What to expect if you are selected to lead Health Systems Global?

I thought I would briefly reflect on my five years with HSG to help others understand what to expect from the job and how to prepare.

What to expect if you are selected to lead Health Systems Global?

By George Gotsadze, Executive Director pf Health Systems Global

As the society prepares to identify a new Executive Director, I thought I would briefly reflect on my five years with Health System Global (HSG) to help others understand what to expect from the job and how to prepare.

First of all, everyone has to understand that while leading the Secretariat for HSG is an exciting career opportunity and a great honor, the role of Executive Director comes with a number of important responsibilities that must be fulfilled to serve an emerging and dynamic society of individuals from all over the world. You will be expected to be responsive to the members’ needs whilst delivering on the ambitious corporate aspirations. So you must be prepared to juggle many balls in the air while enjoying the benefits the job affords.

When I started in this position, way back in March 2015, I soon realized how great HSG’s Board and its leadership was. I observed the dedication of the Board members to the field of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR), the society and its members. While Board members have changed since and the size increased to fifteen individuals, I never stopped being amazed by Board members’ efforts to build and improve the society, and how much time they voluntarily dedicate from their extremely busy schedules. Obviously, working with such a Board was and remains to be a great pleasure and always motivates me to perform and work hard.

While HSG’s Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) were already in place during the early days of my tenure, we in the Secretariat, with the Board support, were still searching for the ways to better serve TWG needs, but more importantly to better define their role and place within the global society, where every individual leading TWG volunteers their time and works hard to advance the cause the TWG; engage with sizable groups of TWG members; and most importantly seize the energy of members to deliver tangible results (such as webinars, blog posts, sessions at the global symposia or at other events, etc.). Since 2015 our ten TWGs have gone a long way. Today they are significantly better placed and, I hope, also well served by the Secretariat. However, the HSG TWG agenda is ever evolving and requires continuous attention and advancement.

Another exciting part of the job is to see how much the membership has both grown in numbers and expanded geographically to previously under-represented regions. I am pleased by how we have made progress in penetrating regional and language boundaries and expanding our society’s footprint to bring greater richness, rooted in this diversity, to face-to-face and online discussions that the society has facilitated or contributed to around the world, including or during our global symposia. I doubt this would have been possible without member, TWG and Board help, but one should also not underestimate the support provided by our donors and partners. The power of partnership has helped me in the role, and I have nurtured and treasured these relationships with every individual I met during my tenure.

Please be prepared for the job that is never short of excitement and tension. While preparing the fourth Global Symposium in Vancouver, I thought we learned a lot about how to plan and prepare the event. But preparations for Liverpool in 2018 brought new discoveries and I am sure there will be a lot to deal as we prepare for our 2020 event in Dubai. While symposium preparation at times is incredibility busy and stressful, as you juggle multiple demands, overall it is a great process to be part of as it brings together close to 100 fully engaged individuals from around the world for a period of almost two years. You will be pleasantly surprised with the quality of advice and steer one receives in this process, the support that is provided, and most importantly the dedication these people have to make the event significantly better than the previous one, assure diversity of participants and speakers, and deliver the event which speaks to current global and regional challenges and is relevant to the needs of our health systems.

Finally, working with my Secretariat team in Tbilisi and Brighton has been a pleasure and source of continuous energy. We all in the Secretariat emerged in our roles together, we made mistakes but learned the lessons and delivered on the expectations within the limits of our capacity. This is a pleasant journey with a great team of professionals, albeit working across time zones and remotely via e-mails, Skype, or conference calls. I think this team affords huge value for going forward as they bring first hand institutional memory of the past, great capacity to deliver, and immense understanding of what needs to be done and how. Without this team, HSG would never be in the place we are today.

To conclude, HSG is a great society to work for and I am prepared to help the next HSG Executive Director during the onboarding and transition process.

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