The panel, Personal Journeys to Becoming Global Health Champions at the 2013 GBC Health Conference. Pictured (from left to right): Barbara Bush, William H. Roedy, Huma Abbasi, Gib Bulloch and Bill Martin. Photo courtesy of Whitney Kidder/GBC Health.
What does it take to ignite the health leader within?
That was the topic of an insightful panel discussion sponsored by Rabin Martin at the 2013 GBC Health Conference, which was held in New York, NY, May 15-17.
The session featured personal testimonials from an all-star group of panelists, which followed a moving introduction by Rabin Martin President & CEO Bill Martin, who told the audience about his experience losing a boyfriend to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Martin described this experience as his inspiration for working in the public health field.
Barbara Bush, the CEO and Co-Founder of Global Health Corps, talked about her personal experience as a college student, traveling to Africa to launch PEPFAR with her parents, then-President George W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, experiencing “the overwhelming feeling of thousands of people in streets” in desperate need of treatment and realizing then where her future lay.
Now in its fourth year, Global Health Corps taps into the “huge desire of young people to get involved” in global health. “It’s a great time to be working in global health,” she said.
William H. Roedy, a GBC Health Board member and the former President of MTV Networks International, described his personal motivation as dating to the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a time when he worked in the creative community and Los Angeles and saw first-hand what the disease was doing.
Making the connection to MTV – which at the time was transforming music and television – made sense given the overlap between the age of newly infected people and MTV’s viewership. He then realized the need to “deliver the network” as a platform for messages about HIV prevention and stigma reduction – messages which he said have now been woven into MTV programming at all levels.
Roedy summarized his view by saying simply, “Doing ‘good’ is good for business, good for your brand.”
Huma Abbasi, the Chief Medical Officer at the global oil and gas company Chevron, talked about the potential for making change on a large scale by leveraging the scale of leading companies. “I was satisfied as a clinician,” she said, but realized that she was able to make “impact at a larger scale” by changing how her company engaged in health.
“Chevron is not a health company but it makes so much sense to invest in health, creating healthy employees and communities from San Francisco to Sub-Saharan Africa,” she said. Abbasi noted that the company’s focus has “slowly and gradually” expanded beyond HIV/AIDS to NCDs (non-communicable diseases).
Gib Bulloch, the Founder and Executive Director at Accenture’s Development Partnerships unit, talked about his experience doing relief work in Macedonia after the crisis a decade ago, finding himself deeply satisfied by the work despite a steep salary reduction. When he returned to the world of traditional business consulting, he was determined to establish a new way of doing business.
“I realized how much more Accenture could do, and wondered: Could we actually industrialize this?” he said. Bulloch described building the business case for a new model that would focus on the “convergence” of interests between his company’s commercial clients and NGOs.
“Businesses are development actors,” he said, and need to start thinking about working in a “marketplace for outcomes” in health, carbon reduction and poverty.