jeph mathias

 My broad, nuanced vision of people, planet  and how they relate comes mostly from wide experience in extreme contexts but a twist of  higher education in diverse specialties adds a little extra. 

Hi! I'm Jeph- Indian/New Zealander, husband, father of four and, by dint of experience more than formal education, development specialist in complex contexts. I live with my family in the Indian Himalayas and travel to wherever work takes me.  Genuinely trying to make a positive, if small, contribution  to this gorgeous planet and our contrary species  I  believe strongly in what I do. This brief introduction  includes  my formal education and some of the wider experiences which shape who I am, how I think and what I bring to my work. You won't find other dimensions of me like my love of adventure, ideas, literature and wild places but if we work together you'll discover some of those other passions and I'll ask  you about yours.

Formal Education and Positions

  • 1986 MA (Cambridge, England) Ecology/philosophy (as Girdlers scholar)

  • 1993 BHB, MBChB (Auckland, NZ) Medical Degree

  • 1996 Dip Obs. (Otago, NZ) - Post grad. Obstetric Diploma

  • 2004 MPhil Development Studies (Massey, NZ) Distinction

  • 2004 Conservation biology (Canterbury,NZ) at MSC level.

  • 2013 and 14- Masters papers in GIS (Massey, NZ)

  • Honorary Research Fellow in Development Studies, Massey University New Zealand

  • I teach wilderness medicine at postgraduate level (Otago University, New Zealand)


I work in English (first language) Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi/Urdu.

Professional Affiliations

I am an independent development professional, on the Board of Stewards of the International Outcome Mapping Learning Community, a member of the International Outcome Harvesting Forum, a research fellow in Development Studies at Massey University, New Zealand and a member of the American Evaluation Association. I'm also a medical doctor registered with the New Zealand Medical Council and Wilderness Medicine tutor at Otago University, New Zealand. 

This is who I am....

I'll take any human/environment  development challenge thrown at me, the more complex the better! Work with small, nimble teams in rapidly changing, dynamic contexts energises me  especially if its in one of our planet's difficult  to reach corners. Difficult to reach may mean geographically remote like the Amazonian rainforest or Himalayan valleys in which I have lived for many years but in today's world it often refers to spaces fenced off by social or economic barriers. Living in a Brazilian favela, a Delhi bustee, a Cambodian shanty and Calcutta slum has shown me how marginal poor corners of the human landscape are. Being an Indian teacher in an (illegal) multiracial school towards the end of apartheid in South Africa  brought me face to face with the power of discrimination and labels as 'fence' materials humans use to exclude others. A project I now work with  is  about  mentally unwell people and their families supervening stigma,  treatment gap, poverty and beliefs about psychiatric illness- formidable, socially constructed  barriers boxing them into a small, hard to reach space. Its the right kind of. place for me. 

What qualifies me to see the nuances of social and environmental projects, to notice what is happening and what is not, to visualise creative solutions., to communicate with field staff, office staff and international offices ? A life traversing this fabulous world, testing myself in its turbulent waters!  I’ve taught in apartheid South Africa, did an MA at Cambridge, volunteered at Mother Teresa’s in Kolkata, trapped crocodiles in the Amazon, was expedition doctor on Everest,  lived in a Cambodian slum, completed the world first traverse of the Mekong, worked with MSF in a Colombian war zone, implemented community health in remote Himalayan valleys, studied rare thrushes in Kenya, crossed the Darien alone…. I have significant first world experience too- running emergency departments in New Zealand, presenting at conferences, instructing  wilderness medicine and mentoring development masters students. Intense experiences like these in totally different spaces all rolled up together is a fantastic education in “People and Planet”.

Along with learning from extraordinary situations I have lots of experience actually implementing development myself. Over the years I've built my experience in design, monitoring, evaluation and capacity building in places as diverse as the UNFPA offie In Delhi, mud floored village houses on the Tibetan Plateau,  with mental health teams in Afghanistan,  Cambodian indigenous people and leprosy field workers in Nepal. Prior to that I lived and worked in extraordinary places  muddling through myself, learning what it is like to work on community health in Cambodian slums, design and implement a malaria control programme in Colombia, live in a Himalayan valley and work with village women nutrition workers, do spinal anaesthetics and operate in tiny rural clinics in India, listen as Tibetan villagers tell of snow leopards killing their stock.... I've been there, done that.  Out where development theory meets the real world I've seen pressures of time, sketchy infrastructure and disparate personalities play out. If your project is small, you work under pressure or resources are scant I might just understand where you're coming from. 

Recreation adds important dimensions to who I am. Just like the emergency room alpine climbing, trans-alpine traverses and mountain biking enforce the nuances of  risk analysis, the importance of teamwork, the urgency of taking and implementing decisions. Our five month world-first  Mekong source-to-sea traverse was full of key decisions, working under stress with a team and  simply ‘gutsing out' long hard days. If my bike malfunctions  I have to rationally analyse problems and implement solutions with my own hands, do what works- just like emergency medicine. Hunting adds more intuitive, less defined skills also in hard contexts. Writing, photography and poetry are primarily about looking deeply but also learning to express what I see with creative intensity. These are all attributes I bring to my work. 

