Interview Series

Dream + Brag Interview with Camilla Hermann

Who has been a huge help to you on the path less traveled?

Camilla's name was one of the first to surface when we posed this question to the Dreamers // Doers community.

We're featuring her on our blog to say thank you! (And because she is a rockstar.)

Tell us about yourself and what you do, but do it in a tweet.

Social entrepreneur using tech to flip the international aid paradigm on its head

 

What is unusual about what you do? Why did you pick this path?

Odisi is a tech startup that innovated to save lives in one of the poorest areas of the world during an unprecedented outbreak of a deadly virus for which there is no vaccine and no cure.

I picked this path because of a deeply felt truth that one life matters. Because I had done work in West Africa prior to the Ebola epidemic, I had an understanding of what the initial barriers would be and what was required for a tech platform to be successful there.

 

What are 3 big dreams of yours? (ps: if they’re not audacious they don’t count!)

  1. Flip the paradigm of international aid on its head.

  2. Save lives by facilitating better, faster response during global emergencies.

  3. Implement the only cross-border public health surveillance system in West Africa and integrate functionality with revenue-generating applications that ensure the system remains in use during peacetime.

 

What value do you see in a community like Dreamers // Doers when taking the path less traveled? 

One of the things I’ve learned is that you are the people with whom you surround yourself. I happened to learn this from a terrible ex-boyfriend, but it has now also been demonstrated scientifically by a longitudinal study of health outcomes in Massachusetts. The people around you define the baseline of what is normal, acceptable, and celebrated. For me, the most important changes I’ve made in my life are the times when I’ve actively sought out the people who encourage my growth as a human being – which is to say, my capacity to impact the world.

Being immersed in a community as driven and diverse as D//D gives the greatest access possible to ambitious, creative, beautifully strange and exceptional women. Communities like this are what make change happen. Mainstream culture wants us to buy into the status symbol of existing institutions (where you went to school, what company you work for, etc.) What I love about D//D is it places emphasis on what is truly valuable: that what matters is not where you learned the skills, but what you do with them.

 

Brag about yourself: WE DARE YOU. Tell us 3 things you’re most proud of. 

In the span of five months I developed a product concept, secured the operational support of, and partnerships with, Google Crisis Response, The Liberian Government, The World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Cellcom – a major telecommunication company in Liberia and Ghana, and InSTEDD – the most experienced crisis response and mHealth tech nonprofit, and secured $200,000 USD in seed funding to launch the ACT pilot. Medecins Sans Frontieres agreed to make ACT an official pilot of the organization, something MSF has never done before during a health crisis.

ACT is officially endorsed by Liberia's National Ebola Response leadership as a tool for contact tracing and, most critically, public health surveillance along the country's porous borders. ACT is both the first system of its kind and will be the first cross-border public health surveillance system in West Africa. I did this as a one-woman team without a background in medicine or tech.

What is a personal quote or mantra you live by?

Fear is not something you run from; it is a tool that guides you towards your purpose. Click To Tweet

What would your best friend say your best quality is? 

A combination of three things: grit, a deeply felt sense of purpose, and the ability to listen. Purpose guides you to unfamiliar places and exciting challenges. Grit is what keeps you there, it’s what helps you love the really hard times as much as the moments of success. The ability to listen allows you to remove your ego from the work - to look past your own human needs, faults, and insecurities - and understand what will best advance the larger goals.

 

What gives you confidence?

Doing.

 

Thank you, Camilla. After learning more about your journey, we're in even bigger awe of you!

  Camilla3

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