"No Stock-Outs! Yeah . . . It's Personal!"


Hanging in my office, as the sole wall decoration, is a hand-made poster that gives me inspiration every day. It reads: "No Stock-Outs! Yeah . . . It's Personal!" I'm sure people stroll past my office wondering what the sign means.

For me, as the global supply chain director for USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain Program - Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project, it is an in-my-face reminder to bring my whole self to work and to give my all to ensure health commodities are delivered to the right place, at the right time, at the right price, and with the right quality.

It is important to make this work personal, especially when you think about its impact. Moving commodities from Point A to Point B may sound abstract, but millions of people’s lives depend on it. A minor error in our forecasting can result in a stock-out that leaves people living with HIV without lifesaving ARVs. Missing critical cold chain requirements when shipping products that must be kept at a certain temperature can lead to a loss of goods and a scramble to replace them.

Recently, at the Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference, I had the opportunity to "fellowship" with 250 like-minded logisticians, all engaged in combating the scourges of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and all dedicated to delivering vital health commodities and services to developing nations. What I enjoyed most was rubbing elbows with others who share my passion for making this work "personal." My fellow repeat participants take humanitarian logistics quite seriously. (Yeah, it's personal for them too.)

I've learned over the years that when I make development personal, I am somehow able to muster the drive, energy, and creativity from down deep to work tirelessly toward achieving goals. The mission of GHSC-PSM is personal to me because it is an incredible platform for giving back to millions of people around the world.

The joy of knowing my team's well-honed global supply chain skill-sets make a difference and save lives is exhilarating. The personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment the project offers is the greatest I have experienced in my 35-year career.

The 2016 gathering was informative. Most importantly, I was inspired by my growing network of humanitarian logistics brothers and sisters. Now it's time to get back to work. No stock-outs.  

Let’s all make it personal.

George Ellis is the global supply chain director for USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain Program - Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project.

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