The Russo-Ukrainian War: How Energy Insecurity Fuels the Global Gender Imbalance

by Dr. Grace Hoffman

 

Since the onset of the Russo-Ukrainian War in February 2022, countries have felt ripple effects caused by their dependence on Russian oil. Europe has been particularly impacted by their dependence on Russian energy, and is consequently, rethinking its reliance on certain energy sources. The significance of the energy sector and the need for alternative sources has become increasingly apparent for Europe’s economy. However, the overreliance on Russian oil may also affect gender inequality and non-European countries’ peace and security for years to come.

Women, Peace, and Security

In 2000, the United Nations adopted Security Resolution 1325, which established the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) international agenda. In 2017, the WPS Act codified the agenda into U.S. law. WPS recognizes the disproportionate effect of conflict and violence on women and girls as well as the important role women play in peace and security. Research shows a direct connection between the treatment and empowerment of women and girls at the household level and a country’s stability and likelihood to enter conflict. In fact, high sex inequality makes a nation twice as likely to be a fragile state, 3.5 times more likely to have an autocratic and corrupt government, 1.5 times more likely to be unstable and violent, and 1.3 times more likely to experience terrorism.[1] Simply put, the treatment and role of women and girls in society directly correlates with a country’s long-term peace and security.

Inseparable Connections

Today, the treatment of women and girls at the household level may be directly impacted by increasing gas prices and food shortages caused by the reliance on Russian energy. In African countries such as Somalia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gas prices have greatly increased, as have food prices where communities rely on trucks to deliver food. Maureen Miruka, the CARE Kenya Country Director, noted that Kenyan women will be greatly affected, noting that “Whenever incomes in homes are negatively impacted, we have always noted an increase in gender-based violence against women.”.[2]

What Might the Future Hold?

WPS acknowledges that violence against women impacts the long-term stability of the communities and countries. It destabilizes communities and limits women’s ability to meaningfully participate in society. What will this mean for countries where violence against women increases as gas prices and food shortages increase?

Overdependence on energy from Russia is a sharp reminder of the need for innovation in the energy sector and for alternative and diverse energy sources, and the need for this may reach far beyond Europe’s economic concerns. While continents and countries recognize direct immediate effects, the possible long-term and indirect effects of energy insecurity on women and girls and therefore peace and security cannot be overlooked.

[1] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1a02/327babfb20be0982b5154e40c0ca5695cb3b.pdf
[2] https://www.care-international.org/news/ukraine-conflict-soaring-food-and-fuel-prices-threaten-wellbeing-millions-east-central-and

 

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Country Intelligence Report: Inside The Country Intelligence Group

In this special episode we speak with Jeffrey Fourman, the Founder and Managing Director of The Country Intelligence Group. We discuss the origins of the firm, the company’s values and mission, and how CountryIntel leverages it’s unique collection of specialized management consulting, data analysis, and human capital service expertise to help the worlds most complex organizations achieve and surpass their goals.

 

The Country Intelligence Report

The Country Intelligence Report is a bi-monthly examination of the stories impacting the world of management consulting and International relations. We cover a range of topics than cover the intersection of Management Consulting and International Relations. We discuss such topics such as how to establish and accomplish goals, habits of effective leadership, Energy industry dynamics, and the diplomatic discipline of women, peace, and security.

The show is hosted by Krista Campbell, Senior Workforce Development Consultant and Spencer Bentley, Director of Marketing and Communication. It is produced by Jonathan Maze, Senior Management Consultant, Krista Campbell and Spencer Bentley. More episodes of the show can be found here

10 STEPS TO HELP YOU TRANSFORM INTO AN EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT CONSULTANT

By Leezan Omerbell

 

