Nick Finney put his Leadership Academy for Development (LAD) training to work almost immediately. The 40-year old native of Yorkshire, England, directs Asian operations for Save the Children, an international humanitarian relief organization focused on the needs of children. Finney participated in LAD’s 2015 workshop, “The Role of Public Policy in Private Sector Development,” conducted in partnership with the Singapore Management University (SMU).
Two of the case studies Finney discussed during the week-long LAD workshop required students to analyze options to improve border management in Costa Rica and Indonesia. They were particularly relevant to Finney since much of his work in 2015 for Save the Children has involved directing food and medical supplies to families in the wake of the Nepal earthquake, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“I deal all the time with the complex behaviors of governments and difficult regulatory environments where the goal posts keep moving,” he said. “The LAD training really helped me understand all this in a more holistic way.”
The Leadership Academy for Development, part of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, trains government officials and business leaders from developing countries to help the private sector be a constructive force for economic growth and development. Participants benefit from lectures and discussions centered on real-life case studies led by a team of international scholars and local experts. Students are also required to work in teams to apply the ideas and skills they have gained to specific challenges they are facing in their professional duties.
That team assignment “triggered something for me,” Finney recalled. He had been thinking about Save the Children's work to persuade more motorcycle riders in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia to wear helmets. Motorcycle accidents are now the leading cause of childhood deaths in Thailand, for instance, where parents often balance multiple kids on their bikes, and teenagers as young as 13 race one another through traffic-clogged streets. Thai law requires all riders to wear helmets but few people comply and police are often reluctant to issue tickets.
Finney and the Save the Children team are applying some of these ideas around compliance and enforcement in Thailand: The “Helmet Hero” campaign includes playful videos designed to appeal to young people that have attracted a wide following. One video, for instance, features a monk who warns young people that even his blessing can’t protect them if they don’t wear a helmet.
After the Singapore workshop, Finney stayed in touch with LAD-affiliated faculty member Kent Weaver who will teach the LAD curriculum at SMU again early next year.
“Kent suggested I write the helmet campaign as a case study about how to affect behavior change.” Finney has done that and come January, the student will become the teacher—Finney will take the podium, helping to teach a new group of LAD participants.