VOLUNTEERS STORY WALL
Role: Director of Operations
Posting Period: Nov., 2013 through Oct., 2016 (36 months)
Reported to: Dr. Perry Jansen, Executive Director
Prof. Skills: Executive Leadership, Administration,
Financial Management, HR Management,
Information Technology Services,
Facilities Management, Supply Chain
Management Project Management
- Primary Health Care
- HIV/AIDS Care
- Community Health
- Family Planning
- Inpatient Wards
- Day Surgery
- Rural Medical Centre
Main Entrance Road Sign
Medical Centre Main Building and Ward
120 Staff Members, Medical & Support
Moyo Clinic (free services) Waiting Room
Remodeled Main Patient Reception
Dalitso Clinic (paying patients) Waiting Room
Mphatso - Finance Manager
Finance Team soon after Arrival
2 Bedroom Cottage Accommodation for Posting
Executive Leadership Team: Andy,John,Perry, Dan
Dr. Jones examines young patient - village house call
Village Follow-up Visit on Motorcycles
Andy Training PIH Staff
Operations Management Team: Doreen, Joseph, John, Zione, George
Man on Bicycle carrying Firewood
Andy in Dugout Canoe - Lake Malawi
Andy with Head Nurse and VCT Counsellor
Andy with Operations Management with farewell book gifts
Operations Management express their Thanks
ELT with PIH Board of Directors
More Canadian doctors arrive to assist Dr. Jansen
Birds of Malawi - Bohemian Bee Eater
Staff Farewell Party given for Andy's 3-yr Volunteer Service
Andy & his wife Sonya and their 3 Children
Andy’s Story of Volunteer Service
My story is a bit unique on this “Story Wall” as it’s the first one! It’s actually the story that laid the foundation for this unique Canadian society. Hands and Feet International was borne out of my personal experience serving as Operations Director for Partners in Hope, in Lilongwe, Malawi. If I could have as much fun and fulfillment out of what I did there, surely I could find a way to help other professionals like myself also have a similar or even better experience! While I had done the “cookie cutter” group short term missions several times through my local church, I never felt that I had really accomplished something unique and something that really took advantage of my business experience gained though my many years in industry. It was the first time I could really say that my passion to serve and my business competencies came together in a very unique opportunity. Having lived and worked in Malawi as a family eight years earlier, I knew the country, people, culture, and also knew that there was a great need for quality, affordable healthcare. Public healthcare delivery in Malawi continued to face many challenges, especially since the AIDS epidemic hit them full on shortly after the turn of the 21st century.
When the opportunity presented itself at Partners in Hope through my friend Dr. Perry Jansen, I never understood at the time, just how impactful my business skills and experience would be to this organization. I was a an Engineer, not a Doctor! But what I quickly learned after arriving and settling in was that like most service delivery organizations in the third world, the core services that are going out the front door and serving needy people in the community are mostly happening with a high level of quality, care and in general terms meet the intended needs their mission set out to achieve. But it was what was happening (or not happening!) behind the scenes, in the back office is where I learned I could make a major difference and bring my skills and competencies to take the organization to a whole new level. This back office had some of the basics set up but was seriously lacking policy, strategy, competencies, process integration, inter and intra-departmental communication proficiency and needed a major injection of how to work efficiently and effectively. As much as reasonably good medical services were being given to our patients, most front line staff (receptionists, nurses, patient attendants, ambulance drivers, – basically everybody interacting with patients) had never been formally trained in how to deliver customer service – consistently and to a high professional level that made our clients want to come back to get more great service. So all of those “gaps” is where my role as Director of Operations focused for the next three years. The latter stages focused on creating a good hand-off to my successor – a local Malawian. And all through the three-year journey I was focused on growing and building the finest senior leaders reaching their fullest potential, through regular coaching, mentoring and basically investing my collective learning’s of what it takes to lead people and teams over the last 35 years.
