How to start a public health podcast, with WHO’s Global Health Matters Podcast host Garry Aslanyan

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Dr. Garry Aslanyan, the Manager of Partnerships and Governance with the World Health Organization and host of the Global Health Matters podcast. They discuss what the TDR is, how the Global Health Matters podcast came to be, and advice for anyone thinking of starting their own podcast.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What the TDR is and how they are helping to connect and advance public health around the world
  • How the “Global Health Matters” podcast came to be
    • Highlights and topics of interest that have been covered on the podcast
  • The advantages of using podcast as a medium for knowledge dissemination 
  • What skill sets and team members may be needed to run a podcast
  • What costs and resources should be taken into consideration
  • Advice on pitching a new podcast project
  • Other advice for anyone thinking of starting their own podcast

Today’s Guest:

As Manager of Partnerships and Governance, Dr Garry Aslanyan is responsible for TDR’s wide range of engagements with global health stakeholders, including mobilizing programme resources and TDR’s governing bodies. TDR has a unique relationship with co-sponsors: UNICEF, World Bank, UNDP and WHO. This includes applying research evidence in global health programming of the co-sponsors and collaborating with six regional WHO offices which is overseen by Dr Aslanyan, including the highly successful impact grants tackling public health challenges in those regions. In addition, Dr Aslanyan is the Head of the ESSENCE on Health Research Secretariat that provides support to its Steering Committee and funding agencies which are members of ESSENCE to move forward on various activities.

Garry is also the host of the highly popular Global Health Matters podcast and leads its production team.

Dr Aslanyan is Canadian, with a background in dentistry, public health, research/innovation management, health policy/systems as well as global health diplomacy. Prior to joining TDR, Dr Aslanyan has taken on various roles that allowed him to lead various organizational and technical innovations and is a recognized leader in global public health. As well as holding senior executive positions within Canada’s federal government and as the past President of the Ontario Public Health Association, Dr Garry Aslanyan has experiences living and working across the world including in Brazil, South Africa, Armenia, Barbados and Vietnam.

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript

Garry 0:00
We’re really enjoying the feedback and interaction that the very remote places or places globally, that listen, and we reached. And that was really one of the triggers to continue. And we really felt that we’re doing something that really has a lot of resonance.

Sujani 0:25
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly, right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva, from PH SPOT.

Hi, Garry, and welcome to the PH SPOT podcast. It’s so lovely to finally you know, put a face to a name and you know, back and forth LinkedIn messages. So this is a wonderful opportunity for me to get to hear about all the great work that you’re doing.

Garry 0:56
Hi, Sujani. Great to be with you today.

Sujani 0:59
Awesome. So I often start at the very beginning, for a lot of my guests, you know, we start off with how they discovered public health and how they got to where they are right now. But I think it’s interesting for me to start with where you are today, especially because you hold two, I want to say complementary roles at the World Health Organization, and especially the topic that we’re going to talk about today around podcasting in public health, I think it just makes a lot of sense for our listeners to kind of hear about where you are today and what your role kind of entails.

Garry 1:38
Sure. So I’m based in Geneva, I’ve been here for over 10 years, and I work for a program within WHO World Health Organization. So Geneva is the headquarters of WHO we have regional offices all over the world and country offices in over 100 countries. So the presence is quite global. Our program is focused on research and support for capacity building, it’s called TDR, focusing on what we used to call tropical diseases, although the world has moved on, and the program has been around 50 years. So TDR is a research funder. knowledge broker capacity, building strong focus is main part of our work. But we’re also in WHO which is a global public health agency, of sorts, right, with members, Member States, Canada is a member and so are the other 190 Something countries. So in a way, this really isn’t a good place to be for a research and capacity building program, because you’re really next door to the policy and implementer part, the public health part of global health or public health in countries.

Sujani 3:02
And so when you when you say capacity building, what sort of areas are you focused on? And and who’s kind of your, I want to say, like population that you’re working with?

