Starting his working life as a diamond prospector for De Beers Mining Company, Gavin has had a rich variety of work experiences. Whilst studying for his BSc degree Gavin was also a guitar teacher and a quantity surveyor’s clerk and became involved in re-starting the black South African trade union movement before being banned by the Apartheid Government in 1976. Forced to find new ways to earn a living he grew vegetables, then learnt carpentry and helped create two successful woodwork factories. This initiated a period of passionate involvement in enterprise creation and civic initiatives. Gavin was founder and co-ordinator of CORDE, an organisation working with community enterprises throughout Botswana and later led a management consultancy, working across southern Africa and in the Caribbean. On return to South Africa with the inception of democracy he led a development advocacy organization, and then formed a southern African leadership network.
Gavin is co-creator of Kwanda, a reality TV show on community transformation that has rekindled interest in community organization across the country. He was one of the pioneers of the Community Work Programme, which now provides regular and predictable work opportunities to over two hundred thousand people across South Africa. Midway through 2009 he co-founded the Seriti Institute www.seriti.org.za, which strengthens community organization for social health and economic development.
Gavin worked in the field of Business Social Responsibility for a number of years and was a founder and member of Council of AccountAbility, and later helped create the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship. He led the Social Impact Assessments on BP operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, and was peer assessor for the Tanzanian SIA exercise. He is a member of the Integrated Reporting Committee chaired by Judge Mervyn King.
Gavin has played a prominent role in strengthening civil society across southern Africa. He served on the Board of the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law for 6 years and is currently a member of its Council, and was elected to the Council of both the Botswana and South African NGO Coalitions. He was editor of a regional magazine, and a founder and chairman of the board of the Mmegi Publishing Trust, which started what has become Botswana’s largest newspaper. Gavin has worked in the field of leadership development for over twenty years, was a member of faculty of the United Nations University Leadership Academy and is a member of Synergos’ panel on Bridging Leadership. He is a distinguished fellow of the Chair in Development Education housed at the University of South Africa (UNISA), is a senior research associate of the Chair for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg, and lectures on the Executive MBA programme at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
Gavin holds a PhD in Development Studies from The Open University in the United Kingdom.