It can be in teaching, research or policy. A firm foundation is a technical one. Then, build on this foundation. Pursue volunteer opportunities that will expose you not only to education, but also to how organisations operate. Find opportunities to build your management skills and experiences. A technical background combined with management experience is a strong resume. This can be complemented through international (field) experience, which can best be gained by a willingness to go where others will not. Last, build an online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms.

Career Profile: Paola Gianturco

Career Profiles
paolagianturco.com/

Paola Gianturco (Photo by CTTV-America)

Paola is the author of Grandmother Power and Women Who Light the Dark.  She advocates for development using her creative talents.
WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am an author and photographer who has documented women’s lives in 55 countries, all working to create a better future for their families and communities.

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

My story is unique. I was originally neither a professional writer nor photographer and I never studied either discipline.

I spent 35 years in business, mostly as a communications strategist or working to win clients for advertising agencies. That last year, I also taught summer executive institutes at Stanford University.

After that year, I was exhausted; I had earned a million United Airlines Frequent Flyer award miles (so I could go—and stay—virtually anywhere free); and I had earned two years worth of money in one year (I’d bought myself a year).

I decided to take a year off and do only what I loved most (photography and travel) and what I wanted to learn next (about women’s lives in the developing world).

That year, I created a photographic book. I had so much fun doing that book that I never went back to business.  In 2012, my fifth book was published. So much for “a year off!”

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

First: if you learn fast enough and work hard enough, you can do what other people believe is “impossible.” Focus, work like crazy, and disregard the nay-sayers.

Second: forget everything you hear about what you’re “supposed to do” at a specific age.  I started my second career at age 55; I am now 75 and starting book number six. (I’m also convinced that “amazing” work can be done when you are supposedly too young to do it.)

Third: the book industry is changing faster than you can read this sentence. Stay current or you may discover that what you’re creating has no market.

Fourth: do your best to change the world. Future generations are relying on you.