What is the goal for your Secondment with North Star and how would you describe your experience so far?
My assignment is to evaluate and improve the efficiency of the North Star laboratories. In Kenya, where other private clinics charge much higher fees for their services, the Blue Box Clinics fill a need in the communities they serve, and are very busy. So we’re also looking for opportunities to expand services and open more laboratories in other parts of Kenya and throughout Africa. I lead our marketing efforts to recruit more patients. Another one of my roles is to facilitate knowledge transfer, and so, from coaching sessions to developing marketing plans, everything we do, we do collaboratively, as one North Star team.
The experience so far is very different from anything that I have ever done before. I’m getting to spend a lot of time in the field — in the clinics, in the laboratories, and at the hot spots where truck drivers park and sex workers work. Navigating the cultural differences between Switzerland, where I had been living and working for the last eight years, and Kenya has been the most difficult part of this work so far. I’m grateful to be learning so much and am adapting my leadership style to the local context. It’s refreshing.
How has your background at J&J helped you develop North Star’s laboratory services? What’s working already?
At Johnson & Johnson (J&J), we’re very target-oriented and focused on performance, and the J&J business mentality, I think, is what really has contributed to my secondment. Carrying this business approach from Switzerland to my work in Kenya with North Star, I’ve been able to identify problems here and work with the North Star team to understand, set, and reach targets together. Collaboration is something we already do really well, and from day one, I’ve been committed to meeting everyone, listening to different perspectives and including them in proposals, and working together to turn our ideas into reality.