Harvard Leadership Programme Helps Baby-Boomer Bosses to Save the World

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

About a year and a half ago, Ken Kelley, the founder of Paxvax, a vaccine company which focuses on the travel industry, became afflicted with what he calls an “intellectual itch”. He wondered why certain diseases, such as Ebola and dengue fever, lack vaccine protection.

“I was curious and passionate about this problem because it seemed to me to be a solvable one,” says Mr Kelley, who worked for 35 years in Silicon Valley as a venture capitalist and biotech entrepreneur. By his own admission, he became consumed by this vaccine question and talked about it with clients, colleagues, friends and anyone who would listen. During one conversation, a fellow VC encouraged him to pursue a solution through Harvard’s Advanced Leadership fellowship programme.

 The programme, now in its eighth year, is designed for experienced professionals who want to tackle problems such as poverty, global health and the environment. For the fellows — most of whom are in their fifties and sixties — it offers both an alternative to retirement, and an opportunity to develop new skills and relationships before embarking on a “second act” career in public service.

For Harvard, the goal of the fellowship is to create a class of leaders who have the expertise and connections to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.

“It’s been a transformational year intellectually, personally, professionally and culturally,” says Mr Kelley, who completed the programme last month.

In Boston recently, he unveiled his plan of action: a proposed Benefit Corporation focused on creating vaccines for preventable diseases, a public-private partnership devoted to the issue and a global fund that would finance vaccine development.

Source: Financial Times (link opens in a new window)

Environment, Health Care
infectious diseases, vaccines