Harbingers of development

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 09:32

A few years ago, the United Nations  published  17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide the role of public, non-profit, for-profit, and voluntary sectors in global development. The team behind it identified 17 goals and 169 targets, which was ratified at the United Nations summit in September, 2015. The SDGs cover social and economic development issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanisation, environment and social justice.

The goals became the need of the hour across the globe and also for developing countries like India that have a burgeoning population beset with societal issues. The country is facing numerous  challenges and there is  a dearth of people working towards eliminating these. The development sector demands a huge manpower along with a large brigade of professional leaders and managers to tackle development challenges and prevailing issues in society. It is gradually emerging as an exciting career which nurtures creative thinking, courageous action, collaboration and personal satisfaction. With changing times, the social sector is also transforming but the gaps still exist. 

If you are excited about filling in these gaps and wish to participate in building world class social organisations, and you want to design, implement, evaluate and monitor large-scale social interventions and develop collaborative ecosystems that can together deliver sustainable social change at scale, then you should opt for the path of development leadership and management. This would include areas of work like organisation strategy, people management, communication and engagement, financial management, organisation design & development, programme design and management, CSR management, fundraising, partnerships & stakeholder engagement etc.

Development Management as a course

The course is designed for social science graduates, or for those working in institutions involved in the management of development activities with central and local government, parastatal organisations, non -governmental organisations and multilateral or bilateral aid agencies.

This degree prepares graduates to lead organisations and institutions in the fields of development and public policy. Topics of study may include funding and research, project planning, human resources, sustainability, international economics, and leadership. Many courses also include fundamental instruction on operational theory regarding how development work succeeds in broader global contexts. Some programmes have prerequisite courses that must be completed to secure this fundamental knowledge.

Content and pedagogy

It is mostly offered as a  post graduate programme that has components for understanding the self, exploring development, and then the process of building an organisation to address the issue of social change. Pedagogy takes a group problem-based learning approach, pushing for collaborative problem-solving. Assessment is usually through a formative process that provides students an opportunity to get feedback from their peers and faculty, and also places emphasis on self-assessment.The intent is to build life-long learners, something that is critical for development leadership and management.  

Job prospects and remuneration

The booming demand and thrust for quality professionals in the segment is evident from the confidence that top-class development organisations from multiple categories are showing in hiring a new generation of professional leaders and managers for development sector who can help them to achieve each milestone with more effectiveness. Gaurav Shah, Founder and Dean, Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), says, “With the increase in funding to the social sector from newer avenues like CSR and private individual/retail philanthropy, impact funding, organisations are desperately looking for professional talent at a large scale and are paying a decent amount to attract talent. The growing demand for professionals in development space is giving Corporate and IT sector a run for its money and role offerings. In fact the first batch of ISDM received expressions of interest from 90+ reputed development organisations, 250+ roles for 57 students”. This immense interest shows the increasing acceptance of idea of Development Management and the need for good quality, committed, passionate Development Managers and Leaders in NGO sector. 

The road ahead

Development is not just about increasing growth and political and social rights. It is about creating self-sustaining institutions that liberate societies from low-level deprivation traps by increasing productivity, freedom, and cooperative interdependence. 

Therefore, there is a lot of potential in this career option which is rapidly gaining ground and which also takes you out of the cliched 'NGO' to working in the ' development sector. It is a paradigm shift that you would like to ride on to. 

Institute Watch

  • Azim Premji University, Bengaluru Offering MA in Development Management
  • National Law School of India University  (NLSIU), Bengaluru Offering Master of Public Policy course
  • The Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), Noida Offering PG Programme in Development Leadership (PGP-DL), 
  • Indian Institute of Rural management, Anand, Gujarat Offering PG diploma in management (rural) 
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai offering MA in Community Management and Development Practice
  •  Vivekanada Institute for Leadership Development, Mysore Offering MA in Development Management 


  • London School of Economics, UK Offering MSc in Development Management.
  • Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines Offering MA in Development Management

Expert Speak

The sector which was earlier perceived to be only offering low paid volunteering jobs is getting increasingly professionalised and is seen as offering meaningful and financially sustainable lives and careers to the youth of this country — people who are looking to build their lives working on improving the most complex social issues facing our nation.

Gaurav Shah, Founder and Dean, Indian School of Development Management (ISDM)