I have been struggling to write this blog from the time I finished my assignment. Not only because it was a very busy month which felt like being thrown into a highway full of cars, but because it was very challenging to describe the change that happened to me at a very deep level, touching upon my mindset, beliefs, and values. It was the same change that one feels after getting married or when he becomes a proud father. It is that same different look at the world, when you start appreciating the blessings that you used to take for granted.
To make it simple, I will share with you some of the AHA moments during my assignments:
First impressions matter: When I started my assignment, I was introduced to most of the stakeholders at Amref HQ. Although I had the option of introducing myself in a couple of minutes, I instead took the chance and prepared few questions to uncover two things. Opportunities they hoped to achieve, and challenges they wished to overcome. I can’t express my appreciation for the amount of insights I got, which helped me a lot in achieving my objectives. The first thing I received in my feedback report is that I do ask valid questions and I am very serious in my intentions of adding value to the business.
Listen first: During my assignment a new director took over our department, and during my first meeting with him he started presenting his thoughts and ideas on how to improve the business. Although some of these ideas were valid, but I couldn’t hide my frustration for being unable to discuss the real issues we are facing and the root causes for these challenges. The lesson I took is that whenever I take on a new responsibility, it is crucial that I hold back and listen to the people in order to understand their concerns and start from there.
Networking is magic: One of the solutions I proposed to improve the business development processes at Amref involved a major structural change. It was almost impossible to achieve this in six months. Hence, we got all the key stakeholders from inside and outside the HQ involved and we made sure to get the proposal endorsed by them which was a fundamental catalyst for this process. The end result was getting our proposal approved after five months.
The power of WHY: Many times we encounter resistance when presenting new ideas and solutions. In addition to the proposal discussed earlier, I worked with the HR to improve the appraisal system by increasing the focus on personal development and introducing the mid-year review. In addition to that, I helped the fund raising team to find ways to improve the donor relationship management system and initiate exemplary events to brand Amref and diversify the funds sources. What was common to get all those ideas endorsed was that I explained why we needed to change the current situation, described the desired outcome, and then I asked the team to suggest solutions. In most of the cases the team came up with the right suggestion that I wanted to propose. The key learning was that the more effort you spend to analyze and define the issue the less time you need to reach to the solution.
Finally, if there is a single piece of advice to my colleagues who applied to the Pulse this year, it is to trust themselves and the organization we are working for. From day one on their assignment they will realize the competencies and skills they have gained over the years in GSK. These are the weapons and tools that will help them in their endeavors to pay back to the communities.