February 9, 2023

5 Questions with Achieng’ Aling’

Our monthly check-in 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 am an obstetrician-gynecologist and was a practicing clinician for almost 10 years prior to shifting to global health. This was always the career path I hoped to take; I enjoyed my practice years as they gave me a first-hand understanding of the health system challenges faced by practitioners and patients. I had always hoped to contribute to advancing health systems to benefit these two populations and after completing an MSc in Global Health Delivery, I was naturally drawn to CHAI; an organization that works at the service of governments. CHAI is sensitive to the priorities of different countries and endeavors to include all stakeholders to improve healthcare delivery. This aligns with my idea of how to go about impacting healthcare.

1. What does a typical day at CHAI look like for you?

Upon arriving at the office, I first go through my to-do list, track progress, and identify any potential concerns my team or I may need support on, followed by a series of meetings with stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Health and the University of Rwanda. These meetings provide an opportunity to coordinate efforts and reprioritize the work.

In my day to day, there has to be room for flexibility as government partner priorities keep changing. As the day winds down, I like to review my plan for the next few days and communicate progress with the team. My role is fulfilling but does require a commitment to improving the health and well-being of communities.

2. What’s the best thing about your job?

What I love about my job is the intellectual challenge to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for healthcare professionals’ development. Additionally, working with CHAI allows me to collaborate with various stakeholders—from universities, health providers to government agencies—which has expanded my knowledge of policy development and implementation. This contrasts my years in clinical practice where the work was definitive—either this or that; I am enjoying the iterative nature of our work that ensures our implementation relies not only on quantitative but also qualitative data.

I love connecting the dots between the daily efforts and the impact on improving healthcare education. When colleagues and partners acknowledge the importance of our work and contribution, it’s a source of motivation and inspiration and serves as a powerful reminder of why the work is so important and why it matters.

3. What’s the biggest learning experience you’ve had at CHAI?

The importance of building a community and connection. At times changes in the work trajectory can be challenging and having a supportive network of people with whom I can engage with really reduces the stress. I am where I am because of my team’s support.

4. In your experience, what skills are most crucial to succeeding at CHAI?

  • Adaptability and flexibility: The ability to remain calm and focused under pressure and to adjust quickly to changing circumstances and unexpected challenges. Most of our work is consultative; different partners and constant monitoring means our work is constantly in flux.
  • Cultural competence: CHAI brings together individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. The ability to understand, respect, and effectively engage is essential, as is creating programs and initiatives that are inclusive and culturally responsive.

5. What is your favorite quote of all time and why?

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

I love this quote because it allows holding grace for oneself in life. At times we can be our own worst critics, but understanding and ensuring our actions are laced with best intentions if we later realize they were informed by a paucity of information allows us to accept growth and keep learning.

View open positions

Back To Top