The Smart Technology That Goes
Wang has managed projects in Asia and Africa in the areas of health, sanitation, agriculture, and education.
Co-Founder of IDinsight
Esther Wang is the External Partnerships Lead and Co-Founder of IDinsight, based in Washington, D.C.Esther currently leads IDinsight’s external capital strategy. As IDinsight continues to grow, two levers of catalytic importance in achieving our vision are developing innovative sources of funding and enabling senior leaders to reach their maximum potential.Esther was IDinsight Chief Operating Officer from 2014-2019 and established IDinsight’s Global Operations Team. She oversaw the growth of the global team from 30 to 150 staff around the world. Esther led development of IDinsight’s people operations, recruitment, systems, safety & security, legal, HR and policies, new country expansion, training and development, organizational summits, and other global initiatives. Esther lived in Lusaka, Zambia for 8 years, from early days of the first Africa office.Prior to IDinsight, Esther was a management consultant with Bain & Company, a co-founder of a social enterprise in the Tibetan Plateau, and co-led several not-for-profit organizations.Esther holds a joint bachelor’s of science and bachelor’s of arts from the University of Pennsylvania’s Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. She also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School. Esther was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship and an Echoing Green Fellow. Esther has lived and worked in China, Swaziland, Uganda, India, Ghana, Cambodia, and Zambia and speaks Mandarin and English.
IDinsight is an international development organization that uses analytical and quantitative tools that helps their clients fashion new policies and carry them out to the testing and implementation phases. Wang has overseen projects related to health, sanitation, agriculture, and education all across Asia and Africa. She makes use of tools like experimental evaluation methodologies, performance management systems, policy design consultation, and scale-up support to help her clients.
When asked about the inspiration behind IDinsight, Wang commented that her main motivation behind the venture was ‘to improve lives by making powerful measurement tools accessible to those making decisions on the ground. Her goal as the Chief Operating Officer has been to establish IDinsight as a well-oiled machine that can support and run organizations with a supportive and high-performance culture. IDinsight also has a Global Operations team that overhauls people processes like recruitment, hiring, training, and developing teams along with implemented goal tracking systems that execute a global strategy.
At the advent of IDinsight, most activities to do with measurement were conducted for global research or accountability. There was very little process designed to guide real-time decisions and actions that help the people on the frontline. Wang founded IDinsight to fill this gap and to directly help the frontline workers.
IDinsight has a philanthropy organization called GiveWell to put the preferences of potential beneficiaries to use. It has also made several investments into developing real-time tools that make it easier to use good data.
Wang has traveled extensively and has worked in several countries like China, Swaziland, Uganda, and Ghana. She considers herself to be of good fortune to have found the opportunities that have allowed her to travel as a student and embark on many adventures of personal and professional natures. According to her, China was a formative chapter for her as she speaks Mandarin but has never been to Asia until she entered university. She met her husband in Switzerland. Ghana and Uganda were her first adventures into field research. Her trips to Zambia have been helpful in building her team. Every place she has visited or lived in has allowed her view life from a different perspective and came with its own set of challenges that she courageously overcame.
During her interview, Wang mentioned a ‘Shokay’ chapter in her life. When asked about it, she explained that it all started when her best friend from college and her joined together to explore ways to bring social enterprise to remote and poor parts of China. She wanted to learn about the nascent field of ‘social enterprising’ and deduced that her consultation skills could be useful. She then put the Shokay plan to action along with her best friend. Shokay brings socially responsible textiles, like the yak, down while creating a livelihood for everyone involved. The plan was a hit in the early days and yak was collected from nomadic herders. There was also a yak cheese business on the side.
Along with being a successful business woman and SOO, Wang loves spending time with her family leading a simple life in Zambia. She enjoys spending her free time outdoors, engaging herself in activities like swimming and running. Wang reads extensively and some of her favourite titles include Just Mercury by Bryan Stevenson, Every Day is for the thief by Teju Cole, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her current reads are geared towards parenting.
As a full time working mom, Wang draws inspiration from her own mother whas has sacrificed a great deal for her. She remarked that she has great admiration for Abigail (from the Bible) – a courageous, smar witted quick thinker and a bold woman from a time when it was not socially accepted and very risky to be so.
Esther Hsu Wang paints the perfect portrait of a business woman, a leader, and a mother. She is an inspiration to all around her as she continues to achieve great things with IDinsight.
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