Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Our Director General Helen McCallum says goodbye

CI’s Director General retires this week. In her goodbye blog, Helen reflects on how the consumer movement can continue to grow.

Which other job takes you from a publications strewn basement office in Chile to a housewife’s front room in Mumbai, via a canal cruise full of activists in Amsterdam?

From day 1 being DG of Consumers International has been a roller coaster ride full of surprises, wonderful passionate people and opportunities to change business practice and international policy to improve the lot of consumers all over the world.

CI is growing members and supporters

It has been a huge privilege to lead Consumers International for almost three years and although I am sad to leave, I do so knowing that CI is growing its membership, finding many new organisations willing and eager to support the consumer cause and with a reputation for international influence that far outstrips its actual resource.

CI Members are stronger together than apart

CI’s success in lobbying for international standards and changes in business practice on everything from mobile phones (see our plans for World Consumer Rights Day 2014) to financial services, from healthy and safe food to better broadband deals is a testimony to the truth that as a consumer movement we are stronger together than apart.

Members of CI contribute in different ways – through personal attendance at meetings, by providing policy expertise, by making introductions and using their networks to help us reach the most influential players, by national lobbying in support of an international change and of course by paying their membership fees. Contributions vary, but each and every Member is critical to CI’s mission.

Without a truly international membership CI would not have access at the highest international decision-making levels as it does today.

CI Members should learn from each other

This is why it is important to continue to broker agreement and arrive at consensus positions which we can all stand by and support. It is why it is  important to use CI to seek out campaign ideas, income generation activities and sources of knowledge and expertise to help individual organisations to grow.

It is not true that small Members can learn from big Members but offer nothing in return;  or that one region has a monopoly on good ideas – there are numerous examples all over the world of successful ideas which have brought real benefits to consumers and which could be transferred to another country – without each organisation having to reinvent the wheel.

Continual reinvention

My hope for the consumer movement is that it will spot both the opportunities and threats in a changing world and find ways to continually reinvent itself. 

We all need to look outwards to take advantage of the new communications technologies that can help us reach ever broader audiences, be open to finding sources of support from outside the movement and constantly staying close to consumers themselves so that we are alert to new issues, policy changes and new business practices that affect consumers.

Our future lies in being at the forefront of the fight for consumer rights in a way which makes a real difference to real people.

I wish my successor Amanda Long all the very best as she takes on this challenging but satisfying role and I want to say a fond farewell to the very many Members who have made me welcome in their country, sent suggestions to CI and contributed to its success.

Season’s greetings to you all.       

1 comment:

  1. dear madam
    you are an inspiring leader to CI. Your creative thinking contributed to enhance the active participation of others for the betterment of consumers and CI. Thank you for your outstanding leadership and wish you all success in future.

    Chandrika Thilakaratne
    Consumer Affairs Authority
    Sri Lanka