‘New Year, New You’? At Restless, our transformation started well before 1st January.
In many parts of the world – or for those following the Gregorian Calendar to be precise – January is often a time of new resolutions and pledges about how to refresh, refocus, and start doing things differently. At Restless Development, our ‘new year’ starts in October, and in October 2022 we pledged this coming year would be our ‘Year of Transformation’. So, what do we mean by this?
Well, we’re building on the great progress already made against the refreshed Global Strategy and power shifting checklist launched last March. As a collective agency we are doubling down on this progress so that all of our energy and attention is on power shifting – both within our agency, and through our delivery.
Given that so much of our work is rooted in strong, people first community led development, we have been leading the way on this for a few years. But October 2022 marked a line in the sand for us; we were able to signal that all the moves we have made, the staff structures that we have been changing, the systems we have been putting in place, and all the experiential learning that we have enjoyed, is coming together into a ‘Year of Transformation’.
In November 2022 we held our Global Leadership Group meeting in Zambia. Attendance at this meeting was transformative in itself – historically our annual meetings were called ‘Directors Conferences,’ but over the past 18 months we have been intentional about changing our leadership team structure, bringing young people into senior leadership roles, moving roles out of the UK and really diversifying both who leads our agency and where they sit in the world.
So – it’s no longer a ‘Directors Conference’ – titles and grades no longer matter, and attendees range from Senior Coordinators, to Managers to Directors, with everyone having equal accountability, voice and agency within our leadership structure.
Below is a short podcast about our week in Zambia, created by myself and Primrose Manyalo, that provides a flavour of what we were doing, why this year of transformation is so important to us and how we plan to proceed from here.
Listen on YouTube:
You will hear from Chanda Chisenga, Zambia’s Hub Director about how our global leaders supported the launch of Restless Development Zambia’s national strategy and how ‘this global leaders meeting provided the connection to clarify the roadmap on what next. How do we connect, how do we engage, and how do we think big picture?’.
You will also hear from our Co-CEOs Alex Kent and Kate Muhwezi about what transformation and shifting power means, and from Naval Kishor Gupta – our India Director – on why transformation is so important. Yande Kalengo and Gabriel Iguma talk to us about their reflections as two of Restless Development’s newest Directors. Gabriel is fresh into the Uganda team to lead the hub, and Yande is our Powershifting Director (deservedly promoted from Manager to Director because at Restless we recognise potential and aren’t afraid to let young people lead).
Yande’s is a brand new role, created to ensure our power shifting approach runs through everything we do. Lastly, you will hear from Nikita Khana, one of our younger Global Leadership Group members on why our ambition of having 50% of our global leadership group below the age of 35 is so important to us.
Our resolution is to hold ourselves – and others – accountable to the powershifting checklist that young people created to ensure we shift power and support youth power to thrive.
So what’s your new year’s power-shifting resolution? How can you contribute to our ‘year of transformation’, and how can you elevate the voices of young changemakers to inspire others to shift power? We’d love to hear from you, and we’d love for you to join us!
New Year, same us – but stronger than ever through the power of youth-led change.
Natalie is the Strategic Partnerships Director at Restless Development. She has over 18 years’ experience in strategic policy design & implementation, project management, and developing partnerships. Prior to joining Restless Development Natalie worked with the UK Government, before volunteering for two years in The Gambia with VSO. While at Restless Development Natalie has been Head of Hub in Sierra Leone, and Hub Director in South Africa before taking on programme and strategic partnership roles and managing many of the agency's large consortium pieces and global projects.