Position title: Technical Director/Capacity Strengthening Technical Coordinator (way too much and doesn’t really capture what I do).
Languages spoken: French (not great, but workable), Spanish (pretty weak, but I have worked in Spanish speaking countries), a smattering of Russian (when I worked in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Armenia), and a few words of Bahasa Indonesia, plus enough to order a beer in most other places.
Favorite DHS cover: 2008-09 Albania DHS – it is based on a photograph I took of a piece of cloth with a very stylized version of the Albanian double-headed eagle that is seen on their national flag.
What has been the biggest change in The DHS Program during your time here? There are many, many changes but two of the biggest have been firstly the change in questionnaire content from a relatively small family planning focused survey in the 1980s to the much bigger and more extensive health content that we see today; and secondly the changes that computing and the internet have brought, going from computers with only floppy drives for data entry of paper questionnaires to the use of tablet computers, data capture in the field, and the rapid transfer of data, but with the ever increasing complexity of the data collection and processing systems.
What work are you most proud of? Several things come to mind – in the early days the creation of standard tools and conventions for the processing of surveys that are still in effect (and effective) today, the widespread distribution of datasets through the internet, the development of CSPro with colleagues at the US Bureau of the Census, and the development of STATcompiler back in 1999 and its further development in more recent years.
What’s your favorite trip to date? There have been several memorable trips including fascinating trips to Zimbabwe, Nepal, and Indonesia. A visit to Zimbabwe for the 1988 DHS particularly comes to mind and combined a successful work trip with my first visit to Victoria Falls – probably my favorite place to visit anywhere in the world.
Is there a country that you would like to visit that you haven’t been to? I’ve worked in over 65 countries, but there are still many that I would like to visit. I’ve still yet to work in Tanzania or Uganda. There are also several Asian countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. I also want to visit Australia and New Zealand one day – purely for vacation.
Is there anything else you’re looking forward to? There continue to be changes at The DHS Program in how we conduct surveys, how data needs and interests change over time, and I’m interested to see how things will change in the next decade. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have brought a bigger emphasis in the use of high-quality data, and I’m expecting that to be more so with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I’ve seen great improvements globally over the course of my career, and I’m looking forward to seeing greater improvements in the coming years.