Garry 3:14
Very good question. And it’s really, increasingly clear. And I’m sure this is for all health professionals, that the need for capacity in producing evidence through research, especially locally, in places where that evidence is needed, is really not equally distributed globally, for various reasons. I mean, not to mention many, but basically economic inequalities in the world. So that reflects in the capacities in country. So not every country has the number of researchers or number of those who produce evidence and then people who use that evidence to guide local health policies and local implementation practice of public health. So the program, identify that gap over 50 years ago and try to bring different interested parties from different parts of the world, both high income and low and middle income countries into this program that we are working at and pull, you know, resources, financial and technical. And then try and identify the areas in the world where additional training would be needed through different approaches and schemes. So over 50 years that you know, stretched from basic research in biomedical research to clinical trial and diagnostic research and now we have more focused on implementation research, public health research to support more in in that area. But the change has not been because of anything but increased interest in other partners and including countries to invest in these other places. So we have now identified implementation kind of research capacity. And that goes through mph programs that we universities that produce mph graduates in eight universities globally, all in low and middle income countries. That’s one approach where we support the curriculum change between those universities when it comes to mph, as well as focus on implementation research. And the students in that mph focus on a project using implementation research methodology to answer you know, a public health issue of interest. Then we have regional centers where we work with an institution in the region, I mean, itself, it’s already an established institution where we’re collaborating with us, as well as collaborating with other similar regional institutions. They offer training in specific areas of research. And this is more shorter term, they might be, you know, one or two week courses, or a month course, or a massive online course on Basics of implementation research or advanced implementation research. So these regional centers are there they are in each region of WHO in Africa, Latin America, in Eastern Europe, in Southeast Asia, western Pacific and Middle East. And they have all their unique kind of specifics in terms of their main focus might be in ethics of research, or in implementation research or in other aspects. But then being part of that network with us, they also are able to share those advantages between each other. And of course, there’s the language issue in regions, etc. Although English is more or less uniting us there, but those who take advantage of that kind of capacity building process or capacity strengthening process, they work in different settings and different languages. So that’s a couple of examples of how being in a global setting we are as a program in the WHO science division, and WHO has beefed up its science capacity, we have achieved scientists who has been instrumental in communicating WHO knows position when it comes to science, during pandemic and otherwise. So we sit in there, but at a given year, the 30 people in our program interact with about 900 people all over the world through different modalities.

Sujani 8:19
And so all of this training, I’m assuming there’s a hybrid approach to it. Are you in their home countries delivering all this training in person or with representatives there? And is it also done virtually?

Garry 8:33
Right. So before pandemic, already, we have engaged based on the needs as well, coming from the regional training centers, or from the universities, we already engaged in online interaction. So at least two or three different ways through massive online courses, or hybrid modules of training. So that’s already started before pandemic in fact, because for example, if you take the regional center in Colombia in Americas, they don’t only engage in Colombia. So they are they’re only going to limit themselves if we’re doing everything face to face. So they engage with Central America or other parts of South America. So they already started doing that. But pandemic accelerated that for various reasons. Anything but clear for everyone. So that’s been there. And this is the thing, we don’t parachute ourselves and go there and do things ourselves with them. We do but very rarely, and that’s not the idea. The idea is, you know, institutions in their own right, and universities in their own right that can do and they benefit from this global network interaction support, support for students that otherwise will not attend their programs, let’s say in Africa, we have university in Ghana, and another one in Senegal. So one in French and one in English. And students, mph students go there from all over Africa, we have a universe in India that now is accepting mph students from Middle East and from India and from Pakistan or other countries. This is not done from here.

Sujani 10:31
Right, right.

Garry 10:32
So that’s important to make that distinction. And being in that network allows this institutions to learn from each other, let’s say we have, one of them is strong focus in implementation, Science University of Gaggia Mata in Indonesia. And it really is being able to share that with a university in Bangladesh. And even in Kazakhstan, we facilitated that interaction, and we worked to network these institutions. But the main work is done by these institutions,

Sujani 11:10
Your role that you’ve been in for almost 10 years is well fitting, because I think you manage partnerships and governance. And it sounds like there’s lots and lots of stakeholders and organizations that you have to bring together within this network.

