Meet the team #3 – João Paulo Cavalcante

In Plan Eval’s “meet the team” series, we invite you to get to know more about the incredible people who make up our dynamic team.

Our third guest is João Paulo Cavalcante. João holds a degree in International Relations from the FACAMP in Brazil and a master’s degree in International Development from the Université Grenoble-Alpes in France. He has worked for 5 years in the World Food Program (WFP), ultimately gaining experience in south-south and trilateral cooperation, policy advocacy, and capability building to support governments and local actors in adopting initiatives to fight poverty, malnutrition, and improve governance in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. 

He joined Plan Eval in 2022 as a Project Manager and shares his insights into his  experience at Plan Eval in this brief interview.

  1. How did you start working at Plan Eval?

Coming to work at Plan was a natural progression in my career. My background is in international relations and development cooperation and, since completing my master’s degree in 2012, I have been working in the management of different projects related to development cooperation. I came to work at Plan when I saw an open position for the project management position, which I applied for and was selected. Working with development project management is something that interests me a lot because I can combine project management, which is perennial with projects in both the public and private sectors, and I can also align with the focus on international development.

João supporting a school feeding project in Guine Bissau

Especially at Plan, we have a very specific focus on Monitoring and Evaluation, mainly evaluation, which allows us to look at projects after they have been implemented, which is very interesting. Also being able to manage projects of different themes (environment with UNEP, technological security with the US Department of State, COVID in Mozambique) for different clients and regions is also very interesting.

  1. What is it like to be a Project Manager at Plan Eval?

The big difference I see at Plan is that we have a niche, a specific focus. Other consultancies have a wider scope of work and have different types of services, whereas we are specialised in monitoring and evaluation.

On a day-to-day basis, interaction between Plan employees is also very important and positive. We all know each other and have a very direct openness, so problem solving, troubleshooting  and support becomes much more efficient. In a way, this even facilitates project management: if I need something, I can contact the person directly. This improves the relationship between the internal and external team, as problems are resolved more quickly and efficiently.

  1. What was your first project at Plan Eval? What project do you consider to be the most meaningful to you?

My first projects at Plan had already started, but I also took on some projects from the beginning. The nutrition project in Madagascar, for example, had already started when I started to manage the project. This project was very challenging, not because of the project itself, but more because of the context in which the country is inserted and its geographical extension, in addition to involving both local and international consultants. Another very interesting project was the project in partnership with Dev Tech on technological security for the US State Department, in which we participated in a consortium and did not have access to the end customer.

Playing football by the beach in Senegal

Amongst the projects that I participated in since its early phases, the Red Cross project was remarkable, as it was linked to the development of activities and the autonomy of certain communities to deal with challenges related to diseases, an extremely interesting topic. There was a lot of flexibility and openness on the part of the client to define the products, which also brought challenges and opportunities for the team.

Another outstanding project was UNICEF Uruguay on digital education. The topic was very interesting and the evaluation team, as well as the UNICEF and Ceibal team (implementation partners), were proactive, engaged and open to suggestions, which greatly facilitated the management of the project itself. It was a project that generated good results and the client was very satisfied in the end.

Finally, the COVID-19 project in Mozambique was very remarkable. It was a cash-transfer program implemented by WFP and UNICEF that had a positive impact on the well-being of society due to the transfer of income. Evaluating such a project was extremely interesting both for its theme (cash transfers) and also for the moment in which the project took place, in the middle of a pandemic.

  1. What do you consider to be the best part of working at Plan Eval?

In addition to the collaborative environment, the quality management system and the company’s own organisation are, without a doubt, one of its strengths. All documents are organised, we have a standard for information and project management. This makes our job a lot easier.

  1. Finally, what are your expectations of the future?

Having an office in Brazil is a great starting point for other projects in Latin America and given that we are a small organisation based in Brussels and that has already carried out large projects makes me optimistic that we will expand our projects to more and more countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. With the support of our internal quality system and our experiences, I am sure that we will continue to expand.

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