Upon Arrival to Accra, Ghana: “The relationship comes first and the task comes second.”

So far my experience in Ghana, both in and out of the office, has been truly humbling and wonderful. We have been so warmly welcomed and invited to be a part of the important and life-changing work being done here by the Ghanaian people, for the health and wellbeing of the nation.

In tackling our project, we have spent the last ten days ramping up on health care in Ghana, from our organization’s role to the key stakeholders at play, and the prevalent health issues among end-patients. The health care industry combines the public, private, and social spheres and our greatest challenge has been piecing together this 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle to drive robust recommendations for our client, in the limited time we have together. Our primary value has been having an outsider’s perspective; we naturally question everything in this seat, unconstrained by the status quo. This has led to several “out of the box” suggestions, which have been well-received.

That being said, we are quickly learning not everything is feasible and what works back home is not necessarily possible or wanted here, even if interesting to hear about. Our client knows their business, their industry and their beneficiaries inside and out, so we have been leveraging their deep expertise to assist us in navigating internal dynamics and obtaining buy-in.

Buy-in is crucial and has very much to do with the business relationship. Here, the relationship comes first and the task comes second. During our six week training with PYXERA Global prior to arriving on assignment in Accra, we learned there is great care and time devoted to building and sustaining relationships, a defining characteristic of our daily interactions with healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, donor agencies and public officials. For example, if someone is late to a meeting, it is not viewed critically. Ghanaians prioritize their ongoing relationship rather than the near term inconvenience caused by the person who made them wait. We too must be flexible and adaptable to fit in, and I am enjoying going with the flow rather than going with the plan.

Our visit has been met with curiosity and intrigue, and Ghanaians take great pride and joy in welcoming you to their country. It is important to them that you fully experience all Ghana has to offer and the Ghanaian way of life, not just focus on business. As such, we have jumped in with both feet and savored the local food, history, customs and cultural experiences, including music, dance and art. These experiences out of the office have helped us grow in our bond with our business partners here, while more fully appreciating their cheerful outlook on life. Setbacks and challenges that we might view as discouraging and sad are viewed with optimism here, and galvanize people to come together with renewed efforts. It is a truly inspiring perspective to witness and be influenced by.

Beyond our project work and personal development, I have also picked up some key learnings that I look forward to applying when I return to my day-to-day interactions with clients. Last week we attended an industry conference in Kumasi, north of Accra, organized by our client, and while many aspects overlapped (speakers, panels, breakout sessions), some resounding differences left a lasting impression. Presenters told engaging and passionate stories, free of slides, rigid agendas and rehearsed remarks. I was enthralled with how the audience responded with laughter, outrage, and camaraderie with speakers. This focus on the personal connection and relationship-building is inherent to everything Ghanaians do and I am excited to apply what I have learned and observed to better connect with our clients through more conversations and deeper relationships.

The Volunteer

Marta Bezoari

SVP, Account Manager

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