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Transitioning from my role as IDinsight’s CEO

6 February 2020

A note from IDinsight CEO Neil Buddy Shah.

Dear IDinsight family, partners, and supporters,

I am writing to let you know some exciting, but bittersweet news. This summer I will be transitioning out of my role as CEO of IDinsight to become the Managing Director at GiveWell, one of the world’s largest international development funders and a close partner of IDinsight’s. To say that this role has been the highlight of my career would be an understatement. IDinsight has been my passion and obsession since I co-founded it eight years ago with four remarkable leaders and dear friends: Esther Wang, Andrew Fraker, Ron Abraham, and Paul Wang.

I started on this journey because I, like many of you, see deep injustice in ‘the accident of birth’. The reality that arbitrary factors, like one’s place of birth, parents, gender, ethnicity, and intelligence, play such a big role in determining whether a person is able to live their fullest life. While the world spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year trying to address this injustice, our system – both in the US and globally –  does not create incentives for money to flow to the most impactful policies, despite their dramatic and consequential effect on people’s wellbeing.

My personal journey, and that of IDinsight, has been to empower leaders and communities with the data and evidence tools they need to do the most good and help those who have had a less lucky draw in the lottery of life, prosper and flourish.

At IDinsight, our ethos and culture is to never be satisfied. We constantly strive to make ourselves, our organization, and the world better. Despite this orientation towards constant improvement, I am still immensely proud of what we have accomplished over the last eight years. I look forward with even greater anticipation to how much impact we can create in the future.

First, our work has directly improved lives. Our evidence is playing an instrumental role in increasing access to and use of hygienic sanitation, getting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable girls in school and learning, increasing farmers’ incomes, improving maternal and infant health practices for millions, and scaling clean energy solutions that save families money and improve health.

In addition to improving specific anti-poverty programs, I am especially excited about our work supporting national governments to create infrastructure that institutionalizes evidence-informed policymaking. We have been fortunate to work with talented colleagues in the Government of Ghana to support the growth of their new Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation.  In India, we have had the privilege of helping the national Government of India create their National Data and Analytics Platform, whose stated vision is “to democratize access to public Government data through a world-class user experience.” This new platform has great potential to drive research and innovation in policymaking as well as citizen-led accountability, and we are proud to be close partners in supporting its establishment.

All of our client engagements and project work have been part of a broader endeavor, alongside other like-minded organizations, to help create a fundamentally more effective international development sector, in which money flows based on evidence of impact. We have made original contributions to this evidence-informed policymaking movement, including Decision-Focused Evaluations, Embedded Learning Partnerships, Data on Demand, impact measurement for Results-Based Financing, and measuring the preferences of people affected by development programs. In the process, I have been lucky to learn from brilliant colleagues helping to advance this movement working with institutions like the governments of India, Uganda, and Zambia, the World Bank, Hewlett Foundation, Gates Foundation, CIFF, ELMA Philanthropies, Mulago, Central Square Foundation, GiveWell, GiveDirectly, Educate Girls, Pratham, iDE, JPAL, IPA, CEGA, Instilgio, and so many others.

Finally, and most personally, I am incredibly proud of the hundreds of IDinsighters past and present who have built this organization. I may be biased, but it is hard to imagine a group of individuals as brilliant, curious, kind, and devoted to erasing the accidents of birth, as our team.

It is precisely this deep admiration for my colleagues at IDinsight that makes me confident now is the right time for a CEO transition. It is clear we are poised for even greater impact in the years to come. IDinsight is the strongest it has ever been. We have an exceptional leadership team, including all of my four co-founders and the addition of three new Partners. I will continue to support IDinsight in its next chapter as a close advisor to the Board and Partners. I have no doubt that IDinsight’s future will be a remarkable one.

Our Board of Directors and leadership team are working with Kathleen Yazbak from View Crest Advisors who is overseeing our CEO search. We welcome your applications, recommendations, and referrals, which can be sent to to help us find the perfect candidate for this position.

Thank you for supporting me and IDinsight. Most of all, thank you for being part of our collective effort to create a world in which all beings have the ability to live their fullest lives.

With gratitude,


For more information about this search please see the relevant post from Viewcrest Advisors.