Garry 11:26
Right. And it’s, as I said earlier, the program itself is a kind of a partnership, where you have countries and institutions who have come to create and support, and they are part of our board, and they oversee the work of our program. And all that interaction is important. And also, we also pride ourselves on the most up to date and scientifically and otherwise technically sound, know how when it comes to capacity building. So we have world leaders and world experts on committees that give us that advice. So bringing them together and going through that kind of facilitation. If you were to ask me, what does your day job on a given day include, that would be a lot of that would be convening that through which emerges the best known, let’s say, approach to a certain problem or certain capacity strengthening, designed approach. So we rely on global experts who help us with that. So a lot of my work is in convening and helping convene those groups, with my colleagues who are focusing in capacity building or implementation research or knowledge management or other aspects. But convening is a big part of that. And I think the other maybe important thing is Global Health has become a quite complex world for good. It’s not a criticizing its complexity. It’s actually welcome. Because there wasn’t as much of a focus on health or global health, let’s say 20 years ago, but now you have many actors doing a lot of things, many more funders, emerging funders in countries, a lot of middle income countries have invested in this themselves. So managing that web of different players is extremely important and trying to coordinate and also align, and, you know, ensure that even with that increased interest, still, the resources are not infinite, right? So you want to do things that really make a difference.

Sujani 14:08
Brings me to the objective of today’s episode. And it’s podcasting in public health. And I’m curious to hear the origin story, especially after you kind of made the statement about, you know, being efficient with the resources, we have to achieve some of these goals. So just about two years ago, your team launched the Global Health Matters podcast. And so you’re the host and excellent podcasts. I mean, such great quality that comes out of that. Tell us about the origin story of that. And I think, you know, I could speak to an individual launching a podcast and I bet the process is very different compared to being situated within this institution that has such a global recognition and to be able to put out a product like that, I think a lot of our listeners who are part of organizations who have been thinking about maybe unique ways of reaching their target audiences and have considered podcasts, I think your experience and what you know your team has done to date would be super, super valuable. So here, we can kind of go back to when this idea initially presented itself, either to you or someone on the team.

Garry 15:26
Yeah, so I became a bit of a follower of podcast myself. So that really comes from my personal interest in that I’ve listened to different types in terms of their focus or their style. And then I realized that there wasn’t really much in the sort of global health field. And I couldn’t believe that and I started looking a bit more closely. And there were some, but maybe not in a genre that I thought would be more accessible. So I thought, is this something we can do? Or is this something that be possible to. I started looking into that. I think that’s what started it. I think I’ve also listened to some podcasts that really reflected on public health. And then it seemed that there is really that need. And I mean, one thing led to another. So I’ve proposed as a way, and of course, this came at a time of limited travel because of the restrictions. And reaching out to various partners became a bit harder, we obviously learned a lot in terms of how much we can do virtually. So that was really one of the points. And also, I mentioned this global health being very complex, it also has a bit of sort of niche silo areas. So there will be you know, people who are doing one type of thing, only infectious diseases, or only non communicable diseases, or only global health that happens around WHO with member states, or the there is a global health that happens on Twitter. That’s a whole other world. And so I don’t know if these worlds actually somewhere meet. So that was another thing to see. I mean, we are a program that focuses on research and evidence and capacity building and more on infectious diseases. But what we’ve proposed was to be broader to be public health professionals, policymakers around the world, who’ve made a difference. And the most important thing, and that’s a personal experience, many podcasts I listened to, I was inspired at the end of them, like I would feel very personally reflecting on some of the experiences of people and comparing them to my own, or comparing them to the environments I work or live or interact with people. And I felt that why can’t we use the podcast to inspire that? That was really the history of it. And then I propose that as a way to go about it. I mean, we’ve tried to look at who can work with us, who knows about podcasting. And I have done some public speaking. And I have many letters after my name, but none of them are in media or in communication or anything like that. So supported by my director. And also then, when we released it, obviously, our partners, or our board are those who found us, they both had a really positive and extremely supportive message to us. And really, underlying this, that every episode gives them a sense of reflection on what does it mean to my own setting my own country. Can I do this? How does that work, etc, etc. So with that immediate, positive support, we felt that we should go. And that was another thing that I’ve noticed, when searching for podcasts that there were some that started with one or two episodes, three episodes, and then stopped.

