As Chemonics launches its new U.K. Division, Senior Vice President Jeff Wuorinen shares our goals, values, and approach to partnerships.


Jeff Wuorinen is the senior vice president of Chemonics’ U.K. Division. He oversees all aspects of development program design and delivery for U.K. clients, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development (DFID). He also leads engagement with British and regional suppliers, particularly small businesses, NGOs, and academic institutions.

1. Why is Chemonics creating the U.K. Division?

While our U.K. Division is new, Chemonics has worked with Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) to deliver more than £100 million in development programs since the early 2000s. However, the U.K. Department for International Development’s and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) emphasis in recent years on transparency, cross-sector thinking, innovation, and technical expertise within the development space confirmed for us that the time was right to bring our experience more fully to the U.K. development community. These attributes are core to Chemonics as an organization, and we knew we could help answer that call. We bring to the table more than 40 years of experience, many of those spanning technical sectors from health to food security to crisis response, and a proven track record for transparent and ethical delivery.

If something goes wrong, we own it and fix it. I believe the fact that we’re employee-owned promotes transparency and openness. Through our more than 5,000 staff around the world, most of whom are locally hired, we deliver thoughtful solutions that are grounded in the local context. Our people, supported by our systems, enable us to deliver what HMG demands from its suppliers — the ability to see the big picture, apply lessons learned across all of our projects, and promote meaningful change around the world.

We seek every opportunity to make a difference, never forgetting the people who rely on us to get it right. We carry out our work in a manner that leverages proven systems for efficiency, safeguards people, demands the highest ethical practices throughout our supply chains, and demonstrates value for money to our clients and stakeholders. It’s for these reasons and more that we see an opportunity to partner with the U.K. development community for a new approach that emphasizes how we do our work to the same degree as what outcome is achieved.

2. How do Chemonics’ goals and values align with those of the development community within the U.K. market and globally? How does the company hold itself accountable?

We’re already well aligned. The United Kingdom played a critical role in the development and adoption of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the goals inform HMG’s development programming. The SDGs are also integral to how we design and implement our programming. Our technical practices promote awareness, drive dialog, and track our contributions to each SDG. For instance, we know that SDG 13 calls for improved capacity to adapt to climate-related hazards and natural disasters. We know that as of 2017, we’ve improved nearly one million people’s capacity to do just that. As a development partner, we agree that to make the 2030 Agenda a reality, we must all hold ourselves accountable to implementing and achieving the global goals.

We also believe in implementing our programs responsibly. We place a high value on our code of conduct, what we call Living Our Values. In coordination with client oversight agencies, our staff are trained to detect, investigate, and resolve ethical issues. Since 2012, we have systematically managed records of complaints and resolutions related to ethics and conduct and expanded our outreach and training. This year, we are rolling out multiple trainings on sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse prevention to all staff and partner organizations.

As part of our decision to establish an office here, we closely evaluated our mission against the missions of HMG stakeholders, particularly DFID’s. We share a vision of a healthier, more prosperous world where people can live their most productive, independent lives. We deeply respect HMG’s efforts to tackle extreme poverty, strengthen resilience and crisis response, and build global peace, security, and governance. Through our work over the years, we’ve shared in those efforts and believe that this is the right time for us to more directly support DFID’s work and goals.

3. To create sustainable development impact, partnership is critical. Tell us about Chemonics’ philosophy of partnership.

At Chemonics, we readily recognize that no single organization or person can achieve development impact at scale alone. We think of partnership in broad terms. Our clients are partners. The organizations who help us implement are partners. Our beneficiaries — whether an individual or a government agency — are partners. We all have critical roles to play if we’re to have any hope of reaching the SDGs and achieving sustainable development impact.

For us, partnership isn’t transactional but a mindset — an approach to achieving and sustaining impact. So, we collaborate or partner with other actors in the development community, bringing the best minds together to find solutions to the toughest problems. The development landscape is vast, with demands that range from increasing women’s economic participation in Afghanistan to combatting HIV/AIDS in Zambia. From our experience, we know that development only works when we engage local communities in what we’re doing and gain their trust. That’s why we place so much emphasis on relationships with local people, civil society, businesses, and agencies. In fact, 90 percent of our 5,000 global employees live and work in the places where the development need is. Through our partnership approach, we are able to build local capability and relationships that result in more sustainable, long-term outcomes.