By Syed Aman Ali (Pakistan)
If you are in the evaluation profession, then there are a lot of conferences that are happening throughout the year which brings evaluation commissioner, practitioners and experts and academicians from different parts of the world for exchange of ideas, experiences and knowledge. These conferences are an amazing podium for emerging and mid-career professionals to learn, exchange, interact among themselves and with the top-notch evaluation experts from academia and development world. The European Evaluation Society (EES) is the largest evaluation association of Europe. Recently there held 13th EES Biennial conference in historical city of Thessaloniki, Greece which attracted more than seven hundred Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and development experts across the globe.
Representing my country in EES conference was a privilege, first time in Europe, the whole week was outstanding to interact, explore and nurture ideas. This was a brilliant opportunity for an evaluator from global south to showcase his evaluation talent and build upon it for future. It gave me flare of having different perspectives, and I enjoyed and learnt a lot. It built in me an immense confidence and gave me a token that I can achieve any milestone at the universal level. Being member of my national Voluntary Organization Promoting Evaluation (VOPE), Pakistan Evaluation Association (PEA), it was a great opportunity to build my capacity with formal interactions and communication with board members from leading VOPEs like EES, AEA etc. The professional acumen, experience and suggestions from them, if taken up well, can take any VOPE to new heights. This exchange was fantastic.
There were discussions that how evaluation world looks like in future. The development world is getting complex and complicated, and there’s always push on M&E experts from the supply side for measuring results accurately, and to ensure efficient and prudent utilization of funds. This introduced new concepts or jargon that now will be shaping the future of evaluations, some are; systems thinking, design thinking. In this complex era with rapidly changing context, technology, system and design thinking may give a clarity in program design and evaluations. System and design thinking also give indigenous logical linkages inbuilt in a system or program.
One of the most exciting experiences of my life, I would say I had in Greece was surprisingly not the formal interaction. It was a discussion on a table with a group of young Africans enjoying beer and drinks. The discussion on the table was about how a person could become one of the world’s top leading Evaluation expert. Are there some groups who are privileged, and they had more opportunities? What are the traits and habits of those who write and publish in world’s renowned evaluation and other journals? This wonderful discussion literally brought amazing perspective for us and I came at a conclusion that no matter what country, ethnicity, religion or nationality you have, if you put in efforts and you’ve the passion to contribute in body of knowledge in evaluation, you will reach at the top. There’s no excuse for not doing stuff by yourself and putting the blame of your non-achievement on others. It really was a mind-blowing discussion which brings diverse perspectives on leadership and emergence.
Meeting some of the talented, brilliant and shining novice professionals who were called upon as Young & Emerging Evaluators (YEE) from different countries of Europe was another hope. The amount of energy, enthusiasm and passion they brought to the EES conference can be seen with their active participation and involvement. YEE is a great initiative by EES board to give opportunity to the emerging leader/evaluator (s) as the future belongs to them. Surely, among them will be those who will shape and take lead in setting new courses and paradigms in evaluations. Evaluation world has a bright future!