June 17, 2021

5 Questions with Jason Zhu

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.

In college I studied economics with a particular interest in international and behavioral economics. After graduation, I worked at ZS Associates, in San Francisco, as a consultant in the life sciences sector. It was a great first job, but after a few years I was eager to combine my interest in international economics with my experience in the health sector to address more interesting problems concerning global health. It was at this time that I happened to learn about CHAI when the startup my roommate was working at was contracted by CHAI to develop a digital health platform for one of CHAI’s program countries. I applied to a few interesting positions, and the rest, as they say, is history!

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

I work mostly on three areas: improving access to human papillomavirus vaccines and increasing vaccine access more broadly within middle-income countries (a relatively new space for CHAI and partners), as well as strengthening Chinese supplier participation in low- and middle-income country markets. The actual day-to-day can vary quite significantly depending on the project at that time. A typical workday might include things like building out a demand forecast, developing parts of a global vaccines strategy or policy, and consolidating market insights for partners or manufacturers.

2. What has been one of your proudest moments working at CHAI?

I have been very fortunate to help lead work on increasing vaccine access in middle-income countries, which currently do not receive funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is the largest vaccine-focused partner in the world. This set of countries has seen significant vaccine access challenges, particularly with coverage backsliding and delays in human papillomavirus, pneumococcal, and rotavirus vaccine introductions. Along with close support from partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), our team has published a global strategy for middle-income countries highlighting key areas requiring additional partner focus as part of WHO’s Immunization Agenda 2030. We are co-leading a working group to ensure that vaccine access issues in middle-income countries are appropriately resourced and addressed in the coming decade.

3. What is a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?

I want to play a Dungeons and Dragon (tabletop role-playing game) campaign at some point in the future. I have listened to a few podcasts of people playing and it sounds like a lot of fun. I really enjoy improv, storytelling, and am a big nerd. It seems like it would be fun!

4. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?

My friends and I tried to bike across California from San Francisco to Los Angeles with little to no training or preparation. What was the worst that could happen? Two weeks, 20+ flat tires, and countless unplanned detours (getting lost) later, we made it half-way before we gave up…because our bikes got stolen. 10/10 would do it again.

5. What is a motto you live by?

To be honest I do not have a specific motto that I live by, but I thought this was an interesting question because it is not something I have thought of before! After some casual googling, I have decided from now on that my motto will be “Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.” – Lao Tzu. I feel like it somewhat reflects my personality and approach to life and is just ambiguous and mysterious enough to sound profound.

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