Tectonica is lucky to have one of the best teams on the planet! Meet Oliver Kendall

Tectonica is lucky to have one of the best teams on the planet. To help you get to know the amazing folks that make up our team, we'll be sharing interviews with different team members. In this interview, we will introduce you to Oliver, Tectonica's Business Development and Engagement Manager! Originally from the U.S., Oliver worked in and around politics before moving abroad to teach and work with Democrats Abroad. Passionate about protecting human progress and the planet, advancing the values of an open, liberal society, and a little travel on the side, Oliver looks forward to furthering Tectonica's work to create a seismic shift in the way politics are done.

Tell us a little about your role at Tectonica.

I see my role with Tectonica being to connect us with the sorts of organizations we can and should be helping, in furtherance of our shared goal of creating a seismic shift in the way politics is done.


How did you end up working in this field?

I guess the answer to that depends on if we mean the field of digital organizing, or of politics more broadly. In the case of the latter, it’s been my passion since roughly the second grade when I realized I was a Democrat, and it’s the only thing I’ve ever really thought seriously about doing with my life, fantasies about taking over for Daniel Craig playing James Bond aside. If we mean the field of digital organizing specifically, basically an odd set of coincidences that led me from a comms person in DC, to teaching abroad, and back into the broader field of politics through coming on board with Tectonica to help connect us with potential collaborators. 


How do you understand digital organising in the current context, and how might it change in the coming years?

Well, as a comms person by background, I feel I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of organizing (my previous experience having been limited to serving as the volunteer phonebank coordinator for my staging point of the Obama campaign back in 2012), and as a person who isn’t particularly techy, I feel I’m also just beginning to scratch the surface of the digital part of digital organizing. In terms of how it might change in the coming years, come ask me again in six months!


How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed digital organising and how will it continue to change things further within the world of campaigning? 

A lot of smart people have said that the pandemic didn’t change history, it accelerated it. We’ve seen that in the context of everything from employment trends, to, sadly, political and cultural divisions. I think this is also true in the field of organizing, where it was necessary (for at least the one political party who decided to handle pandemic safety responsibly) to push most of the organizing efforts online. I think some of the tools and strategies built up over this period will continue to play a role in the coming years as, God/Pfizer/Moderna/Johnson/Astra/KN95 willing, we return to normal life where traditional in-person strategies can be augmented by the tools we’ve built in response to the pandemic.


What do you think makes Tectonica stand out in this sector?

I think the broad international experience Tectonica brings to the table really sets it apart, both in our ability to work in different contexts, and to bring, perhaps, a new perspective to political work in areas where most of the consultants and permanent staff are really only experienced in their own system. Speaking from my experience in the field of American politics, I don’t remember having met very many consultants who had experience adapting to different political systems. This mix of perspectives and creativity could, I think, be very helpful especially to the American political left, which, in my view, is often outmanoeuvred by the right under the current political structure. 


What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Well I’m still fairly new, and my role has me working less directly on the projects we do for our clients - talk to me again in six months!