Evaluation of agricultural development project

“It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend and endorse the work of Scott Rankin. In our working relationship, I have found him to be a technically sound, adept communicator who demonstrates all of the qualities necessary for an excellent evaluation team lead. Heading up a team of agriculture subject matter experts, Scott, although not an expert in this field, quickly grasped the core issues and developed a strong evaluation plan for a very complex project. He also was adept at the logistical side of being a team lead. He was a frequent communicator with our home office, making backstopping and approvals straightforward and timely.

But perhaps what I valued most about Scott is his soft skills in working with a variety of different stakeholders. He helped harmonize at times very divergent opinions on the team, [and] build sound relationships with our client while undertaking this project. Finding all of these qualities in a team lead is a rare thing, and Scott embodied them all. I would certainly use Scott again should the need arise, and others would be lucky to retain his services.”

Justin Lawrence, Assessing and Learning Portfolio Manager, QED Group, commenting on RCG’s work on the Knowledge-Driven Agricultural Development project, part of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative

Evaluation and design of “literacy and livelihoods” projects for women and youth

“Scott Rankin undertook an evaluation of the Women’s Economic Literacy and Livelihoods project on behalf of World Vision Afghanistan, with a brief to fully evaluate the impact and outcomes of the project across a number of facets, including broad adult education outcomes for women; links between women’s adult education (particularly literacy) and household economic security; and increased social mobility and participation in civil society and public life.

Scott conducted a thorough and incisive evaluation that explored both intended and unintended outcomes. In particular, World Vision Afghanistan valued Scott’s preparedness to ‘dig down’ into facets of the project that would have otherwise been left unexplored. The evaluation was inclusive, with the process proving to be educational for both community and World Vision staff. Both of these groups benefited from having Scott’s capacity-building program integrated into the methodology. The evaluation was delivered on time and on budget.

Such was the quality of the evaluation, and Scott’s ability to connect with community and staff, that World Vision Afghanistan utilized Scott’s services in the design of a follow-up project — the Youth Economic Literacy and Livelihoods Program. This also resulted in a quality project design delivered on time and on budget.”

Ian Dawes, Operations Director, World Vision Afghanistan

Evaluation of disaster recovery program

“I met Stephen Parsons and Scott Rankin from RCG in mid-2015 (six months into the Sampson Flat bushfire recovery process). They were commissioned by Australian Red Cross (ARC) to undertake an external evaluation of the ARC Recovery Program that was implemented following a major bushfire in South Australia. Both Stephen and Scott were an absolute pleasure to work with. They have an amazing commitment to truly understanding recovery, a strong sense of social justice and a compassionate manner, enabling them to engage with a variety of stakeholders, many of whom had been personally affected by the disaster. Their evaluation approach ensured all key stakeholders were given numerous opportunities to be involved, and on all occasions they came to the people in their own environment, regularly attending community events to get ground-level feedback.

Upon submission of the evaluation report, findings and recommendations, Stephen and Scott spent time with us to ensure these were communicated to all stakeholders, plus others who would be interested in the work. This process was effortless and the recommendations have been made in a way that has made it simple for us to debrief, learn and make improvements and tweaks in our recovery program.”

Anne Ellis, Recovery Coordinator, Australian Red Cross (South Australia)

Design and evaluation of medical rehabilitation projects

“Stephen Parsons is not the kind of consultant who produces reports by the weight, cutting and pasting from the comfort of a hotel room in a capital city (although I am confident he could do it if required).

Rather, Stephen is someone dedicated to anchoring his evaluation findings in the experience of all key stakeholders, from the grassroot level up, and designing project proposals that combine a long-term strategic vision with practical solutions, while accounting for the power struggles and challenges of complex political and institutional environments.

COPE commissioned Stephen on three occasions over a two-year period, and that in itself is an indication of how satisfied we have been with his work. In 2014, Stephen conducted an end-of-project evaluation for a three-year USAID grant; in 2015 he did a process review of our outreach program; and in 2016 he designed and developed a proposal for a three-year mobile clinic project to provide awareness raising, ongoing support and referral services to physical rehabilitation centers. For the latter, Stephen facilitated a three-day workshop, during which he displayed an amazing ability to sense the rift between stakeholders, defuse tensions and get people to brainstorm together to identify solutions beneficial for all. Stephen went the extra mile by providing us various formats of the project proposal to fit the needs of potential donors.”

Isabelle Bouan, former International Relations and Quality Manager, USAID grant Chief of Party for COPE, Laos

Evaluation of services to migrants in Sudan

“Martina Melis conducted the external evaluation of two consecutive phases of a project focusing on services to migrants in Sudan. Her professionalism, manifested in a systematic and constructive approach to evaluations and an ability to stick to mutually agreed deadlines, makes communication and collaboration with her a highly rewarding experience. She is available and open to listen to the perspectives of all those involved in the project, including staff, beneficiaries and stakeholders, and is able to quickly grasp progress and challenges in implementation. The creative yet practical recommendations provided as a result of both evaluations conducted by Martina have greatly contributed to improving the design, implementation and monitoring of the project.”

Mario Lito Malanca, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration, Sudan

Research, monitoring and evaluation for volunteers program

“Over the past few years, Stephen Parsons has provided a range of high-quality research, monitoring and evaluation services to the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, managed by Scope Global on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In this time, Stephen has produced outstanding outputs, many of which have been converted into real changes to the program management cycle and high-value marketing and communications material. We have always appreciated his keen sense of inquiry, dedication and commitment to thoughtful scholarship, and technical expertise in monitoring and evaluation and strategy development. Working with Stephen has been an absolute pleasure.”

Simona Achitei, Senior Manager, Volunteer Program, Scope Global

Training for criminal justice sector on combatting human trafficking

“I met RCG director Phil Marshall when he took over a project for building capacity within the Sudanese criminal justice system in the areas of human trafficking and people smuggling. In just six months, he took the project from being stalled and on the point of cancellation to exceeding expectations in all areas of the project. Sudan now has a consolidated foundation training curriculum on human trafficking that was developed locally by police, prosecutors and judges, having overcome their initial reluctance to work together.

Further, Phil turned the planned training-of-trainers approach on its head, overseeing a process in which the curriculum was piloted with those who were going to deliver the training, leading to a group of local trainers capable of delivering the training without outside expertise. This in turn created savings that allowed his RCG colleague Ralph Simpson to oversee development of an additional advanced litigation skills curriculum. This work will benefit Sudan for years to come.”

Alan Edwards, governance and migration adviser (United Kingdom)

Leadership of counter-trafficking NGO

“I’ve come to know Ralph over the last few years as we both worked for an NGO focused on human trafficking.

In describing Ralph, it’s hard not to sound OTT (over the top). I’m personally inspired and motivated by, and respect, Ralph’s sacrificial decisions to resign from his law firm, leave New Zealand and pursue causes where he can use his skills to change the world for better.

Ralph is an outstanding leader with a huge intellect and ability to consume information, analyze it and create innovative strategies to solve problems. His drive, passion and energy are infectious. His open, transparent and candid communication helps deliver exceptional results from the teams he works with or manages.

My view is all great companies and organizations which achieve extraordinary results often have a truly great leader at the helm. I know Ralph can and will achieve amazing results for any project and organization he puts his mind to.”

Mike Chisholm, former trust board member of Nvader