Lauren Haddon joined BroadReach as vice president of global business management in January this year. Lauren has extensive global health development experience, advanced training in business, finance and in program management, and has also run health programs in Nigeria and South Africa. She has worked across the US, France, South Africa and the UK.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I come from a family with dual nationality. My father is from Zimbabwe, my mother is from France, and the first part of my childhood was spent in Zimbabwe, with my siblings. I’m the eldest of three children. We moved temporarily to the UK for about a year and a half, and then to France, but I kept coming back to Africa, because my grandparents lived in Zimbabwe.
I attended university in the UK doing a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology and worked with refugee organizations in France, and then did an MBA, where I specialized in social enterprises. Work saw me moving back to Pretoria at first, and then back to the UK for seven or eight years, and then to the US, where I currently live in Washington DC with my partner Allen, and our lovely golden retriever, Yancy.
Tell us a bit about your professional life?
I’ve always worked in the health sector – even when I was working with refugees, it was about access to healthcare and health system strengthening. I quickly realized that while there are many in this sector who focus either on highly technical areas, or on compliance and operational areas, my experience allows me to bridge the two. I can look at projects from a technical approach perspective and figure out how the implementation will work, and what the financial implications are. I like taking ideas from technical folk and help them to think through options or alternatives and ask the right questions. It motivates me to try and find the best way to deliver a project.
What excites you about the move to BroadReach?
I think BroadReach is an organization that has flipped the way we look at development. Usually, we take lessons from the private sector or high-income countries and apply those to the international development aid sector. At BroadReach, however, they’re taking development solutions and seeing the potential for using them in both developing and higher income countries, as well as the private and commercial sectors. People often fall into the trap of seeing development work as charity, but BroadReach doesn’t work from that perspective.
What do you hope to achieve in your time at BroadReach?
I’d like to see us growing the projects we currently have on both the commercial and international development sides, and that the aspiration that BroadReach has of being a truly global organization becomes a reality. I hope we’re at the top of the tipping point now, and that I can play a role in supporting and defining what it means to straddle those sectors.
What are some of BroadReach’s strengths?
There’s a real sense that everyone in the company knows what its culture and values are – they’re not just on a poster on the wall somewhere. Everyone understands what the culture and values mean as a behavior – that certain sets of behaviors are expected. That is super important, because it drives a lot of the other initiatives.
What are some of your strengths?
I’ve moved around a lot, and worked in different cultures and environments, and I also come from a multicultural family, so I think I’m very sensitive to the different ways that people communicate. Even working in the US versus the UK – it’s like chalk and cheese. We speak the same language, but we communicate very differently, so I’m very mindful of that kind of thing.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m an avid horse rider. As a child in France, during the long summer holidays, we were sent to the stables, and would often spend the whole day there. I’ve kept it up and now go horse riding in Virginia whenever I can – it’s very beautiful countryside, with wineries to stop by on your way back from a hack.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Probably that I’m actually an introvert. I’m a very social introvert, but I need time and space to reset after I’ve been around people a lot. Our jobs require that we spend a lot of time with people, and I do it happily, as it motivates me in my work. But I’m also very protective of maintaining some quiet thinking space. Even though I’m introverted, being isolated during COVID-19 has been difficult – as it has been for many – and for me, particularly, not being able to see the family in France has been a challenge.