Organization Design Strategies: A Look at the Global One Health Initiative GAP Project in Ethiopia and Kenya

Rolling out of bed after finals week at the end of our second semester in the MBA program, it was both exciting and nerve-racking to be packing for a three-week trip for Ethiopia and Kenya. After making it through final group projects and coursework, I kept wondering if I was truly prepared for our in-country portion of the GAP global consulting project. On May 4, 2018, most of the members of my GAP team met at the Columbus airport for our journey to Addis Ababa. We were headed to our client’s regional office that was recently opened at the end of 2017. Our client, GOHi, is an NGO based at The Ohio State University focused on education, research, training and outreach programs to build capacity toward a global One Health approach.

My amazing GAP team!

Before leaving for Ethiopia, our team of seven MBA students met with GOHi several times to work through project objectives and develop a plan of action during the in-country experience. We were working toward developing recommendations for their organization structure and a list of potential partners for GOHi to establish a sustainable presence in the region. The months leading up to the trip, we identified organizations with similar missions to connect with in-country and learn more about their strategy and operations on the ground. We prepared interview guides, developed spreadsheets, laughed late into the evenings in Gerlach Hall, made nicknames for ourselves and bonded over Graeter’s Ice Cream.

After all this time, May 4th finally came around, and we embarked on our journey. Our team spent the first week in Addis Ababa getting to know the GOHi team and beginning our interviews with similar organizations working in the region. We were able to walk to the office every morning from the hotel where we stayed, passing by the ongoing building construction and liveliness of the capital city. The GOHi staff was extremely welcoming and supportive, inviting us to learn about their daily activities, taking us to a traditional Ethiopian lunch and dinner where we tasted our first authentic injera and later experienced the traditional dance of eskista, and allowing us to observe project sites and learn more about the on-the-ground project work taking place.

We met with organizations like Amref Health Africa, PSI Ethiopia and the Ethiopian branch of the CDC. We learned about the importance of maintaining relationships with government entities to gain support for organization success, we identified potential partnership opportunities and recommendations for increased visibility and flexibility in organization structure. 

Meeting with GOHi team and PSI Ethiopia

After our week in Addis Ababa, we traveled to Kenya to further our research with organizations based in Nairobi. There, we met with and learned from organizations like the International Livestock Research Institute, World Animal Protection and the University of Nairobi. Although most of our time was spent in meetings, we had time for a quick weekend safari to Maasai Mara as well!

After a week in Nairobi, we flew back to Addis to bring together our final report and presentation to the GOHi team. Throughout the entire project, we had established a strong group dynamic that enabled a strong final product for the client, one that they are still using today! Although a short trip, I found this to be an amazing experience, full of learning, the chance to build new relationships and the opportunity to consult for an organization working toward an important mission.

Beautiful sunrise on our last day in Addis!

A huge shout out here to my amazing Fisher MBA GAP team: Aziza Allen, Ariel Cooper, John Cox, Kaitlyn Kendall-Sperry and Obi Nnebedum

And to the GOHi staff and leadership team: Wondwossen Gebreyes, Emia Oppenheim, Ashley Bersani, Getnet Yimer, Kassahun Asmare, Tigist Endashaw, Tewodros Abebe and Joshua Amimo

Red Carpet Reflections

Little did I expect that Red Carpet this year would be just as an amazing experience as it was last year! This time, from the perspective of a current student and point person to welcome in part of the admitted class, I realized how much fun it is to share about Columbus and the program experience so far. Also, through other current students sharing their stories, I was reminded of many opportunities to experience this amazing city!

During the welcome reception at the Ohio Stadium, we learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes to game day and were reinvigorated with excitement for next season! Student ticket info will be coming this summer, and we can’t wait to buy the Big 10 package again. One thing to look forward to for all home games are the great Fisher tailgates at Fisher Commons. Not only an apartment complex to look into, Fisher Commons is in a central location to bring many current students together.

I also helped coordinate the significant others/partners/spouses (SOPS) breakfast on Saturday morning at Red Carpet, and I learned some great tips for managing time between work/school/home! For example, many current SOPS put together shared calendars for each other to find times to spend together. My husband and I try to eat dinner together almost every evening and spend at least one day of the weekend away from work and study. On the next nice weekend day, we plan to check out the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, while doing some background research for one of the consulting projects I am working on for the Professional Development core class.

Finally, Red Carpet weekend came to a close with our women’s breakfast on Sunday morning. We have a strong group of women coming into the program, and I cannot wait to see how Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) and our Forte Foundation connections grow into next year. I had a great time connecting with classmates at the Forte conference last summer (see photo below) and hope to see many again this summer! Also, I hope to see a few admitted students at our first Fisher Women’s Conference on April 6th!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend, and I am looking forward to our incoming class next year!

Power to my core team!

At Fisher, incoming MBA students are assigned to a core team that will tackle projects together. As the year comes to a close, this is a huge shout-out to my amazing core team a.k.a. Team 9! Neethi, Adam, Sangyoun (Shin) and Andrew have made the core team adventure a valuable experience from the start!

Beginning with team announcements during pre-term and into our first team-building exercises, we took time to get to know each other and have fun. During pre-term, before classes began for the semester, we had the chance to compete in a mini-case competition and take on a ropes course! Not only did we win the case across the teams presenting in our room– we also won the photo contest from the ropes course (see one of the winners below)! We spent these challenges taking time to get to know each other’s backgrounds and not taking things too seriously, resulting in effective teamwork and great times!

Throughout the year, we have worked hard to keep each other in mind outside of class projects… from having birthday celebrations to venting about the internship search to sharing favorite snacks. Most importantly, we are all very lucky to have Neethi who brings delicious snacks for our group meetings and Shin who brings some of his favorite snacks from Korea (see below).

Overall, we stay motivated, but have fun while we’re working on assignments together! This semester, we’ve discovered the power of communication and working as a virtual team. With interviews ramping up, along with group projects, we have realized the power of working together remotely.

After things die down in a few weeks, we’re looking forward to a celebration together over Korean BBQ! From case analyses to marketing plans, we have found ourselves frustrated, giggling, sweating from spicy ramen snacks, and in deep concentration to meet deadlines among all of the other activities going on at school. It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience, and I wouldn’t trade my core team for another!

Experiential Learning in the Community

One of the main reasons I decided to pursue the full-time MBA at Fisher was because of the many experiential learning opportunities offered, especially the GAP international consulting experience. However, little did I know that other opportunities would present themselves even within our first semester here!

One afternoon, while exploring the events on our Event Hub webpage, I stumbled across an information session to get involved with “Fisher Serves” and engage in a consulting project for a local non-profit. Fisher Serves is a student-run organization committed to promoting awareness and connecting Fisher students to service-based opportunities in the community. The information session I signed up for was about working  on a consulting project for the Columbus Museum of Art.

After attending the session, I realized what an opportunity this would be to not only get more involved in my new community and engage in the art scene of the city, but also build relationships with students outside of my core team and apply some of the key concepts we’ve been learning in class.

http://www.columbusmuseum.org/host-your-event/plan-your-event/

After a group meeting and tour of the museum with museum staff, we’re working in two teams to help improve museum event revenues and the café experience. It’s been a great opportunity working with the Fisher Serves team and we’re excited to build out strategies for the museum moving forward. Hopefully, you will see some of our new ideas come to fruition at the museum next year!