Mina Ohata
Investment Strategy, Planning & Management
From GHIT, to Pharma, and Back Again

Currently, I manage a series of processes for GHIT’s Investment Strategy, Planning & Management Department, from soliciting applications to determining investment targets for the development of new tools, as well as communicating and coordinating with our external partners and staff to evaluate the progress of each project after investment.

This is my second role at GHIT. My first was a year-long internship during college in 2013; my internship began right after GHIT first launched. At that time, GHIT had a staff of 10, including interns. Everything moved very quickly and I had the opportunity to take on many important assignments. I enjoyed creating materials and frameworks that will continue to be used in the future.

I wanted to continue working for GHIT after graduation, but I recognized that I need to gain more real-world experience, and so I chose to find a role in the private sector. I worked at a pharmaceutical company for about three years, first as a medical representative, promoting and providing information about the products I handled to doctors and pharmacists working at hospitals and pharmacies in Chiba City, and then in the Marketing Department in the company’s head office.

Moving from GHIT, to pharma, then back to GHIT actually felt like a very natural career progression. At the pharma company, I spoke with doctors daily and learned a great deal about communicating effectively with medical personnel. This experience also proved useful when I returned to GHIT and began to work regularly with researchers. Additionally, the pharmaceutical company had a rigorous approach to compliance, which I took very much to heart. The ethos at GHIT is the same. My current position requires stringent attention to scientific excellence, transparency, and fairness.

A Desire to Help People

In my role at the pharma company, I was able to see the direct, positive impact of the company’s products on patient health, for example when doctors selected the products for their patients, who in turn experienced better quality of life as a result of them. Knowing that I played a small part in delivering these products was extremely gratifying.

As a child, I had traveled to Philippines, where I witnessed children of my own age or younger doing manual labor instead of going to school. Many could not afford food or the daily necessities that I took for granted. Of those I met who were in school, many could not afford basic supplies; nevertheless, their energy and smiles shone radiantly. Since then, I have want to find work that would enable me to support developing countries to increase quality of life and prosperity. In 2017, my desire to work in a field where I could contribute more directly to underserved populations became overwhelming, and I knew I had to make a change. A position just happened to be available at GHIT, so I decided to apply. This time, I was offered the opportunity to work not as an intern but as a regular employee.

Upon my return to GHIT, I was struck again (as I had been as an intern) by the team’s diversity and depth of experience. I recognized that my colleagues had knowledge and background that I lack. I continue to learn new things from them and am inspired to improve my skills every day. Furthermore, GHIT has a culture in which we can voice our opinions and ideas regardless of our age or position in the company. If you have the right ideas, you can also set up projects and see them through to completion. Although the work can be challenging, there is so much to experience, and I have grown tremendously as a result.

Aiming for Impeccable Detail Management

My most memorable new experience over the past year was managing the January 2018 Selection Committee meeting, where participants come together from across the globe to evaluate GHIT’s investment projects. It was my first time to manage such a meeting, and there was so much to do, including detailed arrangements from the planning stage to preparations and management on the day, but with the support of the other people involved, I was able to gain knowledge and experience. While organizing the meeting, I also needed to perform my regular duties, and this taught me the importance of multitasking and effective time management.

On the day of the meeting, the committee members and applicants thanked me for the great hospitality and detailed preparations, which made me incredibly happy. I was relieved the event concluded on a successful note. The next Selection Committee meeting is due to take place in June, and I am now preparing for that with the aim of making it even better.

Working Together as a Single Team

GHIT is a small organization. When you walk into the office, you can immediately see the faces of all your colleagues. This is precisely why we must work well as a team, talking a lot as a group and respecting one another. I communicate with my colleagues as much as possible every day, and consciously strive to engage with every single member of the team. My previous company encouraged frank, constructive dialogue and straight-talk, which might have influenced me.

We engage with our external partners in much the same way. During my daily communications about investments and projects, I know that I am recognized as a representative of GHIT—a tight, dynamic, and high-performing team, which encourages me.

Getting Medicines to Those Who Need Them

In April 2018, GHIT entered its second five-year phase, during which it will work toward the goal of advancing two products to market. It is extremely exiting to be involved in this challenge. In the future, I want to be involved as a member of GHIT right up to the moment when patients themselves are accessing the medicines that our investments made possible. Since our inception, we have shouldered the expectations of a variety of stakeholders, including our funding and product development partners, so my colleagues and I all carry a sense of vigilance and responsibility. When GHIT succeeds in releasing products, I think this will also encourage researchers and doctors in fields where development has not yet progressed, as well as stimulating healthy competition.

It means so much to me to have been involved in this company as an intern during its first year, and to return here as a full-time employee at the five-year milestone. In this richly diverse workplace, I intend to continue working enthusiastically each day, cherishing my interaction with others and striving toward the organizational and further personal growth.

Mina Ohata
Investment Strategy, Planning & Management

Mina Ohata is Manager of Investment Strategy, Planning & Management, leading a series of processes from soliciting applications to determining investment targets, as well as managing the progress of each project after investment. Previously, she held Medical Representative and Marketing roles at Pfizer, Inc., for a little over three years. Before that, she worked as an intern for GHIT during the institution’s first year of operations, focusing on preparation of investment process and system introduction manuals. She holds Bachelor of Arts in Law from Hosei University.

*Affiliation and position are as of the time of the interview.


Mina Ohata

Investment Strategy
Planning & Management

Isaac T. Chikwanha, MBChB, MPH

Senior Director
Investment Strategy,
Access & Delivery

*Affiliation and position are as of the time of the interview.