Aleksandar Djureinovic, Project Management Specialist for Economic Policy, USAID Serbia
“I worked with Jesse in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia from 1998 to 2007. In Bosnia we worked to rebuild institutions and infrastructure in a fragile post war environment; while in Serbia Jesse managed a program through which we aimed to encourage civic activism and an effective platform for sustainable local economic development. In both Jesse was the driving force behind impressive achievements.
Throughout years working with Jesse I witnessed his extraordinary ability to integrate superb technical skills with an absolute sense of empathy for his team(s), counterparts and beneficiaries. In these post war environments he was a true leader and partner who earned through agreements and deeds the confidence of our government and community counterparts.
Jesse never avoided responsibility and always executed his authority thoughtfully, demonstrating superb decision making. Yet he constantly stimulated and encouraged a culture of curiosity within his teams and he constantly mentored staff and colleagues. Jesse’s approach provided the team with confidence and fostered team spirit. In addition to this, when communicating, Jesse constantly reminded colleagues regarding our purpose and goals, and thus all his teams achieved and operated on a clear shared values platform. Today, after many years within the development industry, I see these as fundamental elements of effective leadership and management, and I benefit today from experience gained from my work with Jesse.
Jesse properly identifies opportunities for improvements for team members, communicates them effectively, and supports their endeavors. His leadership provides an optimal environment for team members to grow professionally, which I find to be one of the most important skills and characteristics of a team leader. In my case I realize that Jesse had more confidence in my abilities to make a career in this industry than I did. He has been instrumental for setting proper guidelines and standards for my career today, and my career to come.
Today I enjoy benefits of patience and mentorship Jesse invested in me, and his constant efforts to build my capacities beyond levels I aimed for. He helped build my professional curiosity and he seeded my ability to establish a space for sense-making at the nexus of challenges, problems, and opportunities at strategic and tactical levels. All this dramatically helped me throughout my career and shaped my performance style and principles.
During our work in different contexts and environments he also taught me how to properly evaluate and interact with power, gain the confidence of and engage relevant stakeholders, and how important political sanity is for meaningful communications initiatives. He never did anything without clear demonstration of empathy which indeed is one of the key ingredients for maintaining the sense of purpose.
Jesse has a superb talent to reward initiative well and even manage and learn from failure. He creates an affirmative environment of trust which furthers professional growth. I personally, after all these years, consider Jesse Bunch to be my supreme mentor. I also consider Jesse to be my lifetime friend and I have been privileged to grow professionally and personally with his mentorship."