As PSI seeks to bring care closer to consumers, we’ve committed to helping build global capacity for the development community at large—and PSI specifically. Enter Lynn Smith, our new Chief Human Resources Officer, formerly the Chief Human Resources Officer for Pandora. She is tasked with helping PSI discover and cultivate the talent we need to fulfill our commitments.
IMPACT: Lynn, PSI prides itself on its business perspective. You come from the corporate sector. How do you see the skill sets of the corporate sector overlapping with what it will take to reach universal health coverage?
LYNN SMITH: As I began my candidacy for the HR role at PSI, I was intrigued by the combination of business savvy coupled with passion for the mission—providing healthcare globally. Having worked in both nonprofit and for-profit environments, I believe that the basic tenets of talent remain consistent. The skill set that I have seen since joining PSI is quite similar to what I have experienced in the corporate sector—determination and focus in support of a very deliberate and clearly articulated strategy. A strategy that remains consistent with PSI’s mission while recognizing the changing environment. Great talent is a linchpin to the success of delivering on our strategy—the right talent, in the right place, focused on the right results. The ability to execute with excellence is key.
IMPACT: What do NGOs working in developing countries need to do to build people and leadership right now?
LS: The ability to “build people and leadership” is critical to the success of any organization. There is always a shortage of the right mix of talent needed, regardless of the industry or the environment. In developing countries, this can be even more pronounced, given educational, economic, and resource constraints. Identifying ways to build a strong internal bench is a first step. Are there ways to provide visibility, exposure, training to individuals internally? Are there opportunities to provide external support to internal team members? Are there ways to leverage relationships and partnerships to identify external talent?
IMPACT: What skills does the development professional of today need to acquire given the shrinking footprint for aid dollars?
LS: We know that funding sources are shifting, and the landscape has become far more competitive. I believe that the development professional of today needs to be able to think innovatively, demonstrate resilience, and explore new ways to secure funding. This requires a move from managing opportunities that come our way to actively seeking opportunities that might not be readily apparent.
IMPACT: As PSI launches a new strategic outlook, reorienting to consumer powered healthcare, what do you think is needed from our leadership at PSI? LS: Willingness to role model, engage, and communicate along the way. Being able to continue to drive home our mission of making it easier for people in the developing world to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire. Continuing to seek forums to drive home “the what and the why” and most importantly, how all PSI-ers play a part in this reorientation. There are many opportunities for PSI-ers to participate and stay connected in this transformation through cross-functional project teams, working groups, one-on-one dialogues, and larger audience communication. Leaders at all levels in the organization play an important role in helping cascade information to their teams.