Ten years ago, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria was established to raise funding to control three of the world’s most deadly pandemics. Rajat Gupta was there from the start, and for the next decade played a leading role in guiding the Global Fund to its position as the world’s largest and most innovative multinational health funder.
In the early days, Rajat engaged by bringing his consulting firm (McKinsey) to help with the chores involved in starting a new international organization: governance, recruiting, strategic planning. In addition, Rajat joined the board to represent the private sector, a key function given that the Global Fund was to be a public-private partnership. For the last two years of his tenure, Rajat served as the chair of the Global Fund board, a reflection of the esteem with which he was held by his colleagues on the board and their confidence in his ability to help the Global Fund continue and accelerate its impact in some of the poorest and most challenged countries.
Personally, I sat with Rajat for many of these years, sitting on a sister delegation representing private foundations. Many times I remember admiring the fact that Rajat was perhaps the only person at the board table who didn’t have to be there – the rest of us had jobs that included our work on the Global Fund, but for Rajat it was only his commitment to the mission.
I also recall that during his tenure as chair, he started and ended every board meeting with a Sanskrit poem, sharing both the meaning of the poem itself and the importance of a board chair who was still grounded to his Indian roots. He brought the board there for one of its regular meetings, and it was clear that the convergence of his work on the Global Fund and his commitment to the people of India was a powerful and moving experience for him.
We are so appreciative of the time and energy and commitment from Rajat to the work of the Global Fund, and to the many other people-focused endeavors to which he contributed. He is a kind and generous leader who has helped save many lives.