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Alumni

Passions: Kyra Huntington, HBA ’11

  • Pat Morden
  • |
  • Sep 1, 2015

When a career in consulting was wearing her down, Kyra Huntington, HBA ’11, re-energized by volunteering her skills for six months in Tanzania, Africa with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Passions: Kyra Huntington, HBA ’11
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I love consulting but after three years of working on some intense projects, I needed a change of pace.

My managing partner encouraged me to apply to the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). CHAI was founded by Bill Clinton in 2002 to help save the lives of millions of people living with HIV by scaling up anti-retroviral treatments in developing countries. Since then the organization has expanded to include other health challenges, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal health.

I volunteered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, one of the largest cities in East Africa. My mandate was to help the local Malaria Control Program establish its total financial need for the next five years, apply for funding from the Global Fund, and develop a strategy to deliver interventions and monitor their effects.

The biggest challenge I had to overcome was the cultural difference in the workplace. I was chomping at the bit to make progress, but was surprised at the slow pace of decision making and activity in the local government offices. Tanzanians place high value on their personal relationships and cultural practices. Eventually I grew to accept and appreciate their different values.

One of the most important lessons I took from my time in Africa was that although an experience can be extremely challenging and while I might not enjoy every minute of it, I will eventually adapt. When I first arrived in Tanzania everything seemed so different. On the worst days, we’d call it TIA—“This is Africa!” But eventually I learned to adapt to East Africa, and slowly Dar es Salaam became my home.

I don’t have a medical degree—I’m just a management consultant with an HBA—but I was able to add value in ways that I never would have imagined. There were several times when the government had important documents to get out very quickly, and they needed someone to get it done. I saw my skill set being leveraged very clearly.

Part of the Ivey Pledge that I took was to contribute to the society in which I operate. CHAI gave me an opportunity to do just that: to leverage the skill set that I have developed, and give back to the global society.

Photo: Brett Beadle
Art Direction: Greg Salmela, Aegis