At the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) we have 18 thematic clusters including Crisis Management. Crisis Management is crucial to all organisations and companies. Dive in deeper with our one of the experts, Dr Alistair Cook, who will be co-leading our upcoming executive education course in Singapore on ‘Crisis Management: Navigating the Storm’ in partnership with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).
Name: Alistair D. B. Cook
Employer: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Education: PhD (Melbourne), MA (Purdue), MA (Hons) (St Andrews).
Current Job Title: Coordinator, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme and Research Fellow, NTS Centre
Fun Fact: I was an extra (US Army Officer) on the mini-series ‘The Pacific’ produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman.
GCSP: What got you into this field?
I studied International Relations for my undergraduate degree and was mentored by Professors Oliver Richmond and Paul Wilkinson. Their insights encouraged me to pursue my interest in conflict management, and ultimately humanitarian action.
GCSP: What is your current role?
I coordinate the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. We focus on cooperation and strategy in the Asia-Pacific on emergency preparedness, response and transition to recovery.
GCSP: Tell us more about the courses you run?
I teach senior level leaders on executive training courses on humanitarian assistance and disaster management. I also teach a masters course on ‘Governance and Security in Myanmar’.
GCSP: How do you see your field shaping the future?
The Asia-Pacific, particularly ASEAN aims to be a global leader in humanitarian assistance and disaster management by 2025. Our contributions as a think tank and graduate school will contribute to this development through knowledge partnership and thought leadership.
GCSP: What have you learnt from the participants in your courses? What is your biggest takeaway?
The importance of inter-personal relationships developed over the long term through networking in ‘normal’ times will sink or swim a humanitarian response. As Pak Said Faisal, former Executive Director of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance in disaster management (AHA Centre) said recently ‘vision without implementation is a hallucination’. If you don’t connect the people to implement your vision then it remains just a piece of paper, and developing inter-personal relationships is key to successful implementation.
GCSP: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
An old Welsh proverb: "A fo ben, bid bont" which roughly translates to "If you want to be a leader, be a bridge."
GCSP: What’s the next challenge for your topic?
Moving crisis management and humanitarian response towards a whole-of-society approach.
GCSP: What should readers stay tuned for in your field?
Consolidating and deepening partnerships between regional mechanisms and dialogue partners.
GCSP: Why are you passionate about this subject? Why does it make a difference for you personally or professionally?
Misunderstanding and misinterpretation are easy but facilitating understanding and accurate interpretation is a challenge. It’s a challenge that I can contribute to in a tangible way through research. The Asia-Pacific is a region with a wealth of talent and skill but activating them into a cohesive network producing tangible results is a work-in-progress. This is achievable if we put our minds to it by learning from past experiences to inform new and creative ways forward.