© BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION/FREDERIC COURBET
© BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION/PE TER DICAMPO
;e most important thing is to commit your
resources, whether it’s money or time … to a cause
that you’re passionate about.—Jeff Raikes
poor farmers. Any time we can figure out
how to tap into private-sector companies for
the benefit of poor people, that’s the best use
of our resources.
For another example, [we need to] help
the United States understand how important
teacher excellence is and how to foster
teacher excellence through stronger professional development and supporting teachers
in doing that great work. [If we can do that]
we think that the U.S. education sector,
which spends $600 billion a year on education, can ... improve U.S. education. That
would be an example of us being a catalyst in
We might spend $600 million a year on
U.S. education, but you can see we’re a small
percentage of U.S. education spending. So we
have to think where we can make a contribution, and that’s where we can catalyze changes
that will make a difference.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29
30 ;e Costco Connection APRIL 2013
CC: When you do fieldwork and come
face to face with the poverty and rampant
health problems, do you get overwhelmed?
JR: It certainly can feel overwhelming,
but I felt that way in business sometimes also.
I worked for Microsoft for 27 years. I co-led
the creation of Microsoft Office, and there
were days when it seemed pretty daunting. I’ve
learned that what you have to do is have a clear
goal, a strategy to get there, and you’ve got to
be disciplined in execution and your plan of
action to deliver on the goal. That’s the way I
approach the work here.
CC: What is your most significant contribution as a leader to the foundation?
JR: We have great people. I love working
with our teams on what they’re trying to do.
Monday and Tuesday last week, I was very
focused in on supporting our team to help
eradicate polio in Nigeria. If I can create an
environment here that allows the talent that
we have to do their very best work, I know
they will do big things.
I call that the capacity for impact. The
mission of the foundation is the impact we
aspire to—to help enable all people to have an
opportunity to live healthy and productive
lives. How we get to that mission is the capacity for our impact. If I can draw upon my
business experience and my leadership experience to create a stronger and better environment to increase our capacity for impact, then
I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.
CC: What best prepared you for your role
as CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?
JR: The values I learned growing up on a
farm: having a good work ethic, integrity, hon-
esty and the kind of community connection
you get when you grow up in a small town.
From my business career, I learned the impor-
tance and discipline of business strategy and
execution, and the importance of leading peo-
ple and helping people be the best that they
can be in order to help accomplish a big goal.
CC: You and your wife, Tricia, also established the Raikes Foundation in 2002. What
does your foundation work toward?
JR: At the Raikes Foundation, we’re very
passionate about the issues of youth in our
country, especially disadvantaged youth. We
try to find key things we can do that would
help those youth have a great opportunity.
There are a couple of key initiatives that
we focus on. One is what we call the middle
shift, when kids in middle school are transitioning through early adolescence, and it’s a
very challenging time in the lives of kids. It’s a
huge period of brain development, and in
terms of the behaviors there’s a tendency for
perhaps more risky behavior.
What the Raikes Foundation is doing in
the middle shift is learning how to instill what
we call student agency, the academic mind-sets and learning strategies that help kids during this transition to be more successful in the
classroom and, we believe, also then more
successful in life.
We are also interested in the issues of youth
homelessness in the Seattle area. And, my wife,