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This is us...

TA Consultants United is a foundation with members, formally established in The Netherlands. Members determine the policies of TACU. Because members are spread all over the world, discussions and decision making is mostly done on a virtual basis, via newsletters, polls, Linkedin and e-voting.

The initial founders of TACU are involved in the daily management. They are supported by a by members elected Advisory Board of five members.

TACU can be further characterised as a community based organisation where many members voluntarily participate in the preparation of policies.

The construction of a foundation is chosen to guarantee sustainability in the start-up phase; in two-three years a classic association might be preferable.

  

Management of TA Consultants United

Stephen Dewar and Henry Leerentveld share the responsibilities in managing TA Consultants United jointly.

Henry’s first responsibility is for external relations, including negotiations.

Stephen’s primary field is the internal and external communications and PR, including the newsletters.

Together they share a responsibility in policy and services development.

Expert (legal, IT and translation) services are currently outsourced.  


Management biographies:

Henry Leerentveld (The Netherlands)

Henry started his career in the trade union movement in the Netherlands in 1981. He has worked in the leading trade union, in total for 16 years. Between 1988 and 1997 Henry held a position as national secretary and chaired many negotiation delegations, in collective bargaining processes for up to 300,000 workers. Apart from leading these collective bargaining processes, Henry was also responsible for the management of other collective services (pension funds, social security and insurances) and for the provision of individual members’ services.

An important element of Leerentveld’s footprint was his drive for professionalising trade union services, making them comparable to - and competitive with other service organisations.

In 1997 he changed sides and became chairman of the management board of AOB Netherlands, a Dutch semi-public organisation for career and vocational guidance and employability; he led the process towards privatisation and business orientation. 

Between 1999 and 2006 Henry has worked in interim- and crisis management and strategic consultancy in the Netherlands. His first interim assignment was to chair a collective bargaining process in the Dutch Health Care sector for over 300,000 workers. Many of the other interim and crisis management assignments were related to human resources issues, such as restructuring and redundancies. In the beginning of his international work Leerentveld combined this work with international assignments.

Henry joined the world of international consultancy in 2003. His projects are mostly related to policies related to employment, labour markets, social security, socio-economic structure (social partnership) and related institutional and capacity building. To date he has worked in East and South East Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa in EU, ETF, UNDP, ILO, SDC and GIZ projects. 

Henry’s reason for getting involved in international technical assistance consultancy was based on his view that he had seen most of consultancy, management and interim management on a national level; he considered (and considers) international consultancy of added value to his previous work experience. 

Now, looking back at extensive collective bargaining and interest advocacy experience at all sides of the table (he was also responsible for collective bargaining for government and employers organisations), Henry sees a strong need for professional interest advocacy for consultants in technical assistance: “We were too long without a voice and with poor rights.” 

As for Henry’s private life: two daughters are his majestic life events and sports are a lifetime addiction.

More information about Henry’s background can be found on his website.


Stephen Dewar (Ireland)

Stephen’s first job, in 1970, was as Systems Analyst in the Irish Tourist Board.  During nine years there he held several posts finishing up as Senior Economist, advising the Irish Government on tourism issues and, inter alia, representing Ireland on various tourism committees and the like at the UN, OECD and the then EEC.  In 1978 he was Team Leader for an EDF-financed consultancy project to prepare a “Masterplan for the Development of Zambia’s Tourism Potential”.  Horrified by the poverty and disease he witnessed there, but incredibly professionally and personally satisfied by the work experience, he decided to become a fulltime consultant and joined the then Coopers & Lybrand Associates Management Consultancy Services in Dublin.  For the next five years he tendered for, managed and participated in assignments funded by the World Bank, UNDP, bilateral development aid, foreign governments and private sector clients in Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, as well as Ireland.

Realising that his two young sons hardly ever saw him, he quit consultancy to take up a “day job” near his home in the west of Ireland.  He became Senior Lecturer in Business Policy at the University of Limerick, teaching and researching general and strategic management, international business and business ethics.  During this period (1985 to 1994), he also rented 100 hectares of land and farmed (spring barley and beef fattening), set up and managed an up-market self-catering tourism operation and also did part-time consultancy for Coopers & Lybrand and PriceWaterhouse, as well as on his own account.

During this period he was also head-hunted to be Editor of “Banking Ireland”, the official journal of the Irish Banking Association and was Deputy Editor of “Finance”, a monthly journal on Ireland’s foreign exchange and capital markets plus all aspects of financial services in the wake of the “Big Bang” deregulation of that industry.  Thoroughly enjoying journalism, he left university to become the start-up Editor and Chief Executive of “Breaking the Mould” (Ireland), a fortnightly current affairs magazine, and contributing editor to sister publications in the UK and Asia.  The parent company went bankrupt and all the businesses closed, so Stephen went back to consultancy.

As an independent expert he was TL for five Tacis projects in Kaliningrad (Russia) and Moscow between 1996 and 2010 and Project Manager for two UNDP projects in Macedonia.  Between assignments he worked as a journalist for a Moscow lifestyle magazine, “Passport”, and was a business reporter with “Russia Today”, the Kremlin’s English-language, 24/7 satellite news TV channel (current global audience over 170 million) before being promoted to be the personal strategy adviser to the Chief Executive.  He also had a number of small acting parts in various American, British and Russian films and TV series.  He has been a visiting lecturer at Moscow State University and the Immanuel Kant University, Kaliningrad.

He has written and contributed to numerous books and had a large number of papers published by research institutes and other publishing outlets in Russia and many European countries.  These have mainly dealt with international relations, especially between the EU and Russia. He is over half way through his second novel, a satirical look at, yes, the technical assistance industry, set in a fictional Balkan country.

For much of the time that he worked as an independent expert he felt he was cheated, lied to, frequently insulted (by corrupt beneficiaries)  and generally taken advantage of.  He always swore that if ever he had the time (and money!) he would try to set up some kind of association to protect people from these abuses.  Well, here we are!