Government consulting is a big industry. Luckily for you, the industry is not as mysterious as some make it out to be. In fact, it is a profession with very clear expectations and requirements. Most of these expectations are based on common sense that are also shared across other industries. The requirements are tied to your contract’s scope of work, which requires no guessing. However, I would like to point out that there are a lot of consultants providing almost the exact same service as you are planning to provide. In other words, there are thousands of “you.” So, how do you distinguish yourself from the rest? Through lessons learned at Country Intelligence Group, we have compiled a list of the most important things to practice and keep in mind when providing service to your government client:

  1. Understand your client’s organization: Study and understand your client’s organization by researching where their organization falls within the government framework. For example, the Department of Defense is large and contains not only the Military Services but also the Combatant, Geographical, and Functional Commands, as well as the 4th Estates. So, if your client is a DoD “agency,” it falls under the 4th Estates. In addition, research the organization’s mission and how they relate to other DoD and non-DoD entities.
  2. Know the Stakeholders: Knowing the stakeholders is crucial to being a consultant. Pay attention to who the stakeholders are, both internally and externally. Do your due diligence and conduct a stakeholder analysis to understand each stakeholder’s interest, influence, and future participation in your client’s program or project.
  3. Pay attention to the internal culture: This one sound obvious but can be easily overlooked. Pay attention to the internal culture of your client’s organization. This will help you navigate any vague or sensitive situations you might encounter.
  4. Study the rank and grades: If you don’t come from a military background, it would be beneficial for you to study military ranks that are applicable to your client’s organization and stakeholders. It would also be beneficial to learn civilian grades and their military equivalent.
  5. Identify the decision makers: Your client is going to depend on you to help strategize and communicate level of efforts with individuals throughout the organization and across the stakeholder domain. For this purpose, you need to be able to map out and identify decision makers within the crowd. This is where you can help your client make impactful engagements.
  6. Remember, we only “recommend”: This one can be difficult for many to understand. Your job as a consultant is to recommend solutions and options to your client. That is it.
  7. Listen: I am sure you have heard this multiple times, but it really is an overlooked interpersonal skill. If you want to understand your client and their pain points, really listen to what they are saying and even to what they are not saying.
  8. Always follow up: When turning in a product or providing a recommendation, always follow up with your client. Ask questions to figure what whether the product met their expectations or if they have any feedback for you. Did your recommendation cover the pain point or was there an angle you missed? Take this feedback, implement the changes (if any), and re-engage.
  9. You are not part of the staff: Remember, you are not part of the extended staff. You are a hired consultant.
  10. Remain Professional: Always, always, always, remain professional. You are not part of the staff and should not take part in office gossip. This will be hard if staff members come to you and begin such a conversation. But just because they do, does not mean you should contribute to an unprofessional gossip session.

Your value to your client is that you are a consultant with a wide range of expertise to provide. Wear your badge of honor with pride and take lead in the government consulting world!

 

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WHAT DOES A DATA DICTIONARY AND A REFUGEE CAMP HAVE IN COMMON?

By Leezan Omerbell

 

In my last life as a foreign affair professional, I worked as a field volunteer for Un Ponte Per, a non-governmental organization under the United Nations, at the Domiz Refugee Camp in the Kurdish Province of Dohuk, Iraq. As a volunteer, I used my language skills to collect data to help manage and allocate resources. A few days after arriving, I was in one of the trailers looking over my notes when a man entered the trailer. The man was about my age and wanted to know if his grandmother could come inside and sit on one of the empty chairs while waiting to be processed. Without hesitation, I agreed. A few minutes later a young woman entered with him and sat on one of the chairs. When I questioned him about the whereabouts of his grandmother, he simply pointed to the young woman.

As it turned out, the woman was not his grandmother, but his wife. You see, I had failed to take into consideration that even though I spoke the regional languages, there can be variances in vocabulary depending on location and dialect. Although the man thought he was communicating effectively, and I thought I was receiving the information correctly, there was still a disconnect.  To me the word he had used meant someone old, such as a grandmother. But in his dialect, it meant “wife.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged.” This process is the foundation of all relationships, personal and professional. But what we often forget, is that machines too need to communicate and exchange information with one another as an integral part of modern life and business. Broken down to their simplest level, machines such as database systems communicate with one another continuously and need to so do to remain relevant.

But how do we prevent miscommunication between these machines? If humans can have such misunderstandings, like the one that took place between that young man and myself, then machines can most certainly experience miscommunication too. As a solution, data dictionaries for database systems were created to enable clear and correct exchanges of information. For your own systems, before accurate exchanges can take place, you should do your due diligence, and do some database dictionary “house cleaning.”

  1. Update your data dictionary: Update your data dictionary to reflect your database as it changes. Databases change…a lot. Columns and fields become irrelevant; some are taken out while new ones are added. So, before you begin exchanging data with another database, make sure your own data dictionary is up to date.
  2. Make your data dictionary readable: This isn’t corporate law where you must write policy in a language no one can read. The point of your data dictionary is so that others can clearly understand what your database is about. If others can’t read it or understand it, then you have failed to create a working data dictionary. Make your data dictionary simple and easily readable.
  3. Answer questions: This might sound like common sense, but if an individual who is working with your data dictionary has a question, answer it. And set up time to provide clarifications. Learn from these instances and update your dictionary accordingly to prevent similar questions in future.

Again, the whole purpose of your data dictionary is so your database can communicate with another system. This allows everyone involved, machines included, to get on the same page. If it fails to accomplish this, your data dictionary needs work. Small improvements to your data dictionary can yield huge benefits for your database.

 

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LEADERSHIP VS. MANAGEMENT IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

by Chelsea Salyer

 

A major focus of workforce development, a service offered by CountryIntel, is helping an individual develop the skills and abilities required to succeed within their workplace. Some of those skills and abilities may relate to leadership and/or management.

People often mistake leadership and management to be one and the same, but fundamentally they are very different. Yet both practices are essential to running a business. Certain business scenarios require diverse skills. Distinguishing between leadership and management can help a business efficiently employ its resources to achieve success.

Leadership is about inspiring, motivating, and empowering others to work toward a shared vision, while management is concerned with administrative responsibilities and ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly.

One of the main differences between leadership and management is seen when executing the business’ vision. Leadership is more strategic while management is more operational. Leaders examine where the business stands, set a vision for future organizational growth, and develop a strategic plan for how to move from the present to the future. Leaders, by nature, are innovative. Alternatively, managers implement processes and procedures that help the business achieve the objectives set by the leaders. Simply put, leaders ask “what” and “why” whereas managers ask “how” and “when.”

Another difference between leadership and management lies within how they either inspire or manage their followers and subordinates. Leaders inspire trust among employees and rely on that relationship to build a following. When communicating the vision, leaders are responsible for helping employees see themselves within the bigger organizational picture. They connect an employee’s goals and aspirations with the company’s vision, giving meaning to the day-to-day functions while aligning short-term and long-term direction.

Separately, managers rely on the authority of their job description to effectively manage employees and maintain compliance. Managers coordinate activities among subordinates and organize staff to optimize efficiency and play to the strengths of each individual. Managers break down big projects into smaller milestones and assign tasks according to resource limitations such as schedule and budget. They are more focused on the tactical responsibilities required to meet the organization’s objectives.

Despite the differences between leadership and management, the two practices often organically intertwine within a business structure. Both leadership and management structures are needed to engage a workforce toward a shared vision and achieve organizational success. While it is crucial to understand their differences, it would be unwise to purposefully try to separate one from the other. Rather, the focus should be on how these two practices will coincide and how to harness their differences to complement one another. Together, leadership and management help bridge the gaps in scenarios where reliance on one skill alone might fall short. Developing a workforce with both leadership and management functions is crucial to the overarching success of the business. Even more critical is developing skills uniquely tailored to each individual employee’s role.

 

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MY VIRTUAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE

by Lillian Dickman

 

Growing up, I was a typical student in a traditional learning environment. I sat at a desk in a physical school building, learning from a teacher in a classroom full of other students. This was my norm until my third year of college in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic turned the educational world upside down. The sudden shift from traditional schooling to a virtual environment posed a learning curve for many students, including myself. Amidst the chaos, I adapted and found positivity in this new world of eLearning. As a recent college graduate, here are my lessons learned and key takeaways from the virtual learning experience:

Easily Connect with Others: With eLearning, we connected with course instructors and students without physically meeting. Courses were able to be conducted through virtual meetings where it did not matter where people were located. This made it easier for students to be able to meet with others to get work done from the comfort of home. We could also reach instructors through online chatting at any time rather than scheduling time to visit in-person during specific office hours. Although virtual environments will never quite replace in-person experiences, I learned that it is possible to still connect when physically distant.

Learn Self-Paced: Online courses can be self-paced, and they are designed to be more flexible with your time. In the traditional classroom setting, all students must try to work and follow along at the same pace. Because everyone has different learning styles and schedules, eLearning accommodates for all these variances. Students can either fly through lessons or take more time to digest it. I was an involved and active student on campus, so it was helpful to have the flexibility to progress in certain online classes on my own time. Instead of needing to run across campus to make it to class, I could review class content, re-watch lectures, and complete coursework when I was ready to. Although I had never been able to take courses on my own time prior to COVID-19, the self-paced learning was beneficial because I was able to tailor my course completion timeline to my learning style as well as gain a sense of independence in my education.

Embrace Change: If 2020 taught us anything, it was to be adaptable. While everything was shutting down, we became more open to change around us. After being suddenly sent home from school in the spring of 2020, spending my last year of college constantly battling a pandemic was not how I expected my college years to end. It was a rollercoaster of change or, as many have described it, “unprecedented times,” with no way of knowing what the future held. Despite this, I am grateful that modern technology was still able to bring some normalcy to the world. Universities and schools began offering eLearning services to be able to continue to provide an education to students. Students then embraced this new way of learning as a way of bringing a little consistency back into our lives. Although there was an adjustment period of learning the ins and outs of how remote courses operated, I was able to find positivity and embrace change.

Prepare for Remote Work Environment: Not only were schools pushed to virtual environments, but workplaces were as well. Employees also had to go through the same learning curve with working a job from home. Instead of having people visit your desk to speak with you, coworkers ping you in Microsoft Teams Chat. Rather than sitting in a big conference room for a meeting, you sit on a Zoom call while someone shares their screen for a presentation. COVID-era students were able to prepare for this new way of working by learning the technology and software used to support remote environments while in school. As a student during the pandemic, I regularly used Zoom and Microsoft Teams as my main resources for connecting with teachers and classmates. Young professionals and recent graduates have the upper hand in having the best understanding of these online tools compared to older employees who did not have the same opportunity to study in these virtual spaces while in school. Learning things as simple as how to create and join virtual meetings or knowing how to turn the mute button on and off are things that seem intuitive but still require some training.

Since graduating from college in 2021, I have started my career in a remote environment that still heavily relies on these technologies. I am thankful I had a solid foundation of how to use these tools prior to starting my full-time position. Learning how to efficiently work from home is a skillset that has taught me the significance of both independence and time management. Overall, my biggest takeaway is that technology is an incredibly powerful and crucial tool for not only the academic world but also the corporate world.

CountryIntel Online Distance Learning Solutions: Country Intelligence Group has specific expertise in remote learning services. From curriculum design and development, eLearning, training delivery in all modes, and training/education program management, our team can craft the perfect solution for your needs. CountryIntel can help your organization easily connect with others through eLearning platforms, regardless of physical distance. I have learned through my experience with remote education that no matter how course content is delivered, students are still able to be trained and educated at the same level of excellence. Embrace the changes in today’s cutting-edge course delivery and partner with Country Intelligence Group for optimal results.

 

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