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Tania Holt

Tania Holt, a partner based in Johannesburg, works in healthcare across Africa.

What has been your journey to where you are today in McKinsey?

I grew up in Denmark, though my family also has roots in Mozambique, and studied in Denmark and then in the United Kingdom, specializing in healthcare economics. Two years after I joined McKinsey, in London, I transferred to the Johannesburg office to serve clients across Africa on healthcare topics.

Today I serve clients in the private, public, and social sectors on pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other healthcare topics. For me, it is a privilege to work with all of the critical organizations to advance healthcare for people across Africa. My heart is with the people of the countries I work in, all across the continent.

What can McKinsey bring to addressing societal challenges?

In the context of my work on healthcare in Africa, I think there are two areas where McKinsey brings something special.

First, we have a unique understanding of perspectives across the private, public, and social sectors. For example, I can advise my private-sector pharma clients more effectively because I have experience working with governments and social-sector players. The same is true for the other sectors.

I helped one company get oncology products to cancer patients in a new market by assisting its efforts to understand the barriers in the patient journey and to work in partnership with the government.

Second, the global nature of our firm means that we can rapidly assemble the best experts to address the toughest challenges. For example, on a project about vaccine supply chains, we were able to bring in an expert on lean operations from our Operations Practice. Within a few days of receiving our call, he was on the ground in Africa.

Tackling the world’s toughest societal issues requires collaboration between many different types of organizations. We have a privileged perspective across all sectors, so I see it as our obligation to play our part in addressing big social challenges.

Is there a project that you are particularly proud of?

I absolutely loved the project we completed recently on vaccine supply chains in one West African country.

Despite all the efforts to improve vaccination rates, vaccines were still routinely out of stock in clinics across the country some 70 to 80 percent of the time. This meant that children were often missing out on vital protection from preventable diseases.

We used a lean-operations methodology from our work with private-sector companies, looking at the process end to end and working out where the blockages and bottlenecks were occurring. The solution included delayering—for example, introducing deliveries directly to clinics rather than through complex distribution networks and creating transparency through dashboards that give managers instant access to information. After an initial pilot, the model was rolled out across the country.

The government has now reduced the time that vaccines are out of stock in clinics to less than 10 percent. So more children are protected against deadly and debilitating diseases, and that will save lives in the years to come.

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