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“Oikocredit has far more influence and impact on people than I realised”

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David Woods

June 01 2016

Following the announcement that he would be stepping down from his position as Oikocredit International’s (OI) managing director, David Woods shared his thoughts on his time at Oikocredit, his decision to move on and his future plans.

Why are you leaving and why now?

It’s always been my plan long-term to live in New Zealand. The timing happened to be right for me this year. Talking to the supervisory board there were various scenarios discussed, but I was granted a visa for New Zealand that says I need to spend 180 days out of the year in the country after August this year so I wanted to get moving. When I came here 3.5 years ago it was a choice between this job and something I was discussing in New Zealand, so in some ways I’m resuming what I was going to do then.

What are you going to do?

I hope that within a year I’ll have three directorships and some part time work. I’ve been in New Zealand 2-3 times a year every year for the last five years in anticipation of eventually moving there. Interestingly many of the issues with the Iwi trusts, which are the Maori social funds, are very similar to those that Oikocredit faces and I’m looking forward to using my Oikocredit experience in that context.

What was it like being MD of Oikocredit?

I was surprised in the first year at the complexity of the organization and how many different facets there are to what is overall a relatively small organization. It’s very big compared to what Oikocredit was when it started but it’s obviously not very big when compared with Deutsche Bank. But the complexities of the organization are considerable.

Did your expectations of working at Oikocredit match reality or was there a gap?

I think the expectation of my role and the reality were not the same, but I also think my expectation of the organization was different from the reality. The organization had far more influence and impact on people than I had realised when I joined, which is something that made it very rewarding but also challenging.

What have you learned during your time at Oikocredit?

I’ve learned much more than I knew before about social finance. I’ve learned that there is life outside big financial institutions. And I’ve learned to work with a much more international community than I ever had to in my prior life.

What’s been your most enjoyable moment at Oikocredit?

The most enjoyable moments are generally with our younger staff saying they’ve learned something, thanking you for training experiences or exchanges, because Oikocredit is all about people and investing in people. Seeing the effect of our work in the field is one thing, but seeing the often unexpected positive effect in our staff can be the most rewarding. I’ve met and worked with some fascinating and very committed people and it’s been inspirational. I’m grateful for the experience.

What advice do you have for Oikocredit going forward?

Don’t be afraid of being ambitious. Don’t be afraid of trying new things. Don’t rely on the past as a guide to the future. The strengths that Oikocredit can build on are primarily its people, mission and values.

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Oikocredit managing director David Woods steps down

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