I have been working at Conservation International (More than 8 years)
-Mission: protecting nature for human wellbeing will get you up every morning, or it ought to
-Colleagues: extraordinarily committed, hard-working, knowledgeable, skilled, fun folks from across the globe. Vestiges of the tight-knit "family" that CI was in the 90s and early 00s still exist.
-Network: On the best days you're part of a 1000-person team protecting nature in 20-30 countries, in government offices, corporate boardrooms, international negotiations, academic conferences, rivers, reefs, and rainforests. Their work is your work; their victories are your victories.
-Institutional identity crisis: the organization grew large on the strength of a single donor and a clear approach: identify the world's most biodiverse places, and protect them by supporting national protected areas. When the original donor funding was running out, CI broadened its mission from biodiversity to human wellbeing, and broadened its approach from protected areas to other mechanisms. In a perfect world this move would have appealed to a broader donor base. But unfortunately this mission change happened around the same time the financial crisis hit, when everyone's wallets were snapping shut. The practical effect is that a lot of world-class scientific expertise on the old topics was let go/left, without much growth in new directions. Ever since then the organization has struggled to find its identity.
-Travel: one day you're flying sky high to a workshop in Ecuador (Pro), the next day you've burned out because you're flying to.....yet another workshop in Ecuador (Con). Not the case for everyone--some people travel internationally constantly; some never get to.
-Management: hit-or-miss. Many promotions appear to be based more on ability to charm the CEO than competence.
Advice to Management
-It's long past time for the Chair of the Board to hang up his spurs as CEO (yes, one man holds both positions). His fundraising prowess is top-notch, but he checked out from the day-to-day life of the organization a decade ago and the organization has been suffering for this ever since. There are rumors this may finally happen but I'll believe it when I see it.
I applied online. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Conservation International (Arlington, VA) in November 2016.
Really great conversation about the organization and the job specifically. I did not get the job but felt that the committee was very respectful and took me very seriously. I enjoyed it immensely.
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