Riff Fullan

Riff Fullan is Team Leader, Knowledge and Learning at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation. Riff has been involved in the development sector for over 20 years, first on the academic side where he obtained a Master’s in Development Studies at University of Toronto, followed by a Doctorate at Sussex University. Research for the latter took Riff to Zambia where he lived for 2 years in several rural communities, exploring how access to women’s labour in agriculture was mediated by the complex post-colonial social and legal norms of the day, and in particular in how the state-sponsored legal system articulated with community based methods for managing social and familial relations.

Riff’s career emphasis shifted after this, when he began supporting the strategic use of internet-related technologies with the non-profit Association for Progressive Communications, moving to the Canadian donor agency International Development Research Centre (IDRC), where Riff spent much of his time supporting global and regional multistakeholder partnerships, as well as regularly travelling to East and Southern Africa for project support.

During Riff’s 10-year stint at IDRC, he became fascinated and deeply engaged with the area of Knowledge Management (KM), where he increasingly focused on how people learn, work together effectively, and share what they know based on their personal experiences and evolving expertise. This work led Riff to join Helvetas in late 2006 to focus more fully on knowledge and learning. Recently, Riff has been exploring the implications of working in complex contexts: how can we better understand such contexts, how can we ensure our activities contribute to positive development outcomes when we increasingly recognize that our understanding of and influence on the contexts in which we work is limited?


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