Internship Report: CHAI, South Africa

The Management Information Systems final ends and I head to the roof for a post-final surprise celebration hosted by the ESADE Better Halves.  I am surrounded by drinks, food and friends, a feeling of euphoria runs through the crowd.  Officially second year students, we can finally choose our own classes and are one step closer to becoming future business leaders.

To achieve that goal, I am spending my next 3 months as a summer intern with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). I am excited and anxious, but most of all, eager to begin my summer of work.  For reference, I know nothing about healthcare! My background is in real estate finance with an emphasis on the small business sector. For the last 9 months, I have worked with my business school colleagues to analyze cases concerning GE, Starbucks and Walmart.  With these cases and a full docket of classes under my belt, I can’t wait to apply my education and experience to the internship.

Fast forward 3 days…

On my 3rd day with CHAI, I found myself in Maluti, South Africa, at a Community Health Center; the furthest possible place from any of those multi-national companies that dominated our case studies (and fairly distant from the rest of South Africa for that matter). Despite the unique territory, I found myself immediately referencing ESADE coursework and applying it to the operational issues at hand. I was ecstatic to discover that the relevance of our studies extends beyond the board room and into a remote South African health clinic!

The general operations of a rural South African health center can benefit from the same style of business analysis and implementation as the multinational corporations.  In fact, many of the lean operations initiatives we discussed in class were already being applied by the facility out of necessity, but without the fancy jargon.  It is truly inspiring!! Over the coming days and weeks, we will continue to interview and analyze more health centers around the country in an effort to compile a list of best practices.  The goal is to create maximum impact in the fight against HIV with minimal investment (sounds fairly business savvy to me!).

It’s great to be working again, especially in a fulfilling position with bright and ambitious colleagues. Most of all, I am excited to be learning in one of the most engaging environments I have found myself in yet.

“The power of one is, above all things, the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated.” – Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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