The 1st month Journey




Chee Yong, from Singapore, is working with a team of #GSKVolunteers at Direct Relief International to build a Project Management Framework, in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow along on Twitter using #GSKVolunteers.



It’s been a month with Direct Relief and Santa Barbara. A scene that I keep seeing when I walk around the city is the homeless people spending their days and nights on the streets. This makes me recall when I told my friends and colleagues in Singapore that I’m going to volunteer with Direct Relief in the US for my PULSE assignment, the question I was asked was, “US is such a developed country, why do they need volunteer for non-profit organization?”. Through Direct Relief, I started to understand that from the outside world, US is viewed as a developed country. However, there are still thousands of people in US who are struggling with day to day living and rely on non-profit organization to support them. Not being able to afford the basic medical care is one of the key issues and one of Direct Relief’s goals is to make medicine available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

What can I do to support this goal? For the past 1 month, I pro-actively spend most of my time in the warehouse, working alongside the staffs at Direct Relief to run through the process of packing the medicines for the replenishment program. The aim is to lean the replenishment process to ensure the clinics receive the medicines they requested timely. The Root Cause Analysis tools I acquired in my role at GSK come in handy. The tools provide me and the Direct Relief staffs with a step by step approach in understanding the current process and fine tuning it. We are in the process of finalizing the procedure, getting ready to try it out for the replenishment packing this month.

When I was attending the 2 days orientation for this PULSE assignment, my key fear and concern was not being able to deliver the expectation for the assignment with Direct Relief. In my mind at that time, I was wondering how a Chemist by training can successfully help to develop a project management framework using Sharepoint for the organization. This was way beyond me! However, after 1 month here, the concern has evaporated. Reality has demonstrated all is possible. By working with the relevant parties in the organization, I have created a template for the Technology team to work on and the trial for using the new project management framework is plan for end of Aug.

I’m so grateful for the perfect match that the PULSE team has done. It was like a jigsaw puzzle, piecing together nicely from the 1st day I joined Direct Relief. With all the positive energy from the staffs of Direct Relief, I was able to get up to speed with the expectation of the project I’m assigned to within one month with the organization.