Who Mentored Bill & Melinda Gates On Global Health?

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By James Mills, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

The billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has often spoken about his mentor and good friend Warren Buffett. However, in a recent blog post, he paid tribute to another highly-influential mentor who you may never have heard of; Dr Bill Foege. During the process of setting up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Gates was keen to learn as much as he could about the issue of global health which led him to one man who stands at a giant 6 ft 7 inches!

"As l learned more about global health, I discovered that one name appears again and again in accounts about the fights against smallpox and polio to campaigns to wipe out Guinea Worm and improve health care in the developing world. It is Bill’s. While never eager to take the limelight, Bill left his mark on one effort after the next to improve the health of the world’s poorest people."

Bill Gates is one of the world's richest people and once again proves that successful people actively seek out the most-qualified mentors they can find. He explained the role that Dr Foege has played in the creation of the foundation:

"In 1999, Melinda and I were thrilled when Bill joined the foundation as a senior advisor to help us develop a global health strategy. At the time, I was still working full time at Microsoft and I knew very little about global health, but I was eager to learn.

Bill served as our mentor, answering our questions and giving us a crash course in the history of global health. There are few teachers as talented as Bill. As comfortable quoting Voltaire and Democritus as the latest Lancet article or World Health Organization report, Bill is always clear in his thinking about how much the world has accomplished in improving health, as well as how much more we can do to alleviate human suffering."

Mr and Mrs Gates were humble enough to recognise they needed to learn from the pioneers in the area they were going into. At the same time, they were equally impressed by Dr Foege's humility and passion for his field in addition to simply being knowledgeable.

Here's the video of Bill Gates speaking about the impact that Dr Foerge has had on Melinda and himself over the years of building their foundation:

Want to hear more about legends who see the importance of mentorship? Here's 9 inspiring quotes on that very subject!

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