She has a superb career in the field of medicine and has built a fantastic name for herself. She oversees an initiative that promises to solve one of humanities biggest challenges—HIV/Aids. Imagine for a second a world without HIV or Ebola? Now imagine a woman who works tirelessly day and night to achieve this! This is exactly what my second interviewee for the Top 40 under 40 women series does for a living..
Introducing the phenomenal woman, Dr Borna Nyaoke-Anoke!
Borna received the honourable title of Top 40 woman for a host of reasons… her passion in the pursuit of vaccines for tropical diseases such as Ebola ranks TOP among these reasons. She is the Clinical Trials Manager at Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) Institute of Clinical Research at the University of Nairobi. She is a Harvard Medical School scholar and Master’s degree graduate in Public Health from the University of Liverpool. At 30, her achievements are more than impressive to say the least. She lives and breathes medicine and gets a kick out of successful development of vaccines!
I hope you draw a ton of inspiration from her story.
C: What do you consider as your greatest achievement to date?
B: Founding together with two other doctors Health and Wellness Solutions Limited. It is a personal and corporate health solutions company that focuses on preventative care. We conduct home based care, health talks, medical camps and provide mentorship programmes to students.
C: What has your career path been like as you have navigated through your chosen field leading up to your current role/position?
B: After graduating from Medical School I did my internship at Kenyatta National Hospital then went on to work as a Medical Officer at the Nairobi Hospital. I felt a need to expand my career beyond the clinical work I was doing and decided to venture into clinical research specifically clinical trials. Treating patients was great but I felt I could impact more lives by venturing into clinical research. I proceeded to do the Global Clinical Scholars Research Training (GCSRT) Program with Harvard Medical School that provided me with invaluable knowledge and skills in this particular line of work.
I currently work as a Clinical Trials Manager at KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research, University of Nairobi where I am mostly involved in clinical vaccine development. We have worked on HIV vaccine clinical trials and I am now managing an Ebola Phase II vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Janssen Vaccines and Prevention B.V. This was after successfully completing the Phase I Ebola clinical trial.
C: What advice would you offer to young people on figuring out the balance between work, family life and social life?
B: Work-life balance is a misnomer that I believe is used to make individuals especially professional women feel more inadequate than what they are already experiencing. Most corporate 9-5 jobs do not end when you clock out and if you include meetings and travelling then this is a big chunk of your life. This becomes more difficult when you have to add your role as a spouse and a parent; for women this is a bit more negatively skewed. (I rarely hear men at conferences being asked who they left their kids with! Haha! ).
There is also your role as a daughter, sister and friend. Thus my belief is, do not strive for an unattainable goal, instead look for work that makes you happy and fulfills you, look for a spouse that you truly love and is supportive of your career and goals and is willing to walk through ‘life’ with you. Give all your other roles in this life your best but always remember that your best may never be enough to everyone, and that is okay!
C: What is your greatest piece of advice to the young upwardly mobile individual?
B: Work hard, but more importantly work smart! Use your 20-30s to burn the midnight oil and put in the hours you need to. Amass as much knowledge and skill that you can acquire during your youth and let it work for you when you are older in your career! Another important thing to remember is that despite the obstacles you may face, believing in what you want is the surest way to achieving it!
C: What is the greatest lesson/ nugget that you have picked up in life?
B: The world is your oyster...you just need to figure out how to deal with the sand!
‘’One can be beautiful, strong, confident, a great wife and mother while still being a kick-ass professional all in a day. We need to remind girls that all they need is within them and hard work doesn’t kill’ Dr Borna Nyaoke- Anoke.
Gentlemen, this statement applies as much to men as it does to women!
‘Always take on new challenges- even if you are not sure you are completely ready’ Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
See you same time next week Tuesday.. I will be introducing you to a woman who suffered a devastating diagnosis but courageously rose above it and went on to receive the Women Inspiring Change in Africa Award, the Timeless Woman of Wonder (Health Category) Award and the Red Chilly Spiced Social Change Maker award. See you then!