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Last fall, three Pfizer colleagues from around the world came together as a Global Health Team in Mumbai to lend their business skills with V Care, a voluntary support group dedicated to providing free-of-charge assistance to cancer patients and their families through outreach programs and services to improve their quality of life. The following Q&A provides a glimpse into the team’s experience, as told by one of its members, Matthew.

As a Global Health Team member with V Care, what was the most valuable part of your volunteer work?
The opportunity to take V Care on a journey to expand and develop their organization was an incredibly humbling experience. Seeing first-hand how our work inspired and motivated the V Care team to further their objectives in helping cancer patients in Mumbai was incredibly valuable.

What were your specific assignments with V Care?
V Care has grown rapidly since its inception over 20 years ago. Today the organization helps thousands of patients every year, but they’re looking to help even more and are in need of a clear path forward to support this level of future growth. This is where our team stepped in. We helped them create an action plan for establishing infrastructure and internal processes, as well as defining their goals and metrics.

How did your experience relate to your work at Pfizer, and did it provide you with any specific insights that you’ve been able to apply to your day-to-day work?
I work in Pfizer’s oncology unit in Europe, yet when I visited hospitals in India and spoke to cancer patients, it was clear to me that the in-country situation was much different than I imagined. The hardship of finding transportation to a cancer center and the financial strain of paying for treatment are paramount. The emotional burden of disease diagnosis also takes a toll, and we saw how V Care volunteers spend a great deal of time speaking with patients and caregivers to help them deal with their diagnosis. Patients in India don’t have the same luxuries as those in developed countries.

What was the greatest impact that your work had on V Care?
We’ve been in regular contact with V Care since our assignment and have confirmed that they’re continuing to carry out the action plan that we worked with them to create. However, aside from this tactical deliverable, the most meaningful result of our work is the renewed energy and focus they felt to move their organization forward.

What contributed most to your success as a Global Health Team? 
As a team, we placed a great deal of emphasis on building a personal relationship and trust with everyone at V Care, as this would help to ensure we were all comfortable working together. We also kept each other’s strengths in mind so that we could effectively and efficiently give V Care what it needed.

What was your greatest takeaway from the experience?
The extreme difference in work environment compared to what I was used to made this a highly rewarding experience for me. I made every effort to leave preconceptions behind and get under the skin of the situation, and in return, I gained invaluable cross-cultural and cross-functional skills that have given me greater enjoyment and satisfaction in my day-to-day work at Pfizer.

What are your hopes for V Care?
I hope they will be able to build on their strengths and offer even more support to a greater number of cancer patients, both in Mumbai and across India.