THINKMD has welcomed a new Implementation Lead to our team! Eamon Penney joins us from Somerville, MA and shares in his own words below what he hopes to achieve in his new role.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned throughout your career, and how do you plan to apply them in your new role?

As someone with a background in humanitarian public health operations, ninety percent of my work has involved communication in one form or another. Communication with governments, community leaders, diverse international teams, academics, armed groups, you name it. The main lesson that I’ve learned is to practice what I think of as intellectual empathy. What I have come to mean by intellectual empathy is to really aim to understand not the what of what someone is doing, but the why. What factors are guiding decision making to take position X or say Y? Based on what they’re saying, can I figure out how they perceive key issues? Do I think they’re correct and I need to change my perspective or develop a more nuanced understanding, or do I think they might be misunderstanding and I need to communicate my perspective?

Practicing intellectual empathy, which is not always easy, has helped me to be less reactive, to learn and adapt faster, and ultimately to be more effective. In my few short months in this role I’ve already put this to work interacting with factory owners in Cambodia, international NGO leadership, project managers in Rwanda, Zambia, and Sudan, and not to mention the different teams within THINKMD who have very different areas of expertise than my own.

What do you think are some of the most important qualities to have as a team member, and how do you plan to demonstrate them in your new role?

My public health career to date has had two main areas of focus: humanitarian operations and epidemiology. These two lenses have allowed me to effectively liaise between the data-minded number crunchers and the operational teams who are focused on the day-to-day. It is all-too-common in public health that operational teams don’t have the background to fully leverage the insights that can data yield, and data teams don’t fully appreciate operational realities and limitations. As a result these two groups end up talking past one another.

My professional background is closer to that of our implementing partners than it is of the development and data teams at THINKMD, so as the THINKMD Implementation Lead I’ll be well positioned to understand partner’s needs, communicate those internally, work with the THINKMD teams to develop solutions, and bring those back to the partner.

What do you think sets this company apart from others in the industry, and how do you see yourself contributing to its success?

I’m quite new to the digital health and startup world, so I’m probably not best positioned to share nuanced comparisons between different industry actors. But I will say in the time I’ve been with THINKMD I’ve been incredibly impressed by the very diverse backgrounds of folks in the organization, and the open and willing atmosphere they’ve created to experiment, try new things, innovate, and bring the platform to where it can have the most impact.

Have a question for Eamon? You can email him at