Making the Global Goals Our Business

By Ahsiya Posner Mencin, PhD, Director of Global Volunteer Programs for GSK
Apr 13, 2016 2:15 PM ET

Making the Global Goals Our Business

Not everyone gets to live their dream job, but I feel extremely lucky and grateful that I do. I lead GSK’s global employee volunteering efforts, including PULSE, our flagship program.

PULSE is a skills-based volunteering program that matches up to 100 high-performing employees each year with a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in need of their expertise for up to six months full-time. It’s like the Peace Corps for professionals. Whether a doctor, scientist, supply chain whiz, communication/ IT/finance guru, or some other kind of expert, these volunteers donate their skills to the NGO, train NGO staff to build capacity, and develop their leadership skills in the process of working to solve healthcare or education challenges at home and abroad. Then our volunteers bring what they learned back to GSK.

This year, PULSE is applying a new lens to our work through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Global Goals don’t change the focus of our PULSE work, but rather give us a common language and vocabulary to discuss our objectives and impact alongside others who are working in the global health and development space.

When the SDGs were adopted at the UN Summit last year, they ushered in a wave of positive momentum as businesses, governments, and NGOs continue to explore new ways of working to improve health and wellness around the world. The Global Goals are ambitious and worthy, but will require levels of collaboration and innovation like we’ve never seen.

One way we’re seeing new models of collaboration emerge is through IMPACT 2030, a business-led UN initiative that was born in parallel to the SDGs and is dedicated to marshaling the power of corporate skills-based volunteering to advance the achievement of the Global Goals. GSK is a Founding Partner of IMPACT 2030, so we have a special responsibility to make it successful.

Today, during my remarks at the Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Summit USA, I shared a new collaboration that GSK is spearheading with SAP (the global software company) and Partners in Health (PIH).

Together, in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, we’re pioneering a new kind of volunteer partnership in Kigali, Rwanda with the creation of a Rwandan Center of Excellence. We will build local Rwandan healthcare, regulatory, and clinical trial capacity as GSK employees bring our healthcare knowledge and insight, while SAP employees bring their data management and software programming expertise. We believe this first-of-its-kind alignment should unlock shared healthcare value while promoting strong livelihoods in Rwanda. Our pioneering GSK-SAP-PIH collaboration aims to deliver on SDGs 3 and 4, and demonstrate that entrepreneurial, collaborative flexible approaches can drive more synergy and greater results.

This work is just beginning as the teams will hit the ground in July. We’ll be sure to share the progress along the way!