We interviewed Matt Ramirez, AMP Health's Management Partner in Malawi. He told us about his motivation for joining our team, his experiences working in the Ministry of Health, and his serious aversion to messy spaces.
What is your hometown? Grew up in The Woodlands, Texas but my hometown over last ten years has been New York City.
Before joining AMP Health, what was the most unusual or interesting job you had? I was a field marketer for Izze Beverage Company in 2007. Izze was a sparkling fruit juice that was started in Colorado and had recently been acquired by PepsiCo. I was in college in New York City and the job basically consisted of a mix of driving a big branded van around the city to drop off cases of product for events (while trying to avoid parking tickets), handing out free samples at public venues around the city (never get between a New Yorker and a free sample), and attending a wide range of events as a brand representative. The job gave me a chance to meet people I never would have met otherwise at all kinds of events and to experiment with a wide range of Izze cocktails.
What interested you in joining AMP Health? I felt the role matched well with my background and what I was looking for in my next position. I had worked for 5 years in the private sector with PepsiCo and had spent the past few years exploring opportunities to work on issues that mattered to me including health, access-to-finance, and renewable energy. I knew I wanted a balance of management, strategic development, implementation, and skills/knowledge sharing. The Management Partner position at AMP Health offered all of this. In addition, I really believed in the model of embedding longer-term partners with different, complementary experience into organizations to support systems change and capacity building. The opportunity to come back to Malawi where I’d already lived and worked was a big added bonus.
What are three words you would use to describe Malawi? Friendly, Fun, Resilient
What have been the most gratifying and challenging aspects of your work thus far? The most gratifying aspect of the work thus far has definitely been the interactions with my Ministry of Health counterparts. We have all been open to rethinking the way the community health system in Malawi should work and it’s been exciting to think through this with our team. The positive responses we’ve been receiving from Ministry of Health colleagues and development partners have only increased that excitement and commitment. The most challenging aspect has been the underlying infrastructure constraints that affect all facets of working here. The country is going through an enormously difficult time and being productive in an environment with significant power outages as well as transport, communications, and basic office equipment shortages has been an exercise in patience and flexibility.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Read fiction, go for runs, and watch/play soccer
People would be surprised if they knew: That I find it almost impossible to work or relax in a messy room. To distract me, friends have been known to intentionally move things out of place so that I can’t concentrate until I re-order it. I also enjoy comedy writing, mostly in the form of PowerPoint roasts or parody newsletters.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? I’ve been a beneficiary of a lot of good advice over the years but the one that always comes to mind is also the simplest: “Just do one thing at a time” which will forever be attached to my mom’s voice. No matter the context, this reminds me to push out all the noise and focus on what’s most important.