At this point, you’ve read my resume and know a bit about my budding social enterprise. But I didn’t have the space to explain how I got there, so I’m excited to use this to give you a better understanding of who I am and what I’ve done. Ultimately, I hope to show you both why I’m applying to Sloan and why I think I’d be a great addition to the community in Cambridge.
So, let me tell you a quick story, augmented by some pictures I’ve been fortunate enough to take.
About six hours in, I really started to question the series of life decisions that brought me to where I was — squeezed into one-fourth of a passenger seat in a rickety truck, barreling down a dirt road in the middle of an ‘impenetrable forest’ in southwest Uganda:
How I got there says a lot about me; it even partially explains why I’m applying to Sloan.
Let me explain.
To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, as the Denver fall got crisp in 2012, life kind of started all over again: I quit a good job and turned down a great offer at a small health care-focused startup –- my dream job at the time –- to volunteer at a medium-sized public hospital in eastern Uganda. This had a lot to do with needing a new challenge and a more meaningful career — and if I’m totally honest, it had a little to do with a girl breaking my heart, too.
Eastern Uganda, if you’ve never been, often looks a lot like this:
Serendipity happened, and a series of events led to an opportunity to help an anesthesia-focused social enterprise, Gradian Health Systems, build out its business model and distribution strategy. To do that, I chose to go on a ‘listening tour’ to hear straight from the source — the administrators and anesthetists at dozens of hospitals in the region:
The ‘H’ is Bwindi Community Hospital, which is why I found myself in that rickety truck. Cramped, sweltering, sweaty, and slightly sick from jostling about for hours, I wondered whether I should’ve just accepted that startup job in Denver after all. But eight hours in the truck and a harrowing half hour on the back of a motorcycle later, I finally made it:
I got a tour, quickly happening upon the hospital’s “medical device graveyard,” where substandard second-hand donated medical equipment sat broken and useless:
I was also told that the electricity constantly cut, which is bad for all of the reasons you’d expect it to be bad: anesthesia, suction, lights – everything stops working. And I was shown empty canisters that should’ve been filled with oxygen but weren’t, because the supply was deplorable:
That this hospital, exceptional as it was, still couldn’t provide the standard of care its community deserved bothered me; that well-meaning donors were partly to blame angered me. So I featured Bwindi in an article on second-hand medical device donations for The Atlantic – my small contribution to “doing something” on the issue:
And eventually a donor bought an anesthesia machine designed for the environment – my company’s anesthesia machine – ensuring the hospital would be able to provide safe anesthesia with or without electricity:
The oxygen issue was different, though; there really wasn’t a tenable solution for low-resource hospitals. On visits to dozens of hospitals in a half-dozen countries, the oxygen supply was consistently inconsistent and near-prohibitively expensive:
I want to fix this problem — which brings me here. I know that being a part of the Sloan community would help me build this budding social enterprise into something that has the potential to assist low-resource hospitals in their mandate to provide care for their communities. At Sloan, I’d expect to make classmates into colleagues; learn vital management and leadership skills from Sloan’s professors in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Track; and draw on the financial and operational resources that Sloan, and the wider Cambridge community, offers.