about us

We are mission-driven and client-led
We strive for innovation, rigour and accountability
We are independent, a-political and follow the evidence

GIST was founded in 2019 by three experts with a shared passion for solving peacebuilding, relief and development challenges using rigorous, contextualised and innovative methods. The firm initially focused on research and analysis but has since expanded to deliver project design, implementation and monitoring, evaluation and learning services.

We work with governments, international organisations, and local community structures to discover, design and deliver transformative strategies and projects. We provide multi-disciplinary capabilities, with dedicated field teams and partners able to access hard to reach areas and experts engaging at strategic and operational levels. Our primary source access is complemented and reinforced through open source and remote sensing data exploitation.

We are a globally distributed company and our partners and experts reside across countries of operations in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Levant, Central Asia, South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Our organisational model focuses on building long-term, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with partners beyond the requirements of single projects. We recognise that nothing replaces local knowledge and invest our time and energy in connecting with uniquely driven and experienced researchers from the countries we work in.

founding team

Michele Cesari

Partner & co-founder

Michele has 21 years of experience in fragile and conflict-affected states. He initially managed humanitarian aid programmes and progressively focused on peacebuilding, stabilisation and countering-violent extremism strategies. He has designed, managed and evaluated many complex initiatives, including large multi-donor programs of over USD 100m+ in value. He is an experienced manager, having held multiple director and manager-level leadership positions with international NGOs and private organisations in the Balkans, Somalia, and Kenya. He has a master’s and undergraduate law degree, a post-graduate Diploma in Business Administration and is a Certified Sustainability Practitioner. Michele has been published in several books and journals.

Matthieu dillais

partner & co-founder

Matthieu has 15 years of experience in socio-economic research, analysis, monitoring and evaluation in fragile and conflict-affected states. He has designed and led large-scale research and evaluation platforms for US, UK, EU and UN agencies in Afghanistan, Middle-East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Matthieu has also led primary, mixed-methods research into conflict economies and violent extremism, as well as mixed migration, sub-national governance and public services delivery. He has set up and led consulting and research teams of 60+ international and local staff for several years in Eastern Africa. Matthieu holds an MA in International Affairs from Sciences Po Paris and an MA in Philosophy and Sociology from Sorbonne University.

marc parker

Partner & co-founder

Marc brings 20+ years of experience in research and analysis, and in designing and implementing capacity-building programmes. Before co-founding GIST Marc spent over a decade in the UK government as an analyst and team leader and a further decade designing and delivering capacity-building projects. He has worked in challenging locations in multi-national, multi-agency and multi-information environments throughout his career. Marc holds an MA in Diplomacy and International Security Studies, attended NATO senior staff college, and is a former visiting fellow at the Oxford Changing Character of War Program. He has one Chief Scientific Advisor and two Vice Chief of Defense Staff commendations