Saturday, August 16, 2014

After Africa

 After three months in Dar, I have now made my way back to Ann Arbor.  The timing feels odd as many next steps were just beginning; many of my recommendations revolved around an integrated strategy for the mRDT market, which involved building consensus with other NGOs and the government.  My last afternoon was spent in a government conference room with all the key organizations gaining alignment on the next steps.  It will be exciting to see what occurs next, although most gains are not likely to really be seen for years and maybe even decades.  Motivating individuals to change behavior when the individual benefit is much smaller than the public benefit challenges and requires regulatory change is a goal that will not be solved with a summer’s worth of work.  My appreciation of the complexity around health issues has increased dramatically.  In addition to requiring coordination of many different stakeholders, technology can change much faster than implementation.  Achieving the best health outcomes requires the difficult balancing act of coordinating current products while planning for future changes.  I learned a lot about CHAI’s approach of working with governments and supporting private market and how that contrasts with other NGOs focused on the same outcomes.  My favorite aspect of the CHAI approach is the focus on achieving scale as part of the solution.  By taking a broad approach including governments and other stakeholders, many projects take longer, require more compromise, and change more frequently, but the end result can have a far wider impact.  The policy aspect of the work was the most challenging, but also the area with the most potential for improved outcomes.

So now as I get back to Michigan and gear up for the school year ahead, I am working on processing my summer experience and preparing for the future.  Business school really is incredibly fast-paced with new decisions arriving before everything can be totally processed.  I was able to achieve some of my primary aims in coming to business school in that I was able to stretch my boundaries, experience work life in an emerging market, and work within new business structures-- AND I was able to all of this with my family!  We were able to see many of the positive and negative aspects of living as an expatriate.  My experience this summer has prepared me immensely for the decisions that await me as I make decisions on the next step in my career.  The WDI internship has been a critical step in my step toward becoming a global leader.
1-yr olds can't go on safaris, but a stop at the Amsterdam zoo on the way home meant seeing giraffes up close
Watching the tide go out while in Zanzibar

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