Dr. Kenneth Holland joined USAID’s Higher Education System Strengthening Activity as the new Chief of Party, bringing to the role significant international and higher education experience, including previous work in Pakistan. Holland traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan in early December 2023 to meet with key stakeholders, project staff, and USAID.
Holland met with the outgoing Chief of Party (COP), Dr. Aslam Chaudhry, who will now assume the role of Associate Project Director for HESSA, on December 13, 2023 in Islamabad, with the primary objective of facilitating a smooth transition and effective handover of leadership responsibilities.
Chaudhry provided an overview of the current organizational structure, ongoing project activities, and key strategic initiatives. He shared insights into the team’s internal culture, as well as external relations with USAID, HEC, and university partners.
Chaudhry emphasized the importance of maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders, both internal and external. The one-to-one meeting ensured a seamless transition of leadership. Both Holland and Chaudhry agreed to ongoing collaboration and maintaining open lines of communication during the project term, while the new COP committed to building upon the project’s progress so far.
The meeting with Chaudhry was followed by a detailed program orientation for Holland by Chaudhry and Dr. Ayesha Razzaque, Deputy Chief of Party HESSA.
Held on December 13, 2023 in Islamabad, the meeting aimed to provide Holland with a comprehensive understanding of HESSA’s components and progress to date toward each component’s goals. This proved instrumental in providing insights about the project and work planning for year three. The collaborative effort facilitated a smooth transition by ensuring that the incoming COP was well-informed about overall progress and future directions. The commitment to transparency and cooperation among the outgoing and incoming leadership enhanced the groundwork for a successful leadership transition.
Meeting the Staff
The final roundtable meeting of the leadership transition was held on December 15, 2023 in Islamabad, where Chaudhry introduced Holland to the Project Management Unit (PMU) Pakistan team members, facilitating a smooth introduction and fostering early connections.
The different tasks of PMU staff were described in detail, along with the reporting structure and aspects of internal communication between team members. The financial and procurement processes adopted by PMU Pakistan were also explained to Holland.
The importance of maintaining positive external communication with HESSA stakeholders and the use of appropriate channels of communicating with USAID, HEC, and partner university leadership was shared by Chaudhry. He offered words of encouragement and urged the PMU team to extend the same support to the new COP.
The meeting concluded with an open forum, allowing staff to pose questions and share their thoughts. The forum fostered a sense of unity and reassurance among the team.
Overall, the final meeting marked the beginning of a new phase, characterized by continuity and collaboration, setting a promising tone for the journey ahead under the new leadership.