Bvudzai is the Senior Technical Advisor for Research & Advocacy at VillageReach. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, most of her work is centered in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi. Driven by an interest to witness meaningful and sustainable change in underserved communities, she is responsible for generating evidence from the organization’s work to improve access to health care at the last mile and to use that evidence for advocacy. More recently, she has taken a keen interest in understanding the notion of scaling and sustaining social innovation in health through government to ensure cohesive integration in health systems and sustainability – what makes it work, in what contexts and how?
Bvudzai studied public health in Zimbabwe and South Africa up to doctorate level. All of her work experience in the past 11 years has been in public health research with a goal to inform policy and practice – advising governments, donors and NGOs and previously as an academic. Her work has been widely disseminated at local and international conferences and published in high impact peer-reviewed journals. She was selected for the Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH) award in 2013, an innovative multi-partner blended training program connected with the Global Symposia on Health Systems Research. This programme targets young, promising and emerging health policy and systems researchers, decision-makers and other health system professionals with interest in becoming influential global health voices and/or local change makers, particularly in LMICs. In 2016, she was appointed a mentor for EV4GH. She also contributes as a member of the Scientific Committee for the Global Symposia on Health Systems Research (held bi-annually).
Her curious mindset can be traced back from childhood when she aspired to become a lawyer and journalist and was often spotted sitting at the family table back in Zimbabwe pretending to be a television news anchor. The latter was realized when she anchored a community program on national television in 2006-7. The former is a lived reality each day as she is confronted with tough questions for research which when answered can inspire lasting solutions and transformative change in the communities where we operate in.
Insight on Leadership:
- Leadership implies that there are ‘followers.’ This by no means refers to rank or authority but a willingness on the part of others to follow in the direction we have set. In VillageReach’s work of social innovation, we are constantly seeking for a ‘following,’ whether that is government, partners or the populations we are trying to serve. While there is a myriad of institutions, they are made up of real people, and effective leadership invests in relationships with the faces behind the institutions, works to win their trust and confidence then invites them to follow the grand idea!
- Effective leadership has the capacity to inspire – there is something to be learnt from Simon Sinek’s concept of the ‘golden circle’, also termed ‘the power of why’ suggesting that those who inspire in their leadership start from the ‘why’ (purpose and values not results) then move to the ‘how’ (value proposition) and finally the ‘what’ (product). On the other hand, those who are ineffective reverse that order and are often not able to articulate the ‘why’ even when their product is brilliant.
- When people are inspired, leadership is distributed and becomes a practice rather than a role or responsibility, and that is the right environment for change. Sustainable social change requires having other people who believe what we believe beyond our organization’s existence in a particular place or even beyond the existence of a handful of people in certain positions. How to influence a whole system ought to be the subject of inquiry for every responsible leader.