5 questions with Lily Zeng
Our monthly checkin with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.
Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to CHAI.
I studied business and finance during undergrad. After graduation, I spent two years at Procter & Gamble in Finance. I was introduced to CHAI by a friend who had worked in the Sierra Leone office on post-Ebola health system strengthening. I was fascinated by CHAI’s business-oriented approach to public health problems.
I didn’t think I’d be able to make a switch into global development so early in my career, but it became clear that CHAI valued the skills I had learned in the private sector!
1. What does a typical day at CHAI look like for you?
My team and the partners/suppliers we work with are stationed all around the world in different time zones. My mornings are typically spent speaking with vaccine manufacturers, CHAI’s country teams, or global health partners (like Gavi, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, etc.). Depending on the day, these discussions vary from problem-solving sessions and presentations to work and strategy planning.
Our team often travels to work with vaccine manufacturers on-site. While we’re there, we regularly work with the company’s senior management to support them in commercial planning, pricing strategy, and market-entry in low-income settings. Our objective is to help them better navigate the nebulous and often complex low-income markets.
2. What’s the best thing about your job?
What I love about CHAI is how many humble and conscientious individuals I get to work with. My teammates all come from a variety of backgrounds but are connected by a dedication to focus on where our work can be the most impactful. It sounds a bit cliché, but the CHAI values really come alive in our everyday work.
3. What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
If a new opportunity or challenge presents itself and it makes your hands a little clammy, then you should probably take it.
4. What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Dance and music is a really big part of my life. When I am in Toronto, I try to train in hip hop classes 4-5 times a week. When I’m traveling for CHAI, I try to explore the local dance community in the cities that I visit. One of my colleagues in the Nigeria office actually runs a dance studio and I was able to learn afro dance there.
4. What advice would you give someone who’s considering joining CHAI?
Definitely take a look through CHAI’s values and think about some examples in your past where you’ve exhibited these traits!