Sujani 19:30

Garry 19:31
And I felt, what is it? And so this is maybe the lesson learned for those who might be looking into this, doing it at different kinds of levels be done, local global, in Canada, otherwise, to keep that in mind that it takes time. Right. The impact is not measured the next morning, and we know this for sure, because we released episodes almost a year and a half ago now. I get the reports of downloads, and I know people listen to them now, even if it may not sound that that’s what people would do. Right? So there is an episode on women in science, one of the early ones, and every week people go to that. So it’s not to be discouraged that you don’t get your audience or your participation the next morning after releasing. So. And there were some really inspiring topics, climate change, and its effect on health, especially in low income countries that was really highly appreciated, I know by the traffic of people are writing emails, or communication. And it relates to this discussion we are having about podcasting, communication of science or communication of public health, some of the guests from different parts of the world, and the really, really high interest from people. And another topic I was quite high and continues to be receiving a lot of feedback is this whole decolonization of global health. Although if you listen to the episode, you might reconsider using that terminology all together, these are just highlights of how we’ve built every time on season one, and then we build more, and then we decided to go with Season Two. And everyone in the team is very enthusiastic, I mean, people would do things over and above. Because if you really see the interaction, right, it that’s very different. I mean, I’ve switched from kind of clinical professional into more public health professional. So you sometimes don’t see the beneficiary right away, you have to kind of make an effort. And then here, when you have that interaction with your audience, and people write to you and all of that, I think that kind of inspires us as a team. Because we kind of see, you know, 185 countries.

Sujani 22:05

Garry 22:05
Thousands and thousands of downloads, that kind of makes people very excited to continue because it fills the gap. So I think whoever is thinking of this, there are many advantages to- to think about it.

Sujani 22:20
Yeah, I think when you kind of reflected on your own experience, as a podcast listener, and how you felt connected to the individuals are, you’re left inspired. I think that’s exactly it, right? Like, it’s so special to be able to hear somebody’s voice in your ear for whether it’s 20 minutes or an hour, just talking about a topic that you’re so interested about or passionate about. And just say in the context of research and public health. Imagine the difference that a peer reviewed article and a podcast kind of reflecting on that research each have. And I think if you can get into the ears of, quote, unquote, your readers of your research paper, for example, and talk through your research, the findings, and kind of all the personal reflections you’ve had that were not captured in the paper, I think the ability to disseminate that knowledge is much more effective. And I yeah, I just think there’s just so many advantages of it. And regardless of what your organization puts out, I think a podcast can be an excellent kind of complementary tool to communicate the work that you’re doing.

Garry 23:32
Yeah. And I mean, again, it’s it can be different angles. Right?

Sujani 23:32

Garry 23:34
I think the other thing for us, extremely, extremely important is reaching guests that otherwise may or may not feel that they are, you know, part of the global health discussion. And maybe if we started this podcast five years ago, I would have to take a recorder with me when I’m traveling and record our discussions, and then we’ll cover that together. But pandemic had a positive effect on that. I mean, I didn’t have anyone in very remote parts who, of the world where bandwidth may or may not be the perfect one. But I never had anyone asking me questions about what is the headset? Or what is this platform? Or what is this and how do we record it, it was already done for me, you know, they were already ready to engage. And this really made a difference. And we do really pride ourselves as a podcast as Global Health Matters podcast we pride ourselves on really, the guests that we bring and the voices that may or may not always be part of the discourse.

Sujani 24:50
Absolutely. Just kind of going back to when you initially pitched this idea, how much of the planning or brainstorming did you do? you’re kind of on your own before you brought it to your director to even kind of, you know, propose it as a potential idea for your team to take on?

