“It was a constant stress point in the foundation. It was Warren who put it down, but Bill’s appetite is always, “We should do this, we should do this.” The teams end up with this huge to-do list, ”said the former CEO.
Mr Buffett admitted in an interview with The Times last year that he spoke out against institutional bloating. “That’s the only piece of advice I never silence because it’s the natural tendency of any organization,” he said.
Foundation staff often have to wear multiple hats to meet requirements. For example, one employee, Anita Zaidi, serves in the highly technical role of director of vaccine development and surveillance, but also serves as president for gender equality.
In a 2015 TED talk, Mr Gates warned of the global threat posed by contagious respiratory viruses. The foundation was full of top talent working to develop new vaccines. However, there was not a single person out of around 1,600 employees who dealt with pandemics all day before the Covid-19 outbreak began.
All contract workarounds and consultants had so much bandwidth and it was decided not to have a dedicated team to work on the matter. Instead, the foundation championed the Coalition for Epidemic Preparation Innovation, which helped develop vaccines to control outbreaks.
When the pandemic broke out, the foundation used its resources and expertise. It has so far allocated $ 1.75 billion to fight the pandemic and has played a key role in shaping the global response.
Even without the divorce, the foundation was in the midst of change. Mr. Buffett, the third trustee, turns 91 this summer. Mr. Gates’ father, Bill Gates Sr., who was co-chair and directing hand of the foundation, died last September. Some observers have wondered if the couple’s three children could get involved anytime soon. The older two are already in college and medical school. Others have raised the possibility that this is the moment to loosen the grip of the family and install a board drawn by professionals outside the inner circle.