PIH’s Ophelia Dahl lends some advice to our team of MBAs

Dateline: February 2012
Location: MIT Sloan
By: ghdLAB students

Last week, MIT’s ghdLAB Special Projects team had the great opportunity to chat with Ophelia Dahl, the Executive Director of Partners in Health.  The Partners in Health organization was started by Ophelia and the legendary Paul Farmer and as of today has 15,000 employees in 20 countries and manages a $100M budget.  Ophelia has been working in global healthcare since she traveled to Haiti at the age of 18.  Her inspirational story could only be overshadowed by the passion in her voice when talking about global health.

In our meeting, we asked Ophelia if and how MBA students can make an impact on global healthcare delivery.  She quickly pointed out the strong need for business acumen in the field.  Specifically, she referenced the areas of logistics, supply chain, finance, and training.  Ophelia noted how essential it is to ensure supplies and distribution channels are in place and emphasized that new innovative ideas are needed to implement a cold chain in a hot, resource-poor country.  With regard to finance and training, she discussed the difficulty in implementing office management, accounting, and training best practices across clinics with high attrition and little resources.  It was clear that management practices are needed for global health care delivery to be successful and sustainable.

Hearing the opportunity to make an impact left our team grinning and eager to kickoff our projects in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana, and India.  Ophelia left us with an inspirational parting note regarding our projects – “Don’t let the bureaucracy get in the away.  Be creative.  Be flexible so that you can take yourself out of the box of your expertise and help where you can.  And lastly, listen to the locals.  You will be amazed what you can learn from them.”

Reference: http://www.pih.org/

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