Finally, and for me definitely less important than my experience and even my recreation in my formation, is academic training in a number of specialties.  My Cambridge MA was in philosophy and biology. A medical degree from New Zealand, emergency medicine training and a post-graduate diploma in Obstetrics represents years of rigorous logical, rational thinking.  My Development Studies MPhil, also from New Zealand, was awarded with distinction,  perhaps because of the real world experienceI brought with me. That forced me to think more widely and contextually.  I also have masters papers in GIS and conservation and many courses in emergency medicine, development and evaluation. Being a research fellow in Development Studies at Massey University, New Zealand and presenting at international conferences also enforces academic rigour and good communication.  In development I have studied Outcome Mapping and Harvesting, complexity and utilisation focused evaluation. I continue to educate myself via webinars, books and conferences. As with my practical experience a multi-faceted academic background lets me see the world through different lenses,  think in different ways and converse in different (academic) languages. 

That's me- someone who has learned, academically but more importantly practically,  to see the world in many ways. I have become good at looking, listening  and delving for perspectives and boundaries (what's in, what's out) and am practiced in the arts of contextualisation and synthesis. I am good at presenting  subtle ideas deeply but simply.  I love the work I do.

My keynote presentation to AUMSA medical conference, 2014 is not medical. It is a good summary of who I am and how I tick in an MP4. See it here.

Academic Publications

  • Mathias K, Mathias J, Goicolea I, Kermode,M 2017 Strengthening community mental health competence—A realist informed case study from Dehradun, North India. Health and Social Care, September 2017

  • Mathias,J 2016 "The Human Face of Inequality" British Medical Journal blog Oct 6 2016

  • Mathias,J and Prinsen,G. 2014 “Development as Regime Shift” Presentation in Dev-Net conference, Dunedin, New Zealand. Published in conference proceedings - .

  • Mathias,J 2014 “Guerillas in the mist: how I met a Colombian rebel leader” British Medical Journal 28 July BMJ 2014;349:g4816

  • Mathias, J. 2014 “You Played at Rapid Sequence Induction while my World Burned” British Medical Journal Jan 16 2014 BMJ 2014;348:g119

  • Mathias,K. Mathias, J. Hill ,P. 2011“An Asset-Focused Health Needs Assessment in a Rural Community in North India” Asia Pac J Public Health September13, 2011 1010539511421193

  • Mathias, J. 2004 “Dialogues around tenure review” Development Studies Masters thesis.

  • Mathias, J., Overton.J. 2004 “Widening the Development Space” Dev-Net Conference Proceedings. Delivered at Dev-Net Conference 2004, Auckland, New Zealand.

  • Mathias, J.2002 “Selfish Genes or Selfish Development: An Ecological Perspective on Our Development Trajectory” Dev Net Conference proceedings. Presented at Dev-Net Conference 2002, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Published in conference proceedings.

Formal Presentations

  • “Time is of the Essence” Blue Marble evaluation Webinar with Michael Quinn Patton on March 5 2019

  • Complexity, OM and OH- 4 day workshop for UMN Nepal. Kathmandu, Nepal 24-27 July 2018,

  • Outcome Mapping International Training Course (OMLC) Bangkok, June 2018

  • Outcome Harvesting. Two one day workshops for the NZ Evaluation Association, Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand. March 2018, With Rory Jones

  • “Indigenous Identity in North East Cambodia” Pubic Lecture, Massey University, New Zealand. March 13 2018

  • Every Day Political Analysis- 1 day open workshop Phnom Penh Cambodia Dec 2017.

  • Managing Outcome Based Development 2 day open workshop Phnom Penh, Dec 2017

  • Outcome Harvesting practical training. International course delivered in Mondulkiri, Cambodia Dec 2017 with Mariam Smith

  • Outcome Mapping International training course (3 days) Mondulkiri, Cambodia Dec 2017

  • Outcome Mapping for Health and Wellbeing- two day training course Toronto, Nov 2017

  • Outcome Mapping workshop 1/2 day- American Evaluation association conference Washington DC Nov 2017

  • Outcome Harvesting with a Twist of Systems Thinking “ With Bob Williams. American Evaluation Association conference Washington DC Nov 2017

  • "Conservation as a social science" Wildlife institute of India August 2017

  • Interactive three days on "Development and Climate Change" for Masters in Transformational Development course, Kuala Lumpur April 2017

  • "Conservation as a Social Science"- interactive presentation to Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore Jan 2017

  • Facilitated two sessions (Monitoring and Evaluation) at International Outcome Mapping Technical course, Brussels, Dec. 2016

  • "Thinking out of the Box" 2 day workshop for UNFPA, Delhi August 2016

  • "Development in complexity" Workshop for Change Alliance, Delhi August 2016

  • Interactive session on "The Human Complexities of Conservation" for Wildlife Institute, India, Dehradun August 2016

  • Workshop "Expedition Medicine" at APTHC medical conference, Kathmandu March 2016

  • Facilitated 3 day "Development in Complexity" Workshop Massey University, Wellington New Zealand Feb 2016

  • Panel sessions on "The Use of Outcome Mapping in Cultural Conflict" and "Strengths and Weaknesses of Outcome Harvesting in Complexity" at the American Evaluation Association Conference, Chicago November 2015.

    Download the OM presentation from:

  • Mathias,J and Prinsen,G. 2014 “Development as Regime Shift” Presentation in Dev-Net conference, Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Keynote speaker at AUMSA conference Auckland, July 2014. See the presentation :

  • Mathias, J., Overton.J. 2004 “Widening the Development Space” Dev-Net Conference Proceedings. Delivered at Dev-Net Conference 2004, Auckland, New Zealand.

  • Mathias, J.2002 “Selfish Genes or Selfish Development: An Ecological Perspective on Our Development Trajectory” Dev Net Conference proceedings. Presented at Dev-Net Conference 2002, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

On top of this I have taught many courses, lectures, led workshops and run less formal presentations. I enjoy teaching and communicati3 day workshop