Member Profile: Fabian Naidoo, Right to Care

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June 06, 2017

Member Profile: Fabian Naidoo, Right to Care

By Elizabeth Walsh

Director, Communications and Marketing

Member Profile: Fabian Naidoo, Right to Care

Our Member Profile blog series features InsideNGO members talking about their work and how they manage the operational challenges within their organizations. This month we feature Right to Care Divisional CFO Fabian Naidoo. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Fabian has been an InsideNGO member since 2013, and this year has served as an active contributor to our finance advisory council. Here he talks about his role, how Right to Care defines operational excellence, and his participation in this year’s InsideNGO Annual Conference.

Q: You’ve been with Right to Care for nearly four years. Tell us a little bit about the organization, your background, and your path to this position.

A: The Right to Care group provides a variety of health services as well as health strengthening interventions in HIV/TB, medical male circumcision, cervical cancer screening, woman and child health, prevention activities, pediatric HIV, pharmacy supply chain management, social support structures, and other health system strengthening. The group also provides management and capacity building technical assistance to various levels of the public health system and provides grants and contract management for other non-profit organizations.

These activities are funded through support from donor organizations, including USAID, the Global Fund, the Mpumalanga Department of Health, Department of Correctional Services (DCS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Western Cape Department of Health (WDOH), National Department of Health (NDOH), and other privately-funded initiatives. In October 2016, Right to Care NPC (RTC) was awarded a new international grant from USAID, Washington, which brought about the establishment of a new divisionUSAID EQUIP. Under this award, RTC seized the opportunity to expand its footprint globally, in 18 countries, with the support of four consortium partners. Of the 18 countries, RTC is directly managing operations in six countries, the others being managed by the consortium partners under the leadership of RTC.

Within our group, we have a subsidiary, Right e-Pharmacy (Pty) Ltd., which was incorporated in 2016 that supplies automated pharmaceutical solutions—an ATM supplying prescribed chronic medication—unique in Africa. Two government hospitals are currently online with this initiative, and can supply patients with chronic medication, with access to a registered pharmacist via video linkage (pictured below).

I have worked only in the public sector since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (CPA equivalent) in March 2003. I have had the opportunity of working cross-culturally and cross-functionally through my various roles, which have included risk management, internal audit, and various finance leadership positions. I have been able to work and support country offices in Haiti, Seattle (US), Mozambique, India, Netherlands and London (UK).

I was appointed CFO at Right to Care in 2013, which was a new role within a growing organization. Right to Care has evolved into a much larger organization since then, and the finance teams are now divisionalised.

Tell us a little bit about your current job responsibilities.

I am currently the divisional CFO for the South African division of our organization. My key roles include financial management, risk management, procurement, treasury, and compliance. However, I am not confined by the job description or a title; being in a non-profit allows one to grow beyond just being in a finance role.

I see my role as being a key driver in ensuring that the finance department is a business partner to our program departments, in addition to ensuring that we are responsive to our key stakeholders (donors, government, and our board).

My philosophy about my work can be summed up in this quote from Steve Jobs, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

What are some of the biggest operational challenges/issues your organization faces and how do you respond to them?

The biggest operational challenge that Right to Care is currently facing is related to the volatile foreign exchange rates due to local and international politics. There are several ways we are responding to them, and these include the automation of procurement that verifies our available budget before expenses can be approved; monthly variance reporting, and actions to ensure that expenditures are within the approved donor budgets; and ongoing review of work plan activities with the donor to determine if activities can be re-aligned, or to determine if additional funding is available.

How do you and your colleagues define operational excellence at Right to Care?

The philosophic approach of Right to Care is that a non-profit organization must be flexible, responsive, and innovative to provide quality care and prevention interventions within a framework of high standards of fund accountability and monitoring evaluation. 

Operational excellence is a common thread throughout the organization that is driven by its leadership. Within finance, we strive to ensure that the programmatic departments that are target driven based on donor requirements are supported enough in ensuring that our internal service delivery approaches result in a more efficient program department.

This year, you’ll be presenting at the InsideNGO Annual Conference on the topic “The Future of Finance.” How about a little preview of what you’ll be sharing?

I am one of the panelists, and I’ll be looking at this topic from a second/third world country view. South Africa is a country with diversity and complexity, as it matures from the effects of apartheid. The country currently has an unemployment rate of 26.5% and a forecast economic growth rate of 1.3 percent, with actual growth at -0.3 percent. Given this context, I’ll be looking at how a finance department evolves—as it could and should with the vast availability of new technology that automates manual finance processes—while still ensuring the continued employment of its skilled workforce.

What do you perceive as the value of InsideNGO membership for you and your team?

Within finance, I am currently updated with changes in USAID Rules and Regulations and with changes in the donor environment. Membership also provides me with access to a pool of electronic resources as well support from the InsideNGO Member Community, which enables me to be a more equipped leader. The webinars, courses, workshops, and forums are exceptionally well received by finance teams within the organization.

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