Garry 25:08
Maybe the brainstorming really was individual kind of my own experience or understanding. And probably, if I was to look back, I probably would have done two things differently. Because I really was very naive in terms of understanding how all of that works. And it’s not to scare anyone, but it does sound easy. But in reality, it’s not. And it’s okay. I think what- what helped me in that process, and maybe this is good advice to give is not to try to do everything with this sort of project of podcasts. So to say, Okay, we are going to concentrate on these kinds of results, we want to get out of this, although there’s so much else we can do. So I think that kind of pragmatic approach to the project, as probably you do with anything, really, I think that one needs to keep, because if you really look all over, and you listen to a lot of the podcast help that is out there, some of it is free, you may get overwhelmed, because you think, oh my god, I have to do that. And I have to know that and I have to do this and oh my god, this and this, and how is that? They were heard of that thing, or never heard of that word? Or, you know, dissemination and promotion, etc. So, I’ve always went in that direction. But it saved me that I kind of stopped and said, No, no, let’s focus. This is what we need to do. 1234. Okay, can we do this? Okay, yes, see who can do it? Okay, can you help? Can you help? No, we don’t have anyone who is working on audio engineering. Okay, let’s find someone who can help with that, we need a bit more in depth understanding of some of the global health issues from someone who actually is an expert, as well, we can also help search for that information. And then we engage someone like that. And I mean, the team is all over the world. It’s not just all in Geneva, and we obviously meet virtually. So that’s another thing, not everything should be done by one person. So it’s impossible. Sure, sure. There could be like an overall shared vision, and all of that, to kind of achieve these goals. But we’ve also identified these roles on the go. I can’t say that at the beginning, we knew everything of who is doing what precisely that chose emerged. Yeah, if you do a podcast, first of all, don’t do it alone. Well, you could but unless you’re Peter Mansbridge, I guess. But in global health is very complex, in terms of the variety of topics, the variety of angles, the sensitivity, around a where in the world, it plays out, and it’s not equal everywhere. So you do want to do a good job in understanding. So having a good understanding of it before you speak with your guests is important. You know, sometimes they joke when they say, Oh, I read your book, and it was great. But in reality, they never read the book. But you can, I mean, I cannot go to guests and start talking to them without doing the background. And of course, I cannot do the background myself. So we have to do it as a team. Because it really is also trust, in terms of we reach out to really community leaders, we reach out to policymakers, researchers in countries. And it’s it is not possible to not really have a very productive conversation without projecting the basic understanding what we’re doing, but that takes time. So that’s, I think, another advice to really know the focus of the conversation , etc.

Sujani 29:18
And your team members, were they individuals who you are already working with directly on a day to day basis, I think I had heard you kind of say that you reached out to see who had these kinds of expertise. And so you know, anyone who’s part of a larger organization, they have their immediate team members, but it sounds like you tapped into additional teams to see are there other people who could come in on this mission and make this work part of their deliverables as well as that kind of understanding of how you approached it?

Garry 29:52
Yes, part of that definitely is what it is. And each aspect of it can be done by colleagues who are are better in one thing rather than another thing. So that definitely was like one important kind of way of saying who can do what. But some things just we don’t have that in house. So the producer for the show is from outside, who did engage with us on films and on other kinds of communication of global health, but not podcast. So it was good for her to be already in this world. And she has helped with, you know, switching to the podcast style of the work. So that’s one. And then, of course, the audio engineer, who, in fact, he was the only person who had previous experience with producing podcasts of all of us, he was the only one because he helped with other podcasts before. And that was really the advantage. So in the early days, it was extremely good to hear his insights. And then we also engage more of a community engagement dissemination partners that are based in well, this current partner is based in South Africa. But to understand the listener in our listener, and how to basically find that year, the interested year, I mean, there are many years that we can penetrate, obviously, to get to them and to reach those audiences. But those two could take advantage of the podcast, we try to get to them. Now, can they? Or should they? Or can they find time? That’s a whole other discussion. But we try to make sure that those who need to hear hence, this partner organization does a lot of help in terms of looking at who are the stakeholders like we’re releasing an episode focused on health of refugees and migrants. So that is really another world of organizations, with their own audiences who focus on migration, and refugees, health is part of it, but it’s not all of it. So reaching to those audiences, we do have also help that we have to engage with other outside partners.

Sujani 32:31
So I remember, you know, when you were talking about TDRS mandate and mission and some of the work you were doing, you mentioned, there were about 900 people within the network. So, you know, these partner organizations are helping you get to people in addition to those 900 people, because I’m assuming you would also, you know, market to these 900 people that you already have within your network. Okay.

Garry 32:57
Yes, yes. 900 or more, I think, yes, it’s in 10s of 1000s, in terms of people who are actually on the list of our podcasts and of newsletter. But yes, obviously, every time we produce an episode, we also see are there people we already know, or people we will already work with? Or can people help us in setting a certain angle on a question or issue that we want to discuss with guests, or engage a guest? Yeah, definitely, those networks and those relationships are used to the full extent.

Sujani 33:35
I know you kind of said, don’t worry about building up your entire team, right from the beginning, because you’ll kind of understand the needs that your podcast will have. But just based on your description of the various activities. Would you say your team is made up of maybe like five or six people working on the podcasts on the side of their desk? This is not their main job?

