William Lee, MBA '99 (Business Administration)

Lee looks to knock out AIDS

William Lee
At the 2011 World AIDS Day, President Obama spoke of the “The Beginning of the End” of AIDS. And while he wasn’t mentioned by name, William can be considered an agent of change to that end.

Lee, a program manager with global security company Northrop Grumman, oversees the technology that pipelines medication and health products for HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment to developing countries.

His program, Supply Chain Management System, a project under the Partnership for Supply Chain Management, works to advance the information technology systems under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

“One of my key responsibilities is to create change with the use of technology,” Lee says.

To operate the Supply Chain Management System at peak potential, Lee installed software that better predicts medical supply and demand, facilitating relief to people in need and helping eliminate costly issues like emergency orders.

To reduce an already stressful workload on staff, he implemented technology that automates tasks such as quote gathering and vendor selection for incoming medical supplies. Lee also introduced “virtualization” to the organization’s computers, multiplying their processing power to conduct more tasks more efficiently. 

“I’m taking a non-profit and making it operate like it’s a commercial enterprise,” he says.

Lee attributes his philosophy of innovation to his Sac State education in change management, a field he describes as the art of determining, preparing, implementing and maximizing change to grow business.

“Every single bit of what I learned from my MBA applies here,” Lee says. “There’s the financial piece, the logistics piece, the HR piece, the thought leadership. I wouldn’t have, or be able to do, this job without my MBA.”

One elective on change management taught by former professor Thomas Cross particularly prepared him for tasks ahead. “That class gave me a lot of background on what to look for when you prepare an organization for change, how to implement the change and how to follow up on the change,” he says.

Lee hopes to advance to the position of senior vice president at Northrop Grumman, where he would eventually direct several programs at once. He’s driven by the millions of people across the globe dependent on his efforts.

“Our folks in the field travel to places in Africa and work with the ministries of health that bring back incredible stories and photos of the work we do,” he says. “We’re all very motivated to do our best.”

This article was originally published in the Spring 2012 edition of Sac State Magazine.