I just got back from London, and I’m relieved to be home where I can actually understand the people who are speaking English to me. Nothing against the Brits, I just don’t understand half the things they say out loud. Either way it was a fantastic trip this past week, where I attended the Milken Institute London Summit – proudly attended, as a new member of the Young Leaders Circle. This meant I had a chance to participate in sessions which included CEO’s of the largest corporations in the world, and other stakeholders (former FDA commissioners, scientists, journalists, and even a classmate from college who lives in Nairobi) as well as world leaders (think: Tony Blair — got to say hi to him again as he was walking by. “It was great to see your wife last week” I said to him, accidentally. When I meant to say “…in New York where we met.” He was polite, flashed a charming smile, and gave me a warm handshake as if he remembered me. (Sometimes a fumble is what does the trick.) And then his security detail whisked him off to another meeting.
The point of the meeting was to discuss with rigor and enthusiasm topics such as “how are we going to cure diseases?” and “how can we help improve the global economy?” Naturally, the former appealed more to me, but I was also interested in the insights that everyone had. When Mike Milken throws a meeting of the minds, it’s pretty exquisite to watch.
This pond-hopping weekend kicked off on the right foot last week – literally – when I departed from Washington, DC (before the shutdown!), where I was attending a meeting at the White House (not the West Wing, the less famous but equally glamorous Old Executive Office Building—and no, I didn’t steal an ashtray), which convened experts about science, technology, manufacturing and engineering education experts (STEM).
My role was as an observer and participant focused on how we’re going to educate a healthcare workforce of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to fill the gaps and ensure that we patients get the best care with the greatest care. There is an alarming shortage of doctors, which will only get worse, and as patients with chronic conditions, we need more people raising their hands to go to school to be medical doctors, so that they can help us feel better. But we also need so many other levels of medical / science sector minds to grow, learn and dedicate their lives to advancing every other level of medicine. Right down to the people who figure out how we can transfer blood more efficiently, or package a kidney for shipment (those require extra postage).
So there I sat, at the intersection of healthcare, education and technology, wondering when the last time they even had ashtrays at the White House. I decided, too, this week, that my true skill set lies in my ability to pack suits that don’t wrinkle. This ought to be an Olympic sport.