Up and Coming: Doug Harper of Engineers Without Borders UK

Harper joined the development organisation as chief executive in August 2014, aged 33

Doug Harper
Doug Harper

How does your military background help you as a young leader? Being in the Royal Engineers for nine years taught me great organisational skills, and I gained lots of management experience early on. But people in the third sector often have a negative perception of the military, focusing on its war-fighting role rather than its humanitarian work. This perception can be difficult to overcome.

What inspired you to work in international development? I am motivated by a desire to help those less fortunate than me and to address social and economic disparity. Changing the world is an unrealistic expectation, but if everyone made a small contribution, the result would be spectacular.

Do you regard your age as an advantage in your role? Our work is reliant on many young volunteers. Someone older might struggle to engage with them, but age is not an overriding factor.

What advice do you have for aspiring young leaders? You need to make decisions and stick by them. And don't micromanage your team – tell them what you want done but not how you want them to do it.

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