Sounding off on the role of integrators

    Professional “integrators” can drive global development results by helping to connect cross-sector partners. Photo by: Elisabeth van de Grift / CCAFS / CC BY-NC-SA

    Next week, the Devex Partnerships & Career Forum is coming back to Africa. Stay tuned for buzz from the event — the first-ever in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — as well as interviews with development leaders and veteran recruiters on emerging business and career trends in East Africa and beyond.

    The growing need for “integrators” is expected to be a focal point. In a recent blog post, Kate Warren, senior director and editor of careers and recruiting content at Devex, outlined what people can do to find success as integrators.

    “An integrator is someone who understands multiple specialties and how they impact each other and excels in fostering collaboration between various stakeholders who may not be accustomed to working together, like government, private sector and civil society,” Warren explains.

    Many Devex readers find themselves relating to the term.

    “You are speaking about me!” Jean-Jacques Kudela said, addressing Kate in his comment.

    A team leader for about two decades, Kudela said he does not see himself as a generalist but a specialist in running international projects. In the past, he would depict himself as “go-between” in his online profiles though it doesn’t sound as professional as “integrator.” That has now changed.

    Zahid Elahi works as a team leader for a grant-making project under a rule-of-law program in Pakistan. He said the project uses an integrated approach where grantee organizations work with one another instead of doing everything on their own.

    “This 'integration model' is unique and I would like to thank you once again for highlighting this approach,” Elahi wrote.

    Allan Moolman said he and his team are now working to develop a conceptual model for integrated programming, and he’s looking for more insights on the topic.

    Integrators are needed because nothing in development happens in silos, Maureen Webber wrote; to be effective, one needs to have solid interpersonal skills because working with various stakeholders requires different types of engagement.

    The work of integrators is sometimes a derivative of tasks indicated in a statement of work, one reader suggested based on personal experience as a generalist policy strategist with deep knowledge of the energy and pharmaceutical sectors.

    “The issue is critical and needs more in-depth assessment and a framework for understanding both the role and attributes of the Integrator,” the reader said.

    Do you see yourself as an integrator? What advice do you have for those pursuing this role? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

    The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

    About the author

    • Ma. Eliza Villarino

      Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.