By Page Leggett
As Carolinas HealthCare System’s chief of staff, Debra Plousha Moore oversees a workforce of more than 65,000 in the Carolinas and Georgia. On the other side of the world, Anak Bunnak manages about 100 women spread out in the rural villages around Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Moore’s teammates have access to the latest technology. Some of Bunnak’s employees lack access to running water. The duo was paired through the Global Ambassador Program, a partnership between Vital Voices, an organization that supports businesswomen around the world, and Bank of America. Bunnak is the director of VillageWorks, which sells handicrafts rural women make at home. Moore is her mentor. They were among 24 female executives and their mentees who gathered in Charlotte recently, the first time the global program has visited the U.S. Moore, 63, a veteran educator and human resources director, calls it a humbling experience.
How did you get involved with Global Ambassadors?
Bank of America approached Carolinas HealthCare System about becoming part of this group. We liked that it involved leadership, accountability and being present.
Your mentee is from Cambodia. What was it like to meet in person?
There were breakthroughs for both of us. We reviewed her mission, strategies, financials and talked about her workforce. Some of them struggle with polio, something that isn’t an issue for most of the rest of the world.
She’s giving the women of rural Cambodia the opportunity to use handicrafts — beautiful silk scarves — to earn a living. She wants to uplift. If women are thriving, then the children and their entire village will thrive.
Before meeting Anak, if I used the word “social,” it was usually in front of “justice” or “change.” Now, I talk about social enterprises and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations].
I have a new language now.
Together, Anak and I worked on her business plan. Her business model allows women to work from home using their country’s natural resources and sell their beautiful goods through the World Fair Trade Organization.
Did you buy a scarf?
I’m wearing one now. And I placed a large order.
What were Anak’s breakthroughs?
There are things we take for granted in this country that she has to face. She doesn’t always have access to running water or fuel. Her growth plan has to take into account utilities that may not be there when she needs them. We broke up her tasks into chunks to make them more manageable. … Anak demonstrated to me true servant leadership. She’s making personal sacrifices to advance her country.
What advice would you give women just starting their careers?
I’d say five things:
Be kind to yourself.
Become a master of your work.
Be generous with your time, money and knowledge.
Support other women.
Pay attention to your community. It’s the greatest investment you can make.
You may not always be able to do all of them at once. At some point, your family may be your primary focus. But then you see a slight opening, and you can add community service to your balancing act.
health care is on many minds right now. What is CHS doing to influence the debate?
Our president and CEO, Gene Woods, is chairman of the American Hospital Association, so he is absolutely engaged in the current and future state of health care. We’re in a state of constant change but always with an eye to patients’ needs.
Photo of Deborah Moore and Anak Bunnak provided by David Hume Kennerly/Carolinas Healthcare