Coyne '96 with friends in Uganda. The baby girl was christened
Jane, in honor of the Kellogg alum.
alum brings technical leadership to humanitarian relief group
isn't trying to martyr herself, but in her work as a logistician
for humanitarian relief organization Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF), the Kellogg School alum has been a lot closer to
danger than most MBA graduates.
because Uganda, Sri Lanka and Nigeria have been Coyne's home
for months at a time over the last three years. She's become
much more comfortable with insects and snakes, been evacuated
from the bush when Ugandan rebel paramilitary troops drew
too close, and has occasionally been forced into a grueling
around-the-clock emergency mode. Until recently, when she
took on a role in MSF's New York offices, she had lived out
of a backpack for two years.
deal? Not really.
an outdoors person, athletic, pretty simple. Conditions that
might be hard for others just aren't hard for me," says the
soft-spoken Coyne '96.
constitutional disinterest in creature comforts, along with
"incredibly compelling" work, most recently in Nigeria where
the team cared for 13,000 malnourished children, explains
some of the reasons why Coyne has directed her management
talents to MSF.
experience has, by far, been the most satisfying use of my
energy," says Coyne, whose career has included consulting
gigs, a Hewlett-Packard job and running her own business.
has taken her far from the erstwhile dot-com glitz of her
Bay Area roots. In 2003 in Uganda, for instance, Coyne led
a team running a water system for a village that, almost overnight,
grew from 3,000 to 30,000 people. "But it still had no infrastructure:
no water, no phones, no lights," she says. "The bane of my
existence was water pumps that had no spare parts."
locals held Coyne and her team in esteem. "For these people
water is life," she explains.
Nigeria last year, she helped manage a huge operation to provide
medical treatment and food — some 15 tons a day —
under sub-optimal circumstances that included the watchful
eye of a government often more concerned with getting MSF
out of the country before anyone could make unfavorable comparisons
to Niger, the poorer neighbor to the north. The situation
put the MSF team "on pins and needles," says Coyne, but they
worked with local health ministers who understood the mission's
importance in treating post-measles malnutrition.
Coyne is working on a project to improve emergency shelter.
The situation allows her to remain closer to family, including
her ailing mother, the original inspiration for Coyne's volunteerism.
She tries to balance her passion for giving back to others
with her own needs, and admits it's difficult to move between
these worlds, especially since she enjoys the challenges of
managing a large, multicultural staff engaged in life-saving
MMM graduate in her is also satisfied by the work.
last mission, I probably spent five or six hours a week trying
to fix generators or trying to put a carburetor back together,"
she says. "For me, this is the perfect opportunity because
I'm kind of a geeky, mechanical person."