At GRM Futures Group, new leadership for a changing market

    Chris Legrand, outgoing chief executive officer of GRM Futures Group. Photo by: GRM Futures Group

    When GRM International and Futures Group merged in 2011 and became one of the largest development implementers in the world — particularly for global health programs — the impetus was growth.

    Three years later, CEO Chris Legrand is stepping down to launch a new, as of yet undisclosed, venture. Legrand leaves behind an organization he says is designed to tap a development marketplace flooded with new entrants and with new ideas struggling to achieve scale.

    In the past, implementing organizations relied on “traditional donors” — for example, the U.S. Agency for International Development — while official donor resources today are “flattening,” Legrand told Devex.

    These “traditional” approaches to secure funding “aren’t the ways that we can deliver development exclusively going forward,” Legrand added. He noted that the U.K. Department for International Development’s funding base seems to have “reached its apex” and that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which absorbed the agency known as AusAid, has undergone a dramatic shift.

    With official donor funding stagnant, implementing partners have looked to fill new roles between private sector investment and opportunities to grow emerging markets. The integration of GRM International with Futures Group, Legrand said, has increasingly pushed the combined business platform toward new sources of financing: impact investing, results-based financing and nontraditional donors.

    With Legrand’s departure at the end of 2014, the GRM Futures Group has appointed two new executives: Ed Abel, president of the group’s U.S. business unit, and Farley Cleghorn, chief knowledge officer and global health practice leader.

    Cleghorn will be tasked with turning “information into knowledge,” Legrand told Devex.

    “There’s lots of talk about harnessing knowledge … It’s exceedingly hard to actually do that,” he said.

    Cleghorn will also lead GRM Future’s “first foray” into a global practices system for delivering solutions that can apply across program areas. The new system is “a recognition that … we can deliver the best value when we can create global approaches,” Legrand said.

    He added that while the company will begin with a global health practice, it will likely add additional practices over time.

    Although the press release announcing Legrand’s departure noted that he is leaving to launch a “new venture,” the CEO emphasized his energy is currently focused on “buttoning down” the transition. He did note that his “great interest is in how to drive innovation in health through informatics,” or the science of information.

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    About the author

    • Michael Igoe

      Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.