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CAHI Fellows Program


Interview with Professor John Ickis

John C. Ickis is a specialist in planning and execution of strategic processes. Author and co-author of various articles, case studies and reflections on leadership, competitiveness, human resource generation, strategic development, among others. He has presented his approaches and provided advice in Central America, China, South Africa and the United States in various research centers and universities.

He is part of the INCAE Business School group of professors that has taught in the CAHI Fellows Program since the beginning in 2014. We had the honor of conducting this interview before his class in the Second Module of the 6th Generation of CAHI Fellows. The interview follows below; it has been translated from Spanish and has been edited lightly for clarity:

Interviewer: How was your connection with the CAHI Fellows Program? John: I was initially involved by an invitation from Professor Andrea Prado. I have participated in two ways: as a professor and as a mentor to the CAHI Fellows, which has been very interesting for me.

Since 1972, I have been involved in some way in the health sector, through projects we had with the Ford Foundation in the area of ​​maternal and child health and others to improve the management of clinics in rural areas. I have worked for several years in writing cases, some of which are still being used. I have also had the opportunity to advise institutions such as the Costa Rican Social Security Administration.

Interviewer: What has been your contribution to the CAHI Fellows Program? John: I believe that mainly in the area of ​​organization and implementation of projects, in learning how projects are carried out, how to combine resources with people over a time frame to ensure the achievement of their objectives. 

Interviewer: How do have you seen the groups in the CAHI Fellows Program evolve? John: It is very interesting, because initially we focused on the impact that each CAHI Fellow could achieve with their projects and we still focus on that. But recently, I have noticed when talking with some CAHI Fellows in Guatemala, that their main focus is on networking.

I give you an example: I was mentor of a project in Nicaragua, focused on the quality of the service of a clinic for a segment of the population that has more opportunities and access to medical care. I wanted that project to have a broader social impact, covering more segments of the population, and the opportunity arose through the exchange with another CAHI Fellow in El Salvador. Upon contact, they were able to apply the findings and learning about quality of care in a public hospital in El Salvador, so that there was an effective transfer of knowledge.

This is an example of how the CAHI Fellows are communicating, how they keep in touch throughout Central America, which is a source of innovation in the area of ​​health. I believe that this evolution will continue and result in many successes. 

Interviewer: Do you think this impact will be sustainable and will be strengthened over time? John: I think so, because we need innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, and that is what the CAHI Fellows have. I see that there is a lot of motivation among them, they have extremely interesting projects and they are generating learning. These findings and knowledge create a huge factor that multiplies throughout the region, which is precisely what the health sector needs. That is why I trust this CAHI Fellows Program will continue to generate relevant contributions in innovation of projects that benefit the populations that need it in Central America.

Interviewer: How do you see learning and knowledge-generation evolving within the Program? John: It has been very satisfactory and in the last two years I have had the opportunity to develop material and gather information for case studies, which is not only useful for CAHI Fellows, but in other executive seminars and programs such as the MBA, so future business leaders have sensitivity and information about health needs and innovations. I think that in the long run this can be a very significant contribution, that we can communicate with other sectors about what is being done to improve health in Central America.

Interviewer: Do you remember any of the case studies that you can refer to? John: We will be working on one of these cases on Friday: Teensmart, an organization that works with young people between 10 and 24 years old, to avoid risky behaviors and generate new habits. TeenSmart addresses behaviors such as tobacco and drug abuse, risky sexual behaviors, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, everything that subsequently generates diseases that represent large expenses for families or huge budgets for the State. Changing these behaviors is a win for all actors in society. 

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