Garry 33:58
Yeah, so nobody’s job at within TDR is only podcast, I mean, I call thing on as well. But we kind of ended up identifying roles for us. So if that is at all helpful, I mean, I’m happy to speak to that. But I mean, it’s overall I mean me as a host as the sort of executive producer of it. And then we have a producer as I mentioned who is global health expert, who does a lot of the production choices and we discuss and we arrive at those episode, identification, guests, preparatory kind of work in storyline questions, etc. Then we have the audio engineer and editor who transforms all of that raw recording into episodes but also guides a lot of the process. Then we have design and marketing specialist who helps with podcasts brand or set communication, dissemination, objectives, along with values of the podcast, and then marketing kind of material, so on social media and otherwise. And then again, I mentioned that we do specifically try to reach out to audiences, we can, WHO networks, others, etc. So that’s also done a part of the process, then we have an editor who helps with editing the transcripts that we then download in different languages, in fact, so again, that’s someone who has a strong side of her work, then we have webmaster or design, somebody who works on our website already. So she also designs the website, using the different promotional materials, etc. So how many I mean, 6, 7, 8 people?

Sujani 35:59
Yeah, that’s wonderful. Yeah, it kind of just gives people a sense of, you know, what type of talent or skills they should be on the lookout for if there are interests within the organization to maybe larger podcasts, you know, keep an eye out for those kinds of skills.

Garry 36:15
Yeah, and I’m happy to I mean, people can reach out to me on my twitter garryaslanyan, or email, I’m sure you have that, I’m happy to interact with them as needed. There’s no problem with that and share experiences, because I have myself reached out to others in the time when we started doing it as well.

Sujani 36:37
Yeah, it might sound overwhelming as Garry’s going through these different roles. But I think, you know, we’re at a point where there are a lot of great tools and resources that are available for podcasting. So it does seem overwhelming. And you know, when I started three years ago, it really did feel overwhelming. But I think, yeah, just fascinating. All the great tools that are available, for example, you know, the transcribing, I don’t know what tool you use, but there are software where you upload the audio, and it auto transcribes for you. And it just requires minor editing and editing.

Garry 37:14

Sujani 37:14
And while you have you have the transcript ready for publication, so those are great tools, and it might sound overwhelming, but it’s just identifying the people that have the right skills and putting it all together. I’m sure another question on people’s minds, Garry is resources. Were there any budgets that you had to work into this project? And if so, like, what was that process? Like? Or yeah, how did you kind of navigate that?

Garry 37:41
Obviously, having all of these different tools requires some investment be that recording platforms, and then also dissemination of the podcast on main, I mean, Global Health Matters is on all Apple and Spotify and Google and other podcast platforms. So that costs not a lot. But it that cost I mean, some equipment has a cost, right? For good quality microphones or good quality equipment. And also, if you are to engage with different experts, and different people with specific skills, so who are helping that also incurs some cost, design and other processes, as well. When you engage with people who are working and professional in those fields, then you also have to plan for that. There are some again, good tools, as you said, in terms of even disseminating on social media that may need less tedious, you can use one that could then put on all others, etc. And then you reach to all current sort of social media tools. There are some ways to do that. But yes, definitely, in the process of switching from season one to season two, and then we’re hoping we’ll start very soon. Season three, we also invest in a bit of an independent, someone who is not immediately working with us, and who is let’s say working in global health out there, and not really kind of focused on one thing or another, not to be kind of biased in one area or the other. So I believe, engage those professionals to help us search for or propose to what are the main conversations or main topics or maybe issues that are there, which do not yet have enough coverage or are neglected in a way or are of interest or would be In important to include, that can actually give you a lot of material. So you have to also be kind of careful how best to select that. So we have also engaged those kinds of experts, that or colleagues who are not working with us. So that also kind of needs some compensation not astronomical, that gives you a mirror kind of a view of what’s out there. And you don’t you have to look at yourself in the mirror. You don’t have to kind of navel gaze, and then this can be given as a more of a impartial view of what we should cover.

Sujani 40:41
And how did you or your team kind of decide on the style for the podcast? Like some people take a conversational approach. And you know, for you, I’ve recognized that anything, all of your episodes have multiple guests that you’re having conversations with. So, you know, how are we going to structure our podcast? Was that something that just sort of evolved after the first one you realize, okay, you know, having multiple guests as nice as continue that? Or is that something that was intentional? Part of the planning process, where you kind of sat down with your team and said, these are very complex issues, let’s have multiple brains talking about it?

