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  • MIT Healthcare Financing Lecture

    6:07 pm on May 14, 2014 | 3 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , MIT, ,

    mit_crest_logoIf 2014 had a nar­ra­tive arc, it would look like a series of sprints — from obtain­ing visas, start­ing a new job, mov­ing apart­ments to being in a new indus­try — all leav­ing me just enough room to catch my breath before the next leg begins. Amongst the many life-sprints that have occurred, one par­tic­u­lar sprint has been most unex­pected and reward­ing — both per­son­ally and professionally.

    It started in Dec, 2013 — when I received an email from a friend whose paths I crossed dur­ing my Nairobi days in late 2012. She offered the oppor­tu­nity for me to become a guest lec­turer at MIT Sana’s spring course on Global Health Infor­mat­ics to Improve the Qual­ity of Care. They were look­ing for some­one to speak about financ­ing in health­care in rural/resource-limiting set­tings. Truth­fully, it has never crossed my mind that I would be lec­tur­ing at MIT espe­cially at this stage of my career/life, but embrac­ing Sheryl Sandberg’s phi­los­o­phy of “if you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on!”, I accepted and found my way to the MIT cam­pus in the begin­ning of March to deliver my lecture.

    The course itself  “focuses on inno­va­tions in infor­ma­tion sys­tems to accel­er­ate improve­ments of health out­comes in devel­op­ing coun­tries. The course will focus not only on tech­nol­ogy and mHealth as it applies to global health, but also on broader issues nec­es­sary for the suc­cess­ful deploy­ment of infor­ma­tion sys­tems such as qual­ity of care, dis­ease bur­den, and project man­age­ment. This is the fourth iter­a­tion of the course, which is a col­lab­o­ra­tive offer­ing from Sana, MIT, Part­ners in Health, Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health, Har­vard Med­ical School, and a net­work of inter­na­tional part­ner aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions located around the globe.” — MIT Sana

    Dur­ing my lec­ture, 400 stu­dents were watch­ing from 45 loca­tions around the world. The lec­ture itself was a very basic intro­duc­tion to financ­ing as most of the stu­dents do not have finance or invest­ing back­grounds. It will also be turned into an offi­cial MOOC edX/MITx cur­ricu­lum in 2015! If you’re inter­est­ing in watch­ing my lec­ture, it is avail­able online.

    ****

    Thank you Sarah, for this amaz­ing opportunity.

     
  • Nairobi Terrorism and the Hierarchy of Trauma

    3:32 pm on September 30, 2013 | 0 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Conflict, , Kenya, , ,

    Talk­ing about evil is hard. It involves at least two para­doxes. Here’s the first. On the one hand, to denounce evil is an eth­i­cal act. It is to affirm our deep­est val­ues and to com­mit our­selves to pre­vent­ing acts that dehu­man­ize oth­ers. On the other hand, to denounce evil can be an uneth­i­cal act. It is a way of demo­niz­ing; it is, pre­cisely, to dehu­man­ize another. Here’s the sec­ond para­dox: On the one hand, we need to the con­cept of evil to philo­soph­i­cally and eth­i­cally dis­tin­guish acts that shock our con­sciences, acts that are not ade­quately encom­passed by words like bad, wicked, or wrong. The con­cept of evil clar­i­fies. On the other hand, the con­cept of evil con­fuses, pre­vents think­ing. We imag­ine evil is other than human, beyond under­stand­ing, almost mys­ti­cal. This lets us off the hook, lets us deny our own capac­ity for evil, and stops us from ana­lyz­ing the very human, very com­mon causes of it.

    - James Dawes: The Guts of Atrocity

    I have never quite known what to react in the wake of tragedy. Say­ing too much almost feels too opin­ion­ated, and say­ing too lit­tle almost feels to insin­cere. I remem­ber my first encounter five years ago with a per­sonal tragedy and death was uncon­trol­lable laugh­ter. Appar­ently my ‘cop­ing’ mech­a­nism then, was to try to see the humor­ous side of the story. Highly inap­pro­pri­ate. But now, over the past week, I am find­ing no humor that can help me cope as I watch Kenya bal­ance a grow­ing sad­ness of a nation, the anger of their cit­i­zens and the anguish of loved ones as ter­ror­ists stormed an upscale mall in Nairobi claim­ing over 60 lives.

