Interview with Tomas Jensen, who will lead our portfolio of Social and Behavior Change Communication projects
How does joining RBC fit into your life plan?
Joining RBC is a great fit for me and where I am in my life and career. I want to be home-based (Cairns, Australia) because I have a daughter, and I want to keep working internationally with social and behavior change communication for social justice and for sustainable development. Joining RBC gives me the opportunity to forge a great work-life balance and to work with some of the most talented and committed people around. It offers me the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and to share my knowledge and experience with a great community of practitioners.
What past experiences in life and work do you bring to the table?
I am a creative person who started out in media and music production. I then studied communication and development while gradually merging my creative skills with social and behavior change communication initiatives. I have done this for the past two decades while being based in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Fiji. These countries are beautiful and wonderful, and they also present some of the toughest challenges in terms of diversity, reach and application of contemporary communication methodology and tools. This has given me a thorough understanding of local communication challenges in complex settings, and of the pros and cons of linking these to international development frameworks. It has also forced me to be more innovative, agile and realistic, I think, about what it takes to facilitate meaningful and effective communication for social and behavioral change.
What are you passionate about and what do you want to accomplish?
Some of my earliest memories of growing up in my native Denmark involved interacting with people passionate about life, humanity and the well-being of our planet. This is in my DNA, which is why I identify with RBC’s mission to achieve social justice, and I want to ensure that we work with this in harmony with nature. Climate change is for me the single most important challenge to planetary survival and human progress – so it must be the ultimate focus or context of our work. We need to collaborate across all sectors to introduce better social norms and practices aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, we need to promote caregiver practices and curricula that lift people out of poverty in harmony with nature – not at the expense of it. Changing social norms means caring both for people and the environment. I am passionate about this from a moral perspective, but also a selfish one. After all, if we don’t manage to change, and quickly, my daughter’s future is uncertain and bleak. Let us set the example for her and all children by being the social and behavioral change ourselves.
If you had to limit yourself to the number of characters in a Tweet, how would you describe your approach to leading RBC’s SBCC portfolio?
Better together! It is an honor to be a part of RBC and work with you: Colleagues, partners and communities. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a few. Together with yours, there is no challenge we cannot overcome, no issue we cannot address.
What is it like being the father of an 11-year old?
It’s beautiful, meaningful and challenging. On a day to day basis, just watching her grow and evolve is an inspiration. It’s fun, puzzling and emotional. Being a father helps me to be grounded in reality, more connected to life and nature. She reminds me every day that my life is part of something much bigger, and not just about me. She is also a great photographer and took the picture of me on our beach.
Photo credit: Maya Fischer Jensen / 2019