Here is a brief summary of what I was privileged to be a part of delivering for Partners in Hope over my 36 month volunteer posting engagement as Director of Operations:
- Lead a strategic assessment of the medical center’s operations. Following broad acceptance by the Board of Trustees of the resulting recommendations, lead the implementation of multiple, end-to-end departmental transformations over a two-year period;
- Implemented comprehensive Human Resources policies, systems, and procedures spanning all aspects of talent lifecycle management for a 120 person organization (including medical and administrative positions);
- Implemented comprehensive Financial department services delivery: budget creation and stewardship, authority structures, automated GL and cost center management, performance reporting and analysis, AR/AP and cash flow management, and unqualified external audits 3 years running;
- Overhauled procurement and logistics processes, implementing enhanced sourcing, forecasting, and supplier relationship management;
- Enhanced the service delivery and reliability of Information Technology services (servers, databases, applications, networks, PC’s, security);
- Program Managed the successful implementation of a hospital-wide, electronic integrated patient records, pharmacy, laboratory and inventory management application system;
- Collaborated with my executive peers (Medical, Programs, and Executive directors) to transform the governance and leadership model for effective execution of the organization’s mission.
- Coached and mentored the growth of five senior management Malawian staff heading the Finance, Human Resources, Supply Chain, Facilities and Information Technology departments;
- Designed and implemented a client service excellence program that was delivered to all medical and facilities personnel of the medical center;
- Oversaw the successful implementation of several building expansion projects to enhance the facilities and infrastructure of the medical center; and
- Successfully transitioned the Operations Directorate leadership to a local Malawian executive leader,
I need to mention that my wife Sonya accompanied me on this posting and was instrumental in keeping me focused and encouraged when the challenges of taking on so much systems and process change would often overwhelm me, given the context of the day-to-day living challenges in this developing country coupled with my deep passion to grow senior leaders and pursue a legacy of excellence that would serve the mission of Partners in Hope to truly become a national leader in providing “Quality Healthcare for Everyone” (their vision statement).
My years of progressive senior and executive management of larger departments in national and global organizations gave me the business process acumen I needed to lead the policy and process redesign effort and pursue integrated, standardized systems that could scale with the growth vision of the organization.
The times spent coaching each of my five department heads of the Operations division of the medical centre were personally very gratifying. Being able to watch these junior leaders grow in confidence and competency over the space of three years was nothing short of amazing and also left me with wonderful friendships that we maintain through regular communication to this day. Some of my favorite resources that I used to feed into not only my direct reports but also other senior leaders from other divisions of the Centre were John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, Les Hewitt’s “The Power of Focus” and Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People”. The 36 months provided many opportunities for “OTJ” mentoring and overall I believe that I was able to deposit leadership principles into the lives of these young leaders that will serve them and the organization very well for years to come. What a blessing and privilege to be a part of!
That’s really how I feel about the whole volunteer posting – a privilege and a blessing to have had the opportunity to combine my passion for helping make quality healthcare more accessible to every Malawian, to grow leaders, to transform teams towards their highest performance, with an organization that needed a “make-over” in their back office systems and processes so that they could continue to meet the growth challenges that would afford them to reach their vision.
Some of most rewarding moments I recall during my time with PIH, in addition to seeing transformation in my team’s leadership and competencies progressively get baked into the operational fabric of the organization, was to tag along occasionally on “house calls” out to rural areas surrounding Lilongwe with members of our medical staff and community outreach leaders. Whether going to the home of a single mom struggling with HIV or a child too sick with malaria to be transported to the medical centre, I saw competent medical care being served out with love and compassion. Not only was I able to see patients’ complete recovery in follow-up visits, I was able to see how strength built into the back office and customer service training with our front-line staff begin to pay off with proficiency of service delivery and the promise that we could continue to scale up medical services to take on hundreds and even thousands more needy patients and maintain the quality of care to the highest standard.
As I opened my story, my experience was the first under HFI of what I hope will be hundreds of other Christian professionals getting their hands and feet into action in volunteer service with other service delivery organizations like Partners in Hope, applying their deep business and technical experience and know-how with a personal passion to make a difference in a needy part of the developing world. So I don’t have any suggestions for improvements to HFI’s processes and approaches as they stand today, only to say that I, along with our Directors, have endeavored to take all the learning’s from my posting with PIH in Lilongwe, Malawi and incorporate them into what we hope to be a great launch of our excellent policies, processes, guidelines, templates. All for the purpose to help more people like you reading this story to make a difference like I did! Check out our Opportunities to serve with one of our Partners today!