    As emails, phone calls, texts and social media updates came pour­ing in, the irony is not lost on me on how tragedies hap­pen every­day around the world and yet, why is it that this one just seems so much more real. As my emo­tions slide between the con­tin­uum of “why” and “shock”, a strange ver­sion of this Hier­ar­chy of Trauma began to emerge. As I scroll through the news for updates on Nairobi on that day, and through­out the week, it dawned on me that hun­dreds of peo­ple die and are affected by con­flicts around the world. In Pak­istan, 81 peo­ple per­ished in a church sui­cide bomb­ing. In Nige­ria, over 500 per­ished in ter­ror­ist related vio­lence in the north of the coun­try, and the on-going Syria cri­sis has claimed tens of thou­sands of lives. Coun­tries and com­mu­ni­ties that I can’t even com­pre­hend who and where — are suf­fer­ing. Yet, why my heart aches the most for my Nairobi home and only for a fleet­ing moment of empa­thy for the news in Pakistan.

    And sud­denly it struck me, trauma and grief isn’t a com­pe­ti­tion or a hier­ar­chy. We each grieve for dif­fer­ent losses, in our own way and in time. There is no trauma that is supe­rior to, lesser, greater, less shock­ing, bet­ter cov­ered, or any other com­par­a­tive phrase, than the suf­fer­ing of any indi­vid­ual or com­mu­nity. All we can do, is know that even if your expe­ri­ence does not have a chap­ter in other sto­ries of con­flict and trauma, it still a part of our story as human­ity as a whole.

    Think­ing of you.

    ***

    Selected pieces that pro­vide dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on the Nairobi incident:

    1) Gen­eros­ity of cit­i­zens in dona­tions for the victims

    2) NY Times on the Value of Suffering 

    3) A Trib­ute to a Friend: Ravi

    4) Aung San Suu Kyi: the Free­dom from Fear

    5) A beau­ti­ful piece in The Nation on forgiveness

    6) Nan­jala Nyabola in Al-Jazeera on Keep­ing the Nairobi inci­dent in perspective 

    7) An inter­view with author, James Dawes on his new book: Evil Men - a col­lec­tion of dia­logues with war crim­i­nals from the Sec­ond Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945)

     
  • How I Read

    4:15 pm on August 9, 2013 | 4 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , reading

    7/365: Currently Reading

    This post is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to my nor­mal posts, but thought that I would share a very rel­e­vant on-going theme in my life and how I’m going about it: read­ing and writ­ing. The moti­va­tion behind this was spurred by the shut­ting down of my beloved Google Reader which has served me faith­fully for the last few years as my main por­tal of con­sum­ing infor­ma­tion. I ago­nized over what could take its place and after read­ing this post on on How to Read on Far­nam Street Blog (arguably my favourite go-to web­site), decided to improve how I am con­sum­ing and shar­ing my infor­ma­tion and to use some tools more inten­tion­ally than I have in the past.

    Tra­di­tion­ally, I’ve used my Google reader as my pri­mary Inspec­tional Read­ing method, and as a way to keep up with news and thought lead­ers in spe­cific indus­tries. I still read on aver­age a book per week (yes, some­times I do slip up!) but haven’t been very good at going a step fur­ther in Syn­topi­cal Read­ing. Also, in either case, I haven’t been the best at keep­ing track of arti­cles that I really enjoy, or dug deeper into them for more Ana­lyt­i­cal Read­ing. I’ve used delicious.com half-heartedly to save these arti­cles I like, but still — not good enough. Hence, in efforts to be bet­ter at track­ing and shar­ing, I’ve divided my infor­ma­tion con­sump­tion into the fol­low­ing three cat­e­gories based on the How to Read post:

    1) Inspec­tional Reading 

    - I’ve migrated over to Feedly in replace­ment of my Google Reader and although am still get­ting used to the inter­face, I do like the design, and the process of migrat­ing over has forced me to cut down about 20% of my RSS feeds so I can derive more focused con­tent. I still have WAY too much feeds for my lik­ing, so I need to cut down at least another 30% more.

