Chemonics International reimagined a global health supply chain that enables medicine to reach the most remote corners of the world. The firm’s CEO, Jamey Butcher, spoke with Brunswick’s Stewart Jones, a former Chemonics employee.
You became CEO on April 1—an interesting time to begin your tenure.
Exactly. I haven’t physically been in the office since I’ve been CEO. But I have been with Chemonics for almost 22 years now, in a range of roles, so I know the firm well. My first job here was actually a temporary one—we called it a “stringer” at the time—and from there, I worked on assignments in Guyana, Sri Lanka, Albania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Bosnia ...
What was day one as CEO like?
My main focus was making sure our staff and their families were safe and healthy. We’re headquartered in Washington, DC, but we have 5,000 global staff in 75 countries, the overwhelming majority of whom are local professionals. And we obviously also had to rapidly ensure some core business continuity, make sure that our people could continue to do their work.
And for those who aren’t familiar with Chemonics, what does that work look like?
We’re a private sector, employee-owned international development consulting firm—a mouthful, I know. It means that we’re a for-profit company addressing issues many think of as being confined to the non-profit world. We’ve worked in more than 150 countries over the past 45 years. We were founded in 1975 and we’ve led more than 1,000 projects since then. These projects are focused on helping our clients, partners, and beneficiaries take on some of the hardest and most intractable challenges: political instability, limited healthcare, access to education, market instability, infrastructure.
Our primary client over the years has been USAID. But we’re also working with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and other bilateral and multilateral aid donors. And we tend to partner with a wide variety of organizations including private sector, non-governmental organizations, and local organizations.
In 2015, for example, Chemonics led a consortium including IBM and McKinsey to bid on an eight-year program to deliver lifesaving health commodities for HIV, malaria, maternal and child health, and family planning around the world. It was the largest procurement that USAID had ever done to date. And we were able to win that award, unseating an incumbent that had been doing the work for 30 years.