Nigel Thornton

Nigel Thornton


Nigel co-founded Agulhas in 2003, since when the company has become a respected provider of high-quality knowledge services. His role is animating Agulhas so that it continues to demonstrate leadership in ideas and remain focused on the needs of its customers. His motivation is to provide honest, high quality and responsive support that enables improvements in global development and sustainability. With the other Directors, Nigel leads Agulhas to build a diverse team committed to a better, more equitable world.

Nigel has at various times been a civil servant, an implementer of programmes, and manager and recipient of UK Aid. He has worked in more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. He has been a front-line deliverer and change manager, notably in Health Services in the UK and South Africa. Nigel was also an adviser in a minister’s private office in South Africa during the first post-Apartheid (ANC) Government. He currently leads the technical team working to support the UK’s Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). He has often presented evidence to Parliamentary Committees in the UK.

Key work skills

Nigel’s personal practice focuses on lesson learning, specifically using research, experience and evaluation to improve policy-making and practice. He is particularly driven by the desire for knowledge to become applied through action. A geographer and health manager by training, he has a broad technical range; from HIV/AIDS to the political economy of environment/climate change.

Other interests

Nigel is a Northerner in exile. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he enjoys spending time riding up hills on his bicycles (the correct number always being n+1) and losing at cards to his children.

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