    - My twit­ter feed also serves as a way for me to keep up with news that I skim through on a fre­quent basis.

    2) Ana­lyt­i­cal Reading

    - I’m going to start using Pocket a lot more to fil­ter through from my skim­ming of my Feedly and Twit­ter feeds to arti­cles that really catch my eye. (It helps that I am a speed reader so can skim very quickly through large quan­ti­ties of information)

    - Findings.com helps me cap­ture key ideas that I can revisit and cap­tures quotes that I really like for arti­cles online.

    - Tum­blr will do the same for for me as find­ings does, but for books that I read. I just to make sure that Read­mill is pulling infor­ma­tion con­sis­tently from my Kin­dle highlights.

    - In terms of ‘sav­ing’ arti­cles that I like, I’m test­ing out Potluck, which so far is under­whelm­ing, but what I like about it is that I can see what other friends are read­ing as well. I might return to delicious.com if the plat­form doesn’t pick up, as I like deli­cious’ hash­tag fea­ture (makes sort­ing and search­ing so much easier)

    3) Syn­topi­cal Reading

    - I find that this type of read­ing is best done when I force myself to pen down my thoughts and hence, will be blog­ging more about my read­ing and cross ref­er­enc­ing it with arti­cles that I read. I’ve debated migrat­ing over to Medium but haven’t reached that tip­ping point yet.

    - I’m cut­ting back on my One Book per Week and instead, mak­ing sure that I read more delib­er­ately and aim for a book per 2 — 3 weeks and inten­tion­ally what I’m read­ing on this web­site. I find that I’ve read so many books, but have missed out on the value that each of them pro­vide as after a while, they all blur together. I’m mak­ing it a habit to reflect after each book and write down my thoughts on the book while it’s still fresh.

    P/s: I’ve updated my What I’m Read­ing list, and am open to sug­ges­tions on how I am best tracking/sharing books that I want to read. 

     
  • Leading Change in Emerging Health Markets

    7:53 am on May 8, 2013 | 0 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , health, ifc,

    About a month and a half ago, I was in Istan­bul attend­ing a global pri­vate health con­fer­ence hosted by the Inter­na­tional Finance Cor­po­ra­tion (IFC) and John Hop­kins Med­i­cine Inter­na­tional. The event brought together global lead­ers in the pri­vate health indus­try to have share ideas, knowl­edge and lessons in the indus­try. Par­tic­i­pants were mainly senior management/CEOs across the health value chain from health ser­vice providers to phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal & med­ical tech­nol­ogy man­u­fac­tur­ers to investors in emerg­ing mar­kets. On top of the con­fer­ence, my team orga­nized a sep­a­rate panel ses­sion for health providers in sub-Saharan Africa.

    ifc banner

    I just wanted to share some of my notes and key take­aways from the con­fer­ence as I was really struck by the dis­cus­sions of the world’s lead­ing health providers and how it feeds into my work as an investor in emerg­ing mar­kets. Essen­tially, how I should be look­ing at the over­all mar­ket and types of deals I should be focus­ing on. There were two pre­sen­ta­tions in par­tic­u­lar that I would highly rec­om­mend going through, which is Credit Suisse’s Cap­i­tal Mar­kets Per­spec­tive on the health­care ser­vices sec­tor and IFC’s lessons from invest­ing in hospitals.

