Q&A with Dr. Christine Sow

By Sandy Garcon, Communications Manager, PSI

Dr. Christine Sow recently joined PSI as its Chief Operating Officer, bringing more than 20 years of global health leadership experience. She is responsible for overseeing PSI’s country-level operations, including health product and service delivery, as well global marketing.

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PSI COO Christine Sow. Photo Credit: PSI

What brought you to PSI?

I’ve always admired PSI’s moxie, its willingness to push the envelope both technically and operationally. When I was working with USAID and the Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism in Mali, PSI was the organization I knew I could turn to for rapid high impact and effective response.

While at the Global Health Council, I spent much of my time working at the global level on policy and advocacy issues. While fascinating, I missed being able to do applied work at the country and local levels, which is really where I’ve spent most of my career. I’m looking forward to using many of the concepts I’d been previously exploring at significant scale while ensuring that I am making a difference in people’s lives.

What are some key lessons you’ve learned from your diverse and extensive experience in global health?

Working with a variety of partners has allowed me to explore global health challenges through various lenses and to better understand the motives and strategies adopted by different actors in the international development space. These experiences have allowed me to be selective and strategic in choosing how to respond to a particular challenge. I liken this to performing mental yoga. You stretch and challenge the way you think to achieve stronger and more appropriate outcomes, and avoid complacency at all costs.

How do you see your role as Chief Operating Officer?

I’m excited about this role at PSI, especially since PSI is thinking so creatively and strategically about how we will engage in the global health landscape in the years to come. I hope to facilitate the connections between our global aspirations and operational work, and help strengthen our systems and approaches to allow us to achieve high impact in improving the health and quality of life of people in the places we work.

PSIers embrace the concept of “making the market work for Sara” in the work they do. What does this mean to you?

PSI’s archetype, Sara, is for me a constant reminder that each beneficiary is a living, caring human being with many needs and a complex life. It’s exciting that PSI is moving from delivering commodities and services to shaping markets, especially since Sara will continue to be the centerpiece in all that we do. Women and girls cannot be truly empowered unless the social and structural determinants and influences that constrain them are adequately addressed. We must work to put the necessary resources and tools in Sara’s hands so that she can shape her own life towards a positive outcome.

This article is part of an ongoing conversation about #MakingMarketsWork in Impact Magazine No. 22 “Are We Thinking Big Enough” issue. Join in the conversation with @PSIImpact.

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