As director of the BBC World Service, Nigel Chapman oversaw the rapid expansion of BBC programming into different parts of the world. Over a period of just four years, the British national grew the BBC World Service’s radio audience from 145 million a week in 2004 to 183 million in 2008. He also expanded the BBC footprint into important emerging markets by offering channels such as BBC Arabic Television and Persian TV, contesting the likes of Al Jazeera in its Middle East backyard.
Chapman’s successes in the media industry made it all the more surprising when he stepped down from BBC and joined Plan International as CEO in 2009. Yet, what seemed like an abrupt end to an illustrious 30-year career at the global news agency was more a natural progression than a haphazard career shift.
Indeed, there had already been some clues that Chapman had his sights set on the world of humanitarian work. In a 2005 interview with British newspaper The Independent, Chapman explicitly cited a career ambition he had yet to fulfill: running a major international charity. Further, Chapman had already been involved with Plan International as a trustee, which may have helped him understand the organization and its work, but, according to his own admission, did not fully prepare him for the tasks and challenges ahead.
“Being the CEO is a different level of involvement from that of an unpaid trustee — and it has been a steep learning curve,” Chapman told Devex.
Anna Patricia Valerio is a Manila-based development analyst focusing on writing innovative, in-the-know content for senior executives in the international development community. Before joining Devex, Patricia wrote and edited business, technology and health stories for BusinessWorld, a Manila-based business newspaper.