Creating a Pro Bono Dream Team

The Shared Impact of Multi-Company Pro Bono Teams
Jul 5, 2016 11:40 AM ET

Borderless Blog

Melissa Mattoon is in Ghana, reporting on the inaugural Global Health Corporate Champions—a multi-company cohort of eight professionals from across multiple industries providing pro bono consulting services in Accra, Ghana. Drawing from their collective expertise in management, product sustainability, operations, and finance, the team is spending four weeks embedded in three powerful, social sector health organizations focused on projects designed to increase access to quality healthcare for communities throughout the region.

The Global Health Corporate Champions is an activity of the USAID Global Health Fellows Program II, which is implemented by the Public Health Institute and supported by PYXERA Global. The program addresses immediate and emerging human capital needs in the global health sphere.

By Melissa Mattoon


What do you get when you task a consultant, a scientist, and a marketing specialist from different backgrounds, companies, and countries with solving a complex challenge in a complex environment? In the case of one Global Health Corporate Champion team, you get results.

Over the past eight years, global pro bono programs have become an effective way for companies to build global leaders while also working to address pressing problems faced by communities around the world. Lessons learned on-the-ground help leaders develop the ability to manage in highly complex, rapidly changing, resource constrained environments. Typically, companies send teams of 8 to 12 high-performing employees to partner with local organizations on assignments that aim to enhance local capacity in emerging and frontier markets.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II has pioneered an innovative twist to this pro bono model through the Global Health Corporate Champions (GHCC), a multi-company cohort of business professionals working on the ground in Accra, Ghana.

“Utilizing this unique multi-company cohort to support evidenced-based health interventions builds capacity among this coalition,” said Sharon Rudy, Director, GHFP-II. “This collaboration is made possible by USAID, who provides the underlying support through the Global Health Fellows Program II, while the corporate partners provide the generous pro bono support.”

One of the GHCC teams in Accra includes Austin Cazort from PIMCO, Aubrey Annan from PwC, and Darrell Boverhof from The Dow Chemical Company. The team is currently immersed in a pro bono consulting assignment with the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH), a coordinating body for activities of all registered nonprofit organizations in the health sector in the country. GCNH works with hundreds of member NGOs with the mission of achieving a nation free of disease and ill health.

Drawing from their separate skills and perspectives, the team has spent the past four weeks working to identify organizational challenges, opportunities, and to formulate an effective communication policy that focuses on streamlining both internal and external communications.

"Each of the team members have unique skills that brought something special to the project,” said Samuel Boateng Arthur, the Regional Chairman for Greater Accra for GCNH, “Aubrey helped facilitate our discussion and really come to the core of what our deliverables needed to be. Darrell’s quick analytical skills helped to find clarity on organizational opportunities and challenges. Austin has been able to visualize our processes and organizational structures to ensure accountability and consistency. They came together as a team in a fantastic way.”  

The experience has been equally rewarding for the participants as well, who attribute the multi-company component of the program as enhancing their learning.

“I’ve watched my colleagues confidently recommend a new idea and then, immediately seek feedback,” said Austin, “The phrase “let me pause for feedback” is an incredibly powerful tool that has allowed our team to understand and address the underlying issues of our client.”

Having to adjust quickly to a new location and culture is a tremendous learning opportunity for most professionals. Coupling that with asking participants to  collaborate in a team that is bringing different corporate cultures, styles, and approaches to the table can be an effective exercise in building more resilient and flexible professionals.

“The opportunity to work on a multi-company and multi-disciplinary team encouraged us to observe different approaches to communication, thinking, and project management, which provided fresh insights that we can leverage back into our core roles,” said Darrell. 

As the team closes out their month in Accra, GCNH is positive about the path forward.

“We have had teams of consultants in the past, but this experience was different, said Samuel, “This time, the team worked with us to set the agenda and we were able to be involved every step along the way. Their outside perspective has helped us to understand where we need to go from here.”

Stay tuned for more updates from the Global Health Corporate Champions by following along on Twitter and Facebook with #GHCCGhana

To learn more about the Global Health Corporate Champions visit:

The author’s views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.