Tonight was my official 'coming out' event as the Chief Technical Officer at Population Services International. The reception was held in conjunction with the Global Health Council annual conference and featured the introduction to the international health community of our new CEO Karl Hofmann, a new member of our Board of Directors Dr. Rehana Ahmed, and myself.
As CTO, a position I began last Monday, I will be be responsible for the technical groups that support PSI programs in 65 countries around the world including:
In a preview tour to two global retreats of PSIers from the Asia and the East Africa, South Africa and Nigeria regions, I have had a whirlwind introduction to an organization that is widely known for its social marketing - especially of subsidized products including condoms, other reproductive health products, and insecticide-treated nets - to poor and vulnerable groups around the world. The staff have been great in their openness and willingness to share their experiences and hopes with me. The programs I have seen presented at the retreats were models for social marketing practice and the incorporation of evidence-based decision-making into program planning, implementation and evaluation. One of the most intriguing aspects of PSI is its commitment to creating ROI metrics for program effectiveness based on the number of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) averted by their various programs and using these as their measure of success in their strategic plan (pdf file).
At the Asia regional retreat I briefly talked about my perception of the CTO position and offered four different POVs on it:
- A type of sports car made by General Motors.
- Some kind of techno-geek who dresses and smells bad.
- The executive responsible for the scientific and/or technical direction of the organization.
- There is currently no commonly shared definition of the CTO position or that person's responsibilities.
The last definition, drawn from Wikipedia, is my favorite and is why I have chosen for my business card to simply be referred to as 'Chief Maven' [there are many mavens throughout PSI]. The definition of Chief Maven I extracted from The Tipping Point includes:
- One who accumulates knowledge.
- Likes to initiate conversations and respond to requests.
- They are more than experts – they want to share.
- An educator and helper (a data bank).
- Mavens have the knowledge and social skills to start WOM epidemics.
This new position will affect how this blog evolves. I am looking at this new position as the opportunity to bridge the domestic, or better the developed world's, view of social marketing and the international one and bring out the best of both. I will line out those differences in an upcoming post. From there you will see more examples of international social marketing programs outside of the In the News features, my perspectives on international social marketing issues that become part of my daily concerns, and hopefully some new insights into how the global practice and thinking of social marketing has applications for anyone, anywhere who is committed to changing their small or large piece of the world. I won't be leaving the usual content behind; you might think of it as being globally engaged and locally connected.