For healthier, happier and longer lives in Africa

As an Executive in Residence, Mike Kavanaugh, Executive Director of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs Effectiveness and Scientific Communications at Boehringer Ingelheim in the U.S., supported the social entrepreneur Nneka Mobison and her organization mDoc. This startup leverages digital technology and behavioral science to improve quality of care, manage chronic disease, and reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases in low- and middle-income communities in Africa.

Mike Kavanaugh, Executive in Residence

Mike supported mDoc in developing their virtual ecosystem, where all of their healthcare data is located. One of his main tasks was shaping their end-to-end learning platform, which provides education and tools to patients. He also helped define their business models to generate revenues. However, what works in the U.S. might not work in Africa. Being in Nigeria challenged him to see the world from a different perspective. Before he arrived, he was skeptical – but the more he learned and saw, the more he was amazed, “They created the whole ecosystem around the digital solution in a way that we have not seen in the U.S.” The Executive in Residence program provided Mike with an incredible opportunity to understand the healthcare system in Nigeria and be exposed to a set of challenges that he would not have otherwise faced. For example, in the U.S., Mike was used to going to several meetings in one day. But in Lagos, you can spend four hours in traffic just to get to one meeting.

His time in Nigeria made Mike realize how fortunate he is and he no longer takes simple things for granted. The experience changed his outlook: “I find satisfaction in my own day-to day work, but now I want to make the world a better place to live.” The Executive in Residence program has also influenced his work at Boehringer Ingelheim. He was reminded of the importance of engaging directly with patients, as he explained: “it is easy to forget and become so focused on what corporate wants, what our leadership wants, what your team wants, and you forget what our customers need.”

Talking to local supporters of mDOC

He believes this program is very valuable to Boehringer Ingelheim. It enables employees to get out of their comfort zones and develop disruptive innovative solutions. As Mike concluded, “It helps the social entrepreneurs. It helps me to grow as an individual. It helps our corporate reputation … what a fantastic program that we are able to do.”

By Taiseer Kizbari and Mike Kavanaugh