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The Client

With a long-standing interest in sustainability, the Mlinda Foundation offers market-based solutions for investors and consumers to reduce threats from climate change.

Key Objectives

Oxford HR worked with the Mlinda Foundation in 2020 in the search for a General Manager. The unexpected departure of the previous two Indian Directors had given the foundation an opportunity to restructure and re-define the leadership roles in India, of which the General Manager of the Charitable Trust in India, was one.


  • Executive Search
  • Board & Advisory
  • Leadership & Change

Our search focused on a wide range of development organisations, including contacting over 300 individuals working in DFID India, UNDP, Oxfam, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Palladium and many more. For this role we undertook in depth research of Market Systems Development, to make sure the candidates aligned with the specialized approach of the organization so there wouldn’t be a learning curve, and we also had to familiarize ourselves with the particular context of the region where the projects were taking place to ensure we could effectively screen the candidates for awareness of/ sensitivity to the difficulties of the work site. It was helpful to work with our consultant for India, Gazal Srivastava, who has strong knowledge of local considerations as well as smaller Indian development organisations that aren’t as well known.

We presented a longlist of 13 Indian national candidates. Mlinda Foundation were delighted with the outcomes of the search and our Leadership & Change Team’s assessments, and ended up appointing two candidates; one into the General Manager role, and one into another role in the organisation. They are also considering a third candidate to join on a consultancy basis.

The support from Oxford HR could not have been better, from the development of the candidate pack, the work they put into understanding the role specification and the quality of the candidates put forward for selection. Communications were excellent throughout the process. We took advantage of the Psychometric Testing service for the shortlisted candidates which we were very impressed with & was a great help in supporting the final selection of candidates.

Mlinda Team

The candidates also thoroughly enjoyed the Oxford HR process. Avinash Upadhyay was placed into the General Manager role. Avinash joins the organisation with a background in Sustainable livelihoods and health & nutrition. He was drawn to the role because of Mlinda’s approach to creating end-to-end solutions of economic development which are easily replicable and scalable. He is looking forward to the challenges this opportunity will provide, enjoying both the field and HQ aspects of the role.

“I saw this as an opportunity as well as challenge to contribute towards this global ambition from India by taking charge of its mission here and ensuring a large and impactful footprint.”

The Mlinda Foundation made an additional placement, and also appointed Shelly Kerketta as Head of Economic Development. Similarly to Avinash, Shelly values the work carried out by the Foundation.

“I wanted to work with Mlinda because of our shared values of sustainable production and consumption, experience in livelihood promotion and inclusive market development, opportunities that Mlinda provides to grow and meaningfully contribute to sustainable development.”

Shelly is excited to expand on her leadership and organisational development skills, whilst also enabling Mlinda to have an economic development strategy that truly brings about an increase in incomes and jobs and how women play a key role in achieving it. She also speaks highly of Oxford HR’s involvement.