It’s not about what you know, but who you know.

Have you ever heard the expression it takes a village to raise a child? Well I’ve come realize it also takes a village to succeed in your PULSE assignment. Since landing in Nairobi I have become painfully aware of how much I DON’T know, a humbling experience to say the least. But one thing I’m very grateful for is my network and the willingness of my colleagues and friends to help me on my journey. I was suggested early on in my PULSE prep by my dear friend, Helene Pineau, to start building my PULSE Rolodex because on PULSE it’s not only about what you know, but who you know. And she was so right!

Burn 1

Just this week I was able to leverage a personal contact to help my NGO get in the door at one of Kenya’s largest manufacturers of clean cook stoves, Burn Manufacturing. One of Cheshire Disability Services Kenya’s (CDSK) flagship programs is called EmployAble and one of the core activities is to place persons with disabilities (PWDs) into sustainable and equitable employment. Getting appointments with HR departments to talk about employing PWDs isn’t easy in Kenya (or likely anywhere for that matter!), but when you have an “in”, sometimes that’s all you need. So, we leveraged my “in” and got the appointment with BURN HR. We learnt about their motivations for hiring PWDs, the different roles they have and gained agreement to move the conversation forward.


I share this story because there have been times on this assignment when I felt defeated, like I have nothing to add, as though I’m going to leave without making a real impact (I know my fellow PULSER’s can relate). Then I tell myself, if even one person gets a job as a result of the introduction that I was able to facilitate, I will have won at this PULSE game. So, the key take away is, if you don’t have the answer, find someone that does and leverage your relationships to help open doors. Sometimes that’s all you need to do to make an impact.

Big thanks to all the GSKers who have supported me on my journey to date, literally too many to list but you know who you are and I’m forever grateful. Asante Sana!

Burn 2



  1. So true Adrienne. When I left the US, 2 Nigerian colleagues of mine at GSK offered the help of their families here in Abuja, Nigeria. One resulted in our accommodation the other got me in contact with people at the Govt. Health Insurance program, which was helpful in me coming up with some very interesting business models for my assignment. Yesterday I met with the local GSK field sales force and they’ve promised to help with provider contacts here. That is one resource I overlooked for a while and very important to my project. So, hello! contacts…

    1. Thanks for commenting and sharing your positive experience too Elizabeth! I’m so happy to hear you’re doing well!

  2. Adrienne, as a PULSE alumni, I completely understand that defeatist feeling. We all have it sometime during our PULSE journey. Know that you are making a difference, just by being there and sharing what you know. We take our knowledge for granted but trust me when I say that your NGO welcomes your insights and sharing. When you are finished and reflect on this experience, your heart and mind will be full and at peace with what you accomplished. Hindsight is a wonderful thing; it gives you the opportunity to look back and relish in your accomplishments.

    1. Hello Debbie! So nice to hear from you. Thank you for commenting on my blog and sharing your wisdom. I know you and my other PULSE alum contacts warned me of this feeling but living it is something else all together. That said, with every day that passes I feel more and more that I’m not the only one benefiting from this experience. Stay tuned for more Debbie!

  3. Hey I totally relate to this … wondering what I’m bringing at times, but then so energised when I’m given positive feedback and embraced by the team for what I bringing (even though I’ve struggled to see it myself). I think so much work at NGOs is done through networks/relationships … we can do more of that at GSK… I’ve been cooking up a potential blog on that! Finally … burn, baby burn!! 😄

  4. Good job Adrienne. You are doing well and we would not hesitate to support you do more. If you need more support, please give us a shout at the local GSK office at Likoni Road, Nairobi.

    1. Thank You Bernard! GSK Kenya has been so good to me since I landed in Nairobi. I’ll be on site September 26 for the Global Inclusion Week event that Wangu and I are putting on with sales and marketing for my NGO’s partner organizations. It’s going to be a great day! I’ll send you the details if you don’t already have them from Wangu.

  5. Great blog Adrienne, thanks for sharing this! I am sure all PULSE 10 family (including myself) can totally relate to this at one point or another during our volunteering time. All the best and keep us posted ;))

  6. “if you don’t have the answer, find someone that does and leverage your relationships to help open doors.” I love that. We should use it in future PULSE learning materials 🙂

  7. Hello Adrienne, good on you for looking for the open doors! Sometimes it’s the accumulation of small individual differences that make the biggest difference. Hope you are enjoying Nairobi with the other Pulse 10ers!

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