Interview with David Young

Linking business and humanitarian actors to spark innovation

“It makes total sense to connect the private sector with humanitarians in preparing for and responding to crises” David Young, a Senior Partner at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and former COO at World Vision International, says. “Having humanitarians, the business community, and governments work together has always been the dream.”

BCG also recognizes the power of capital and the ability of private sector corporations to develop and distribute new innovative solutions. “We believe the private sector has so much more to contribute, not just the dollars they may have within a foundation or as a corporate giving program”, Young continued. “In many ways I am more optimistic about finding solutions to development challenges and certainly more convinced about our capacity to respond to humanitarian crises than ever before.”

Business case


BCG signed onto the Connecting Business initiative (CBi) that was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. The organization also serves on the CBi Executive Committee, providing strategic guidance to the initiative.

As part of this commitment, BCG recently developed a tool to enable CBi Member Networks to assess their performance and identify areas for improvement. “One of the things that we’ve done as a strategist has been to look at what it takes to launch a great network and detail what it takes for a network to perform at higher levels”, Young explains. Highlighting accountability and metrics as critical elements for success, he notes that self-assessment provides insights and incentives for innovation and continuous improvement.

The assessment tool also leverages knowledge-sharing and peer-to-peer learning - key elements of the Connecting Business initiative overall. “The benefits are sometimes unpredictable”, Young points out, explaining that the first step towards innovation is to bring people, especially private sector representatives, together to discuss how they can work with governments and civil society to make a difference. “I think we are going to see a lot of innovation as a country like the Philippines shares its learnings with Madagascar, together they work with Mexico and even offer US examples of resilience to the private sector. This is where I think there is real opportunity for these unpredictable outcomes that translate into a healthier and safer future for companies, their employees and economic systems that they are part of.”




Dave Young, Senior Partner and Managing Director, Social Impact, The Boston Consulting Group

Dave Young focuses on increasing the social impact of corporations, capital, governments, and social sector institutions. Dave works with his colleagues and clients to strengthen their organizations and identify where disruptive business models, technology, data/analytics and financing can change the trajectory of social and humanitarian outcomes.

Dave left BCG in 2005 and joined World Vision International.  As global COO he oversaw its world-wide operations in community development, emergency response, microfinance, and technical support functions. The organization involved 41,000 employees across more than 70 nations making meaningful contributions to the well-being of more than 150 million of the world's most vulnerable children. Dave returned to BCG in 2016 as a Senior Partner in the Social Impact and Public Sector Practices.


This interview was conducted by Sarah Jackson-Han, UNDP Communications, Partnerships, & Policy Adviser, UNDP Washington Representation Office