My last week at Path is here. As this bittersweet moments starts and the holidays hit, it is vital to take inventory. Inventory of my accomplishments, feelings, check lists, areas of improvement and learnings.
I will say that I believe I had the model Pulse assignment. I had a NGO that is well organized, passionate and funded. They were open to my ideas, concepts, initiative and growth opportunities. It was more work than I had anticipated and way more exhausting that I had anticipated as well. When you stretch yourself on a regular basis you should be tired:) So here is a little look back at what I have been able to actually implement here in my short 6 months.
- Gallant condom PR plan. This included the plan itself, the design of all the materials, the approval process for all the materials, working with the vendors, training of the material and measuring the ROI. On that note, in the first month of measurable data, we have seen a 4 fold increase in Gallant sales! We launched the materials in only 4 PEPFAR provinces. In those 4 alone we have seen an increase of 300,000 Gallant condoms sold. Now the distributor is planning to print more of the material and execute the plan in the other 18 provinces! I told them that once we measure the data and see results it will change the way our partners will work. I believe this new approach will continue long after I leave.
- Doctor Young Lover: This condom brand was only suppose to be 20% of my efforts. It became a bit more. After the whole Naught Nurse box debacle, we launched a new effort with this brand. I was able to help design the new box, edit all the verbiage (way harder and not a strength of mine), create the PR material, negotiate the implementation of material/box with distributor, and have focus groups on the new design. I am particularly proud of this project. The box is beautiful and is now produced ready for distribution. After the success of Gallant the distributor is now planning on producing all the PR material to increase sales as well.
- Sales Skills Training: After GEMBA’ing out in the field, I saw a need. These community organizations had no sales training. So I was on a mission to help. I was able to create the training, work with the vendor to implement it now and after I am gone. They will do follow up and create a culture of training and observing after the training to see if it is implemented. This is the one area where I feel I had the greatest influence. Influencing the team here to see training as a continual process. It cannot be one and done. You always have to assess, create, implement and assess again. There are field visits happening right now to observe and learn where new areas for more improvement are. The feedback from the community organizations has been very positive and their sales have improved.
- Business Planning: With some initiative and genuine interest from the team here, I helped create business plan templates for the CBO’s and also for the team here. They have an Annual Work Plan, but it is very broad stroke strategy. Nothing from a tactical approach. Nothing on the day-to-day stuff. I was able to take a team building approach to this. Each day for a week, together as a team we built a section of the plan and template. Everyone had thoughts, input and agreed to what was vital and what was not. In the end it was a great collaborative process that is now being used! I also believe this will live long past my time.
- Social Media: Coming they had some ideas around social media and needs. When working with different key populations for HIV you really need to customize the approach. The largest group that Path works with are the MSM/TG populations. Gay dating applications seemed like a natural fit for PR and demand creation. And what a fit it has been. I was able to create 5 different campaigns on two platforms: Grindr and Hornet. Combined they reach 300,000 MSM/TG in the country. I designed the banner ads and broadcast messages for each campaign. I negotiated the contracts with the vendors. I gained input from everyone to make sure it stayed withing the values of Path and USAID. To date in the first 3 campaigns we have over 30,000 people click to review the ads for more than 30 seconds. The 4th was a survey. We needed 400 participants and we got 1400! The last campaign will happen after I leave. It is already designed and ready to go. The team here has learned how to work with the vendors and are ready to launch as soon as we have governmental approval for what the campaign is about.
- GrabCondom: This was a last minute project I volunteered for . A partner had won a fund from Path. Their idea was to create a site where people could order condoms and have them delivered. There is a social stigma here when buying condoms at pharmacies and grocery stores. They decided to have a campaign seeking corporate sponsors to buy large bulk orders of condoms (Gallant), and they would match that number and give them to youth in the area. They wanted to have an event. I volunteered to help guide the materials, social media and live event in Saigon. This got way bigger than I had anticipated. So Friday I flew to Saigon for the event. Around 100 people showed up along with representatives from several multinational companies. MTV showed up to cover the event as well as a couple of Vietnamese celebrities. I do not take all the credit of course. All of these things are a team approach. But we were able to launch this website successfully and it was trending on Facebook for Vietnam over the weekend! 98% of Vietnam uses Facebook.
This list is not exhaustive. It does not include the PrEP training material I created, negotiating with lubricant companies to import more into the country, working with manufactures to create local brands of condoms, lubricant and LDSS, the lubricant education material or the social media business training and template…
This is what happens when you are motivated.
Along this journey I have had ups and downs. Not everything went according to plan. Culturally there are different ways of working than I am used to. Many things are done at the last minute with a frantic pace. That is kind of how they work. I have learned not to fix things that I cannot fix. Culture is not something a single person should ever try to fix. I learned to adapt and realize it would happen. And it happened every time. But that is a skill set I will be bringing home. Never panic, just get it done. Be efficient. Anticipate. Stretch yourself and it will get done. I never broke. Because I am flexible. Because I have resiliency. Because I am me. And I am enough.
This sounds like a farewell blog but I assure it is not. After this week I will have two weeks of travel before I head back to the states, a new job (within GSK), a new place to live, and new challenges. I will meet them head on. I will learn and I will continue to grow. That is the learnings of Pulse. That above all else is what I bring back. A sense that I can do anything. A knowledge that listening will help you solve problems. GSK has a better employee now. More importantly they have helped groom a better human.