An Acasus global meeting journal entry by Sue Katherine Gerber.
(Sue advises Acasus on technical issues in the health sector)
Our founder, Fenton Whelan, invited me to an all-staff meeting in Dubai. It was the first in two and a half years, which sounded exciting, so (of course) I said yes. I thought I was very lucky to attend a global event on my first day and meet the whole team at once. I had met some of them earlier on,
they were all effective problem-solvers: smart, creative, productive and professional.
I imagined meeting the entire team would be an amazing experience with all that talent gathered in one place.
I had been following the achievements of Acasus for many years, beginning with their work in education and health in Pakistan, then in South America and Africa. Their collaborative work in DRC, Chad, Somalia and Afghanistan has provided the tools and practice for better data and overall management that has led to improved programs reaching larger populations.
Acasus in action
Tara Mounce, our Head of People, sent us the draft agenda, which clearly showed that this was much more than a meeting! There were multiple learning sessions from morning until the evening. There was also structured space and time allocated for us to get to know and learn from each other, and to create new ideas and directions. I did my “homework”, reviewed the Acasus website, our projects, as well as staff photos and bios. I am glad I did it, we have such a diverse team!
The diversity of Acasus colleagues
The ten-year anniversary celebration of Acasus was also on the agenda. I remember meeting Fenton and Emma for the first time nine years ago; we went for coffee in Lahore, and they explained the way they were engaging with the Department of Health in Punjab at the time. I was inspired by their approach to solving large-scale problems, which, as I remember, involved gathering good data, using technology to support documentation, careful reviews to understand the gaps and taking on difficult discussions that led to decisions driving positive change. Importantly, they had a champion who was a catalyst for this change.
The Pakistan team with government colleagues in the early years
I arrived at the hall early on the day of the global meeting and watched as over a hundred people from all over the world filled up the room. Many of us met there for the first time. I enjoyed listening to the introductions, and I felt relaxed until I realised I was at the wrong table! I quickly made my way to my new tablemates. The room was filled with energy and enthusiasm, and I learned so much. The day flew by.
By the end of the second day, I felt part of the team, and I watched a wonderful video of colleagues and partners sharing their thoughts on Acasus over the last ten years. It made me reflect on their past achievements and new ideas I heard over the past few days. I heard they were able to make an impact, they were valued partners, the work was transformational, they could leverage data for decision-making. In short, they can make change happen. These are not just words, but words put into action:
That is Acasus. And I am so happy to be part of it.