Melanie Martel, Senior Brand Manager with Pfizer
“I am a different, better person, more tolerant, and certainly happier,” says Melanie Martel, a senior brand manager with Pfizer who took part in its prestigious Global Health Fellows (GHF) program. Melanie recently completed a six-month fellowship with IntraHealth in Senegal.
From September 2010 to March 2011, Melanie worked on internal and external communication—documenting success stories, sharing best practices, supporting the Mobilize against Malaria team on communication, and developing marketing management and leadership skills trainings.
Going out in the field—and seeing the work in action—was a highlight for Melanie, and she says working with the Mobilize against Malaria team in Tambacounda gave her the most satisfaction. “I was thrilled to see how dynamic the team was and how engaged the team was with the community.”
The team’s goal in Tambacounda is to partner with the communities in remote, rural areas to rehabilitate health huts—community-managed clinics that provide basic and timely care for malaria. “What the project team does really makes a difference,” says Melanie. “This was the first time I was involved in community work, and I could sense the impact.”
Having a concrete role to play also added to her experience. “The Mobilize against Malaria team is highly dedicated and has a fantastic spirit. They really made me feel like part of their team, giving me some tasks to do—like developing communication tools for community workers. I felt trusted and involved.”
Overall, the six-month experience has impacted Melanie on several levels. “This was an amazing experience from a personal perspective, especially as it was extremely challenging. I had to stretch my boundaries,” she explains, “and a lot of my values and personal beliefs were challenged—such as my views on religion, children’s education, and the conditions in which women live.”
“Professionally, I have learned so much,” adds Melanie, “that I am now considering a career change within Pfizer to either work on our philanthropic programs, or work for the African region.”
The GHF program is open to Pfizer colleagues with at least three years of tenure, in addition to having a strong performance history and experience with underserved populations. The GHF program’s mission is to utilize the professional expertise of Pfizer colleagues through specialized volunteer assignments (three to six months) with international development organizations designed to address global health issues and improve care for underserved populations. Assignments are focused on strengthening health systems around the world to promote access, quality, and efficiency of health services.
If you want to read more about Melanie, check out her blog on lessons learned in Senegal.