BAIL Banter: Perspectives from Bay Area Internationalists
BAIL Banter is a series of interviews with San Francisco Bay Area experts and members of the BAIL community. If you’d like to be interviewed or to recommend someone we should feature, please contact Prairie Summer.
Today we are pleased to share the insights and perspective of Joe Dougherty, who leads Dalberg’s San Francisco office. He has served as a trusted advisor to donor agencies, governments, NGOs, and leading corporations for 20 years, and has worked in more than thirty countries. Before joining Dalberg, Joe was the Director of the Economic Growth practice at Cardno Emerging Markets, where he worked with the World Bank, Nike Foundation, USAID, AusAID and others to improve access to finance, raise agricultural productivity, and enhance the lives of the poor in developing countries. Earlier in his career, Joe worked with both Deloitte and A.T. Kearney, where he served as the firm’s first country manager for Thailand and worked extensively across Southeast Asia. Joe graduated from Loyola University in Maryland and received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business as well as an MA from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
BAIL: Joe, please describe your role and what excites you most about the work you do.
JOE: What excites me the most about my work is winning. It doesn’t seem politically correct to say that, but I actually like competition – it forces firms like ours to do the best job we possibly can for every client. Dalberg is a social enterprise that focuses on addressing the world’s most pressing problems, like global poverty, health, environmental protection, conflict and human rights. We have 13 offices around the world, more than 200 staff, and we serve clients ranging from the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations to public agencies like USAID and the World Bank, as well as leading companies like Google, Intel and Vodafone.
I’m always thrilled when we win a competitive bid – especially when we beat out larger, older, or better-known firms. Winning means that we’ve really understood a client’s concerns and have put forward the best team and the best approach. And, since we are selective about which clients and projects we take on, it means we get the privilege of working with innovative, forward-thinking people on an assignment that will lead to real and lasting changes for good. For example, for the past several months, we have been working with Room to Read to draft a new strategic plan. Room to Read takes a holistic – and really effective – approach to improving early childhood literacy and helping girls complete secondary school in Africa and Asia. Last year, Dalberg helped launch a new, $50 million public-private investment fund for agriculture in Nigeria. Nigerian agriculture has tremendous potential for growth (and job creation), but is starved for capital. We really believe this new fund will be catalytic in unlocking new sources of finance.
I’m a Partner at Dalberg so I lead our office in San Francisco and look after our West Coast-based clients. I also work with clients outside the West Coast in areas like financial services, agriculture, and education. Outside of Dalberg, I also co-teach a course on Social Enterprise at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which I enjoy very much, as well as some short courses at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC.
BAIL: What is the advantage of being based in the Bay Area?
JOE: There’s a tremendous amount (and variety) of activity going on in the Bay Area in international development, clean tech, global health and social impact in general. As you might expect, the Bay Area is also a great place to find fresh thinkers, risk takers and new approaches to thorny problems. There is a palpable sense of optimism and energy here.
BAIL: What is challenging about being in the Bay Area?
JOE: The flip side of all that innovation, energy and optimism can be impatience, naiveté, and even a certain arrogance. Just because old approaches didn’t work as well as they should have doesn’t mean they don’t have something to teach us.
A secondary challenge is simply getting around. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in the city, in Silicon Valley and in the East Bay, but it takes some time to get from one end of the Bay to another.
BAIL: What do you think is missing from the Bay Area international community?
JOE: A year ago, I would have said an entity that can bring together all the disparate actors in these related spaces around international development, global health, etc., but I think BAIL is now largely filling that gap. [Thanks Joe!!]
Dalberg is helping, too. One of the most gratifying parts of my job is being able to connect different people who are working on similar challenges and who can support and learn from each other. When we cooperate and share resources and knowledge, everybody benefits. For example, Dalberg published a report last year called Open for Business? The Economic Impact of Internet Openness (PDF). Google, sponsored the report, but may other organizations – Cisco, eBay, ICANN, Internews and others – contributed to it and many other organizations, like Mozilla, Wikimedia Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, can use it to support their advocacy efforts for internet freedom.
BAIL: Favorite spot in SF/Bay Area?
JOE: I love Point Reyes. Closer to home, I really like Foothills Park. One of least visited but most enjoyable spots in San Francisco itself is Candlestick Point, where I used to live. For indoor spots, I like to catch an old movie at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto.