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Date: 2024-04-15 Page is: DBtxt003.php L0300-Socio-Economic-Development

Socio-Economic Development
Weak metrics ... and accordingly not a major priority

Socio-Economic Development
I was always interested in 'development' ... that is 'economic development' ... since my university days. In fact it was the driver behind my choice of economics as a major after completing my undergraduate degree in engineering (more specifically Mechanical Sciences). The choice I had to make was between more specialization in engineering that would deepen my knowledge, or something that would broaden my outlook. At the time there were very few business schools, and none in the UK, which might have been an option perhaps 20 years later, so I chose to study economics.

When I left Cambridge in 1961 I had completed both an engineering undergraduate degree and an undergraduate economics degree ... rather like what might be called a double major in more recent parlance. Economics gave me a foundation to start to understand how the world worked, just as engineering gave me some background to understand how technical things work, whether it was in the field of civil engineering, or electrical engineering, or aeronautical engineering or thermodynamics or electronics. Later I trained as a Chartered Accountant and qualified in 1965, by which time I was well qualified to engage in the field of business and economic development and work to improve profit performance in the corporate world.

A few years later I was working as a corporate CFO based in the USA. Our company ... Continental Seafoods Inc ... operated in more than 26 different jurisdications around the world. In the 1970s we built a factory and fishing port facilities in Nigeria at a time when Nigeria was getting huge benefit as a result of OPEC and the internation 'oil shock'. Nigeria was in the middle of an oil bonanza, but on a visit to our lawyer's offices in perhaps the most prestigious office block in Lagos, I had to pass two dead children on the steps of the building. This was a huge shock ... and I realized for the first time in my life that economic wealth does not automatically translate into a better life for people ... especially the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP).

In short order I added 'socio' to 'economic' in my thinking about development ... indeed my thinking about everything. That was 1974.

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