Michael Levett

Senior Fellow in Social Innovation

Mr. Levett is a leading expert and consultant in international economic development, often focusing on creating private sector initiatives and public-private partnerships that promote economic opportunities and economic growth in challenging environments. With more than 25 years’ experience working in and with the private sector around the world, with small and medium size enterprise development in emerging and frontier markets, and with local government and NGO capacity building. Mr Levett’s multi-sector experiences and multi-dimensional approach are essential to lasting success in complex world settings and challenging environments.

Mr. Levett supports multinational corporations’ initiatives that build the private sector in developing countries by promoting local procurement expansion—local content/local supplier capacity-building programs—in multiple industry sectors. He pursues private sector initiatives as part of conflict prevention/post-conflict development strategies as well as CSR-driven and SME-growth development programs and is recognized for his work with non-profit organization development and leadership.

Formerly the President & CEO of CDC Development Solutions (CDS), Mr. Levett led the organization’s expansion into more than 80 countries on five continents and the creation of CDS’ practice area in supply chain quality management and local content development. His ability to work effectively across all sectors and to deal with both public policy and corporate practice helped CDS to become the rare not-for-profit organization financed through contracts with multinational corporations. Under his leadership, the organization placed a special emphasis on the development of supply chains in oil & gas, mining, agriculture/agribusiness and tourism because of the unmatched potential of “local content” to engage international businesses, expand prosperity and realize government, social and political mandates.

He currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC where he recently published a well-received report on the business case for private sector initiatives driving economic development. The Report included a multi-sector review of innovative, successful local content initiatives and their economic impact in emerging markets as well as introducing limited, timely, targeted interventions by donor organizations strategies to maximize local suppliers in global supply chains.

Prior to joining CDS in 1994, Mr. Levett served as the founding President of Business for Social Responsibility following years as an entrepreneur in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe developing and managing trade, cultural, and commercial ventures.

His professional background includes vice presidencies at two international film production companies, Lucasfilm, Ltd. and Dino DeLaurentiis Corp. Levett coordinated marketing and merchandising for more than 15 DeLaurentiis theatrical films and supervised creative and strategic planning for U.S. marketing; in addition, he negotiated marketing agreements outside the U.S. and managed media/public relations. Responsibilities varied from supporting the creation of an independent movie studio in North Carolina to work on feature film post-production. At Lucasfilm, Levett served as senior corporate executive for international licensing/marketing, publishing and recording for Star Wars series and Raiders of the Lost Ark. In this role, Levett conceived and developed new business projects, negotiated international and domestic agreements and managed division’s financial, administration, and creative staffs.

Michael Levett has been a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, a White House Fellow in Washington, D.C. and a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University with as focus on environmental and regional planning issues. He holds B.A. and J.D. degrees from UCLA. He serves on the Board of Directors of Small Enterprise Assistance Funds and the Board of Directors of Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance and is the Vice Chairman of CDC Development Solutions Board. He has been appointed a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a Non-resident Fellow of Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.