Thomas Hendrix, a current student in the MSL government procurement law program, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, procuring masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies on behalf of the city of New York.
Mr. Hendrix, a retired Army Green Beret, is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Decisive Point, a venture advisory firm focused on defense and national security. In early March, Decisive Point was contacted by the city government of New York for creative problem-solving assistance in helping to work through the PPE shortage.
Once they saw the scale of the problem, Mr. Hendrix and his team began to volunteer their services around the clock, spending 18 hours a day engaging in rapid procurement for the city and its various hospitals. To date, they have secured 1,000 ventilators for both New York City and New Jersey, identified millions of masks stashed away in warehouses, and consolidated a fractured additive manufacturing community to produce a single face shield design.
“Early in the crisis, there was an overarching narrative that our collective trajectory had already been forged and that sheltering in place or social distancing was the best we could do in response,” said Mr. Hendrix. “As a team, we decided that we could do more and looked for opportunities to provide support.”
Mr. Hendrix has received national media attention for his efforts but has also suffered some disappointment along the way. He told The Wall Street Journal how he rushed from his home north of Manhattan recently to investigate an unmarked warehouse full of tens of thousands of masks for cash on delivery for New York hospitals. He sent a sample for approval by health officials, only to learn that the masks were rejected as off brand and unsafe.
For his Analytical Writing course in the MSL program, Mr. Hendrix wrote about his experiences in a narrative essay, which was later published in Fortune. In the article, co-written by Jay Long, Director of Innovation at Decisive Point, Mr. Hendrix and Mr. Long described how their team is working closely with city officials in New York, aiming to identify and resolve points of friction rather than focus on material solutions to the PPE crisis.
In addition, Mr. Hendrix participated in a recent webinar, “Fighting Fraud and COVID-19 Sourcing,” hosted by the GW Law Government Procurement Law Program. He and the other speakers discussed fraud in the supply chain for critical COVID-19 supplies and how governments around the world are fighting back against price gouging and defective supplies. He credits Assistant Dean Jessica Tillipman’s course on Anti-Corruption and Compliance for providing a solid foundation for the discussions he has joined on this topic.
Likewise, he was a guest on “Bizcast,” the podcast of his alma mater Columbia Business School. Beginning with the episode featuring Mr. Hendrix, the podcast is covering the business impacts of COVID-19 from multiple perspectives.
Mr. Hendrix plans to continue his work in the battle against COVID-19 and to support New York City for as long as he and his team can be useful. They hope to share the lessons they have learned broadly. “For all the sadness and uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought, we've seen people band together to do the right thing for each other, for strangers,” said Mr. Hendrix. “I highly value service and am happy to have played a supporting role.”