    • Health is a major dri­ver of GDP growth in OECD coun­tries aver­ag­ing approx­i­mately 7.3% as a per­cent­age of total GDP.
    • There is an upward trend of life sci­ence tools and med­ical equip­ment providers in terms of performance
    • When com­par­ing trad­ing val­u­a­tions (EV/EBITDA), EMEA and RoW com­pa­nies sig­nif­i­cantly out­per­form Amer­i­can com­pa­nies in terms of rev­enue growth, par­tic­u­larly in Acute Care provision
    • Banks are shrink­ing their lend­ing port­fo­lios par­tic­u­larly in SSA
    • M&A activ­ity will con­tinue to increase in a frag­mented mar­ket with pri­vate equity play­ing an impor­tant role in sec­tor consolidation
    • Health­care ser­vices are trend­ing from inpa­tient to out­pa­tient, inva­sive to non-invasive, and from treat­ment to prevention
    • The global finan­cial cri­sis slowed growth rates of com­pa­nies in IFC’s port­fo­lio, but none expe­ri­enced a drop in sales — indi­cat­ing that hos­pi­tal busi­nesses are resilient but not immune to the global finan­cial crisis
    • IFC’s rev­enue pro­jec­tions were rea­son­ably close to actual, on aver­age erring 5% lower than actual (which is impressive!)
    • The health mar­ket in SSA is an SME mar­ket, hence a need for smaller deal sizes, or a con­sol­i­da­tion of deals for increased access to financing

    Over­all, the con­fer­ence left me feel­ing uplifted, but also a great sense of urgency in terms of the work that I am try­ing to do. The con­fer­ence was IFC’s 5th annual health­care con­fer­ence and am already look­ing for­ward to the next one.

     
  • How are We Standing with the Poor?

    3:05 pm on February 18, 2013 | 3 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,

    The more some­one iden­ti­fies with a pro­fes­sion or an “accom­plish­ment” such as an award, the less human he will be (in the clas­si­cal sense). In virtue ethics, the only “excel­lence” worth attain­ing is that of “being human”, with all what it entails (honor, courage, ser­vice, sat­is­fac­tion of pub­lic & pri­vate duties, will­ing­ness to face death, etc.); “achieve­ments” are reduc­tions and alien­ations for lower forms of life.

    IN ANCIENT ROME this was a priv­i­lege reserved for the patri­cian class. They were able to engage in pro­fes­sional activ­i­ties with­out directly iden­ti­fy­ing with them: to write books, lead armies, farm land, or trans­act with­out being a writer, gen­eral, farmer, or mer­chant, but “a man (*vir* rather than *homo*) who” writes, com­mands, farms or trans­acts, as a side activity.

    TODAY, as human­ity got much, much richer, one would have thought that every­one would have access to the priv­i­lege. Instead, I only find it in min­i­mum wage earn­ers who just “make a liv­ing” and feel forced to sep­a­rate their iden­tity from their pro­fes­sion. The higher up in the social lad­der, the more peo­ple derive their iden­tity from their pro­fes­sion and “achieve­ments”. — Nas­sim Taleb

    When I was with Acu­men Fund, we would ask our­selves: How are we stand­ing with the poor? And quite frankly, I wasn’t sure if I even really knew what that meant. For the longest time, I thought it meant putting myself into another person’s per­spec­tive, try­ing to see the world through their eyes and “speak up” for those who didn’t have a voice. And then I came across this post­ing by Nas­sim Taleb, who sep­a­rates out iden­tity and accom­plish­ment and really got me reeval­u­at­ing my def­i­n­i­tion. It also made me real­ize how hard it was, as the higher up the social lad­der you are, the harder it is to dis­tin­guish between iden­tity and accom­plish­ment, the harder it is to relate.

    Stand­ing with the poor is about look­ing beyond pro­fes­sion. Beyond awards and accom­plish­ments. Beyond first impres­sions. Stand­ing with the poor is a reminder to one­self to sep­a­rate the way you look at your­self and oth­ers around you; between their accom­plish­ments and iden­tity. Stand­ing with the poor is about under­stand­ing self-worth, regard­less of what situation/career/social sta­tus you are in.

    And at the end of the day, it all comes back to valu­ing human dignity.

     
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