Garry 41:20
Yeah, so maybe it didn’t start that way. But I mean, we have to be also pragmatic in a way that we have guests from all over the world, different time zones, different connectivity issues. So sometimes it’s not completely possible. So if you look at our style, of course, multiple guests, but multiple guests, sometimes together, multiple guests, not always together, multiple guests in different ways. So, I mean, we figured out how to do these things, virtually, we are yet to figure out how to make timezones disappear. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. So we also have to look at that, right. So that also adds an additional layer of complexity. But it also gives us a way to style it differently. Sometimes, there is less of me, sometimes there is more of me, as a host in terms of narrating. So there are different ways. And we’ve heard people liked all different styles. So I can’t say there’s one style.

Sujani 42:28
Yeah, just reflecting back on everything you’ve told us about how you initiated the idea and launch the podcast. To me, you know, if I were to approach a proposal to my you know, organization, I’d go with the idea first, maybe a soft pitch to my director to see, you know, is there interest there, and then go back with more of a detailed plan to say, you know, this is how we could put together a team, this is how we could release the episode, these are some proposed episodes that we could start with. And kind of going back to your point on, you’ve seen a number of podcasts that have launched and kind of stopped with three, four episodes, and they’ve never continued after that. That’s something also that I was cognizant of, and putting systems in place so that I wouldn’t be at a point where I wouldn’t have an episode release. And I think that there’s that consistency, once you build the audience, they expect you to show up, they expect you to release something. So you know, I think yours airs every month. So that’s a great way to start to see you know, how does that feel for our team? Let’s release one every month, do a year of that. And if you’re getting great feedback, people want more than maybe every other week, and then every week, and if you really want every day, right? So I think you know, there’s a soft pitch that I would go with, and then maybe a somewhat of a detailed, loose plan that really gives your organization some confidence that this isn’t going to be just a project that kind of starts and ends within a few months. And I think just having fun with it. And maybe that’ll be my- my next question and kind of wrap this episode up with you, Garry is now just reflecting on the two years of you and your team having done the Global Health Matters podcast, what’s been your favorite part of this journey?

Garry 44:16
I always say that if you’d like to do something that you think that you would do, even on your free time. So this is really I mean, obviously part of my job, but learning through it has been the best part of it. I also think that we all learn things about ourselves. I didn’t really know certain things I can do or not do. So it’s also a very good way of self reflection. And we’ve all again, as team, were really, really enjoying the feedback and interaction and you know, the very remote places or places globally, that listen and we reached. And that was really one of the triggers to continue. And we really felt that we’re doing something that really has a lot of resonance. So that would be my quick answer to that, probably more. But that would be my answer to that.

Sujani 45:23
Thanks so much, Garry. I think this is a topic that definitely requires more than one hour of us chatting on and reflecting on. So depending on you know, the feedback we get on this episode, and if there is interest in podcasting in public health, we can definitely have you back on with more specific questions and and get into the details of things.

Garry 45:43
Will be my pleasure, no problem. Thanks for having me this time and appreciate this conversation.

Sujani 45:52
Hey, I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you want to get the links or information mentioned in today’s episode, you can head over to And we’ll have everything there for you. And before you go, I want to tell you about the public health career club. So if you’ve been looking for a place to connect and build meaningful relationships with other public health professionals, from all around the world, you should join us in the public health career club. We launched the club with the vision of becoming the number one hangout spot dedicated to building and growing your dream public health career. And in addition to being able to connect and build those meaningful relationships with other public health professionals, the club also offers other great resources for your career growth and success, like mindset coaching, job preparation, clinics, and career growth strategy sessions in the form of trainings and talks, all delivered by experts and inspiring individuals in these areas. So if you want to learn more or want to join the club, you can visit our page at And we’ll have all the information there. And you know, as a space that’s being intentionally curated to bring together like minded public health professionals who are not only there to push themselves to become the best versions of themselves, but also each other. And with that, I can’t wait to see how this is going to have a ripple effect in the world as we all work together to better the health of our populations and just have immense impact on the world. And I hope you’ll be joining us in the public health career Club.


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PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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