Maiko Hirai (MSc Public Health, 2014) is an Associate Partner for McKinsey, the Global Public Health and Healthcare practice. Here, she describes how her work has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, how LSHTM gave her long-lasting connections, and advice for current students.
“I spent my childhood in Thailand during the AIDS epidemic. I witnessed the fragility of its healthcare system during that period, and from a very young age, I knew I wanted to improve healthcare access, especially for those in need. I joined LSHTM after completing my degree in medicine and working in HIV/AIDS research at an international organisation. I applied to LSHTM because of its reputation, knowledge repositories and network, not only in Europe and Africa but also in Asia.
“After I graduated from LSHTM, I joined McKinsey. My work focuses on strategy development for international donors, government, and pharmaceutical companies to improve outcomes of their portfolios, investments and projects. I am currently co-leading the Asia Global Public Health Practice focusing on infectious diseases and R&D. Since the pandemic, my work has been shifting towards response and redesign of COVID-19-related topics such as government COVID-19 strategy development, and COVID-19 regional response design. McKinsey has been involved in more than 1,500 COVID-19 related projects across 70
countries both with public and private sectors. I have been involved in COVID-19 related work through our client work and research. I am grateful for the opportunity to create change that matters, while living up to our purpose of helping to create positive, enduring change in the world.
“I am still in regular touch with my LSHTM classmates and tutors. It is common to meet our alumni at work if you work in the public health space. I actually just had lunch with my classmate yesterday who works at the Ministry of Health to exchange thoughts on COVID-19 vaccine supply and chain.
“My advice for current students is that LSHTM and public health is about more than just books. Try to learn not only from books and classes, but also from interaction with your classmates, professors, and other experts. Also, immerse yourself in the city. London provides incredible growth opportunities, both as a professional and as an individual. For example, when volunteering at a local clinic on Christmas Day, I met a homeless lady who also happened to be a former swimmer, like myself. She told me her story, how she developed a substance addiction after suffering from burn-out syndrome. This made me realise the importance of systemic support and individual empathy which is the foundation of becoming a public health specialist.”