Start Center - Strategic Analysis, Research & Training Center
START Center



This spring, two Global Innovation Fellows are graduating from the Strategic Analysis, Research & Training (START) Center’s training program, both having also completed their MBA from the Foster School of Business this June. Below, learn more about our impressive graduates and the work they completed while engaged with START.





Brendan received his bachelor’s degree in Global and International Studies from the University of California Santa Barbara. Upon graduation, Brendan taught supplemental educational and extracurricular programs at a nonprofit in Los Angeles before moving on to teach English in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. Most recently, he worked for nearly five years in the durable medical equipment field where he led a customer experience and sales team to improve patient care and build strong relationships with local healthcare facilities.

Brendan worked on five projects during his one-year engagement at START, acting as the Project Manager for two of them. Brendan provided his respective teams with strategic support through a business lens. Below are highlights from two of the projects Brendan worked on:

  • Voice Recognition and Development Impact: The team conducted a case study analyses of eight organizations utilizing voice recognition in Africa and India to understand market forces, business models, and customers as well as the barriers and opportunities to increasing the use of voice technology for development in these regions. Brendan was the Project Manager for this project.
  • Knowledge Management for Advocacy Successes and Learnings: The START team conducted a short literature review on knowledge management (KM), analyzed seven organizations’ KM practices by interviewing relevant employees and conducting a survey of interviewees at each organization, and provided recommendations that revolved around three themes (Culture, Processes, and Resources) to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to improve their KM system. Brendan served as Project Manager for this project.
  • Unintended Consequences of Viral Funding: The START team conducted a case study analysis of the five major viral fundraising campaigns held in recent years to understand the unintended consequences of viral fundraising. Each study investigated the cause behind the campaign virality and its impact on the non-profit recipients, as well as the common factors behind the viral fundraising campaigns and their overall impact on the non-profit sector. The team presented their recommendations of ways to increase philanthropic giving to BMGF.

This spring Brendan joined Providence as a Manager of Business Operations. Brendan graduated with his MBA in June.



Adaobi received her bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from the American University of Nigeria and master’s degree in Finance from Cranfield University, England. Before joining the Foster School, Adaobi was a management consultant at KPMG and Deloitte as well as a banker; her professional experience cuts across organization restructuring, strategy development, process improvement and project management. Before joining START, Adaobi interned at Adobe as a Data Science Program Manager in the Digital, Video & Audio (DVA) Engineering Group. Adaobi is passionate about using technology to improve businesses and communities; she intends to pursue a career in technology post-MBA.

Adaobi worked on five projects during her one-year engagement at START, acting as the Project Manager for one of them. Adaobi provided her respective teams with strategic support through a business lens. Below are highlights from two of the projects Adaobi worked on:

  • Understanding COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy among Nigerian Healthcare Providers: The team was tasked by BMGF to gather information on types of Nigerian healthcare providers, and the themes driving COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among them in order to determine a messaging approach that will be effective input for a media campaign to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Nigerian healthcare providers. Adaobi served as the Project Manager for this project.
  • LFAs for COVID-19: The START team was engaged by BMGF to provide a landscaping of the current global market and production capacity for the nitrocellulose analytical membrane components of lateral flow assays (LFAs), operating under the assumption that this would be a key bottleneck for LFA manufacturers as test developers are asked to scale up production for COVID-19 rapid antigen tests. The team tested this assumption and created an informative landscaping presentation through key informant interviews with LFA test developers and nitrocellulose membrane producers.
  • Pathogen Genomic Sequencing Use Cases in Africa: The aim of this project was to support strategic thinking surrounding use-cases to communicate the value of genomic sequencing in Africa. Specific objectives included developing an approach to prioritizing pathogen genomic sequencing (PGS) use cases based on a country’s disease burden, public health priorities, and potential public health impact of PGS, using case-studies, landscape use-cases of PGS that may be of greatest public health value, and proposing an approach to estimating the economic value of investing in PGS capacity for public health in Africa. To complete these objectives, the START team met with key informants, reviewed academic and grey literature, researched infectious disease burden across countries, assessed current capacity, priorities, and needs across countries, compiled prior applications of PGS, and determined national, regional, and global priorities related to PGS.

This June, Adaobi graduated with her MBA. She is joining Adobe as a Program Manager in July.

These two graduates will continue to engage with START’s extensive alumni network, established in 2011. START often invites alumni to share their experiences after graduating from the training program at all-team meetings and, additionally, taps into the alumni network for content expertise on projects. The alumni network is comprised of highly skilled START graduate professionals employed in global health, business, public policy and consulting across disciplines.