How does someone who started out in finance end up center stage in the fight against COVID-19? Because our guest Aurélia Nguyen had the guts and self-awareness to step out of traditional trajectories into a career that, at the time, didn’t even have a name yet. As she progressed through the finance and policy departments at Glaxo Smith Kline, Aurélia realized she had more resonant work to do. So she retrained and redefined herself for her role today: Managing Director of the Office of the COVAX Facility, where she helps secure and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 92+ lower-resource countries – a job description that’s about as high-stakes and high-speed as it gets.

We talk with Aurélia about how she’s learned to successfully lead in an environment where there are many players, objectives, realities, and pivots (sound familiar?). We talk about collaboration, working toward collective milestones rather than collective visions, gathering talented teams who work with a singular focus, and how extending partnership arcs far outside the health category is helping her team reach their global health mission. It’s a powerful story of redefining and the incredible impact it can have on the world.

Review the following relevant report: What if they mean it?


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Aurélia Nguyen

Managing Director Office of the COVAX Facility

In October 2020, Aurélia Nguyen was appointed Managing Director of the Office of the COVAX Facility. In this role, Aurélia is leading the coordination of procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines for 190 participating economies through COVAX, the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers worldwide to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for economies of all financial means. COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a groundbreaking global collaboration bringing together governments, scientists, businesses, civil society, donors and global health organisations to speed up an end to the pandemic. Until her appointment as Managing Director of the Office of the COVAX Facility, Aurélia served as Gavi’s Managing Director for Vaccines & Sustainability, leading the end-to-end work of designing Gavi’s vaccine programmes. She and her team were responsible for designing ways for Gavi’s resources to support financially sustainable vaccine programmes and markets, and ultimately increase uptake of life-saving vaccines.

Prior to joining Gavi, Aurélia held a variety of posts between 1999 and 2010 within GlaxoSmithKline, where latterly she led the development of GSK’s policies on access to medicines and vaccines in the developing world. She has also undertaken research for the World Health Organization (WHO) on generic medicines policies. Aurélia is a certified accountant and holds a Master’s degree in Health Policy, Planning & Financing from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics. Aurélia was named by TIME magazine to the 2021 TIME100 Next list honouring “the 100 individuals who are shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leadership”.