SEATTLE – Now that Bill Gates is stepping away from his daily duties at Microsoft Corp., he's going to dive deeper into the work of his $38 billion charitable foundation, established a decade ago.
As Patty Stonesifer, outgoing CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sees it, Gates won't focus on managing the organization, hiring hundreds of new employees or overseeing the construction of a new headquarters.
"He's clear that he loves the idea that he doesn't have to be the operating leadership," Stonesifer said.
Instead "he wants to do strategy and advocacy," Stonesifer said, which means he will focus on better understanding the problems the foundation is trying to address.
That includes sitting down with government, business and nonprofit leaders to advocate for them to spend more money on world health, hunger and poverty.
His wife, Melinda Gates, who is also increasing her time at the foundation, will take a similar approach to her work, although she is involved in planning the new building.
In an interview with The Associated Press after he announced his transition, Bill Gates — who dropped out of college to launch Microsoft — talked about this step as an opportunity to go back to school.
"There's a lot I don't know and I'm looking forward to learning all about it," he said.
His education will be guided by leaders of each foundation program, who will have more time now to relay to him what the organization has been learning through its research from the American classroom to the African farm.
Stonesifer expects both Bill and Melinda Gates to work somewhere between half time and full time at the foundation; Bill Gates will remain Microsoft's chairman, and Melinda will focus on their three young children.
"Half time of either one of them feels like full time of anybody else," Stonesifer added. "This will be their main gig."
Of course, Gates already spends a good deal of time exploring foundation matters, but mostly from home, Stonesifer said.
"I tease [him] all the time about the fact that I know when Melinda goes off for services on Sunday, because my inbox starts to fill up with Bill working on foundation things," she said.