Technology Completing Mediation. Member Spotlight: Damian Croker

In most cases, the thirst for traveling and exploring new cultural contexts represents the springboard for one’s evolution. Eventually, the passion for appreciating what is different among humans, populations, and cultures, may lead towards embracing mediation as the most effective and ‘natural’ way of resolving conflict. Such an outline may well represent the life and career achievements of Damian Croker, affirmed mediator and arbitrator from Bournemouth, United Kingdom. Damian prides a long and rich portfolio in different sectors and companies. Since 2018, he has been leading DCArbMed, a mediation business offering services primarily focused on the technology sector. Moreover, given his keen expertise in the economics and technology fields, Damian has merged his various interests in the founding of ODRPlat, a digital platform to facilitate online mediation and arbitration processes. Last but not least, he has been part of MBBI for several years, taking direct participation and action to the mission of the Climate Change Project.

At full travelling: international trade & the tech sector.

As Damian recounts, his kickoff with international trade as well as the technology sector, beyond the mediation sphere, was driven by “a strong desire and interest in international affairs, culture, history and travel”. The instances Damian spent travelling across Russia and Eastern Europe during the Cold War, as well as his period of study in Finland within an international context, contributed to forge an enquiring mind and to propel a thirst for broadening his horizons, which eventually led him to earn a diploma in International Trade at the Institute of Export. Such a specialization allowed Damian to spend several years working and travelling across the five continents, particularly throughout the Middle East, and to have a first direct encounter with war. “I was there during the Iran-Iraq war” he tells, “I can vividly remember one missile hitting Kuwait City’s airport right after I had transitioned from there”. 

After few years of moving goods around, family needs guided Damian to switch into the technology sector, which nonetheless had always been a primary passion. Getting hired by a large multinational company, Damian was offered the opportunity to travel even more, deepening his contact with Asia and the Far East. As he likes to put it: “the good thing about all my jobs is that they allowed me to see the world but someone else paid for it”.

Commercial & community mediation.

While working into the technology sector, and especially during his duties as a contract officer, Damian recounts of coming into contact with mediation, an unknown path until that point. Needless to say that he was immediately struck by mediation power and effectiveness. “Disputes in the technology sector and especially contracts-related conflicts are all about going to court, which takes a lot of time. Mediation demonstrates much more effectiveness to speed the process of resolution of controversies”. Impressed by such efficacy, Damian started to apply some elements of mediation to his profession, even encouraging his company to a major adherence to ADR principles.

Damian did not embrace mediation fully until 2018. Before that, his desire to “give back and help” his own community, joint with a fresh enthusiasm for ADR methods, made him volunteer for a community mediation center. Starting with the basic notions on mediation, he overtime developed an all-encompassing expertise within the area of community and neighbors’ conflict, practicing and assisting hundreds of community mediation processes over the years. Despite this latter type of mediation differs greatly from the commercial one, involving a higher degree of emotions and situation that cannot be resolved simply by accommodating sums of money, Damian carries a profound attachment to it: “it was actually amazing, as a mediator and as human, to walk in a situation where people completely hated each other, they did not even talk with themselves. Then, at the end of the mediation, they were crying together and hugging. It is just fantastic, it always gives me great feelings for having reached what looked impossible at first”.

Damian demonstrates to be a great advocate towards the scalability of mediation at the local level. Particularly, the opportunity to apply the schemes of community mediation to other context and types of reconciliatory processes is what attracted him towards joining MBBI. As an active member of the Climate Change Project Team, he is determined to put his expertise at the service of solving climate disputes and conflict around the globe.

DCArbMed, ODRPlat and much more. 

Currently, Damian dedicates his time to a variety of activities revolving around mediation, but not solely. First and foremost, he is a professional dispute resolution practitioner, after having added an arbitration certificate to his portfolio in 2018. “Arbitration, like mediation, is an alternative way to resolve certain kinds of disputes much faster and cheaply”, he confirms. His dedication to ADR is handled through his own business DCArbMed, which offers services of commercial arbitration and mediation in the technology sector. Since 2018, he has assisted businesses and privates with ADR competences, focusing on the areas of commercial contracts and technology-related controversies. His objective is to offer more efficient ways to deal with conflict within the commercial and tech field, and “to speed up the process” of disputes’ resolution. Connected to this, Damian is eager to teach his well-established expertise thanks to the role of visiting professor of commercial arbitration and mediation at the Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance.

Remarkably, Damian conveyed his passion for technology into the founding of two tech companies. The first, Lexdech, offers IP services and solutions to firms. The second, ODRPlat, remains more attached to the world of mediation. This, indeed, is web data platform offering plenty of resources and mediation tools to conduct online ADR sessions. “The aim is to offer an increased access to justice for anybody around the world, lowering the cost of connecting and solving conflict”, he explains. The platform is designed to assist practitioners in their performance of remote mediation sessions, and it is particularly aimed to be used in those countries where the means and resources for conflict resolution, obstructed by both economical and physical barriers. Notably, ODRPlat can be accessible even in those situations where internet connectivity is weak. “And it is carbon neutral!”, Damian enthusiastically concludes, pointing out his deep commitment for minimizing the carbon footprint of his company.

As part of Damian strong commitment towards countering climate change, he also makes part of the Campaign for Greener Arbitration, a global initiative aimed at reducing the environmental impact of international arbitrations. At the moment, he is in charge of CGA Latin America. Suffice to say that Damian’s enquiring and curious mind flourished greatly over the years, enlightened by one, resilient passion: “to resolve conflicts that seemed intractable”.

Written by Matteo Piovacari: MBBI Writer