“I want to create positive impact in the public health sector not only in South Africa, but also on the Continent as well” Rufaro Samanga on Career Quick Five

Rufaro Samanga is an epidemiologist whose career has spanned public health programs, management consulting and journalism. Her professional endeavours are driven by a committed personal mission to positively transform public healthsystems in Africa through equitable access, advocacy and the power of impactful storytelling. Rufaro is also a Mandela-Rhodes Scholar and Allan Gray Fellow.

In this Career Quick Five feature, she shares few facts about her career journe an her day-to-day routine, and how she maintains a work-life balance.

1. How do you manage time efficiently to balance your career with personal responsibilities?

In essence, the question around worklife balance is twofold: one, it’s about the individual, but it’s also about the environment in which the individual actually exists. But I’ll talk about the first.

I think the three key things for me with regards to that is, one: having an overview of the work that needs to be done and by when; two: communicating with the relevant parties or stakeholders to make sure that we are aligned on what needs to be done, and by when. And then three, is around timeboxing activities. Whether it’s for a day or a week or a month, and understanding how much time it’s actually going to take to do activity one, say an hour, for example, or activity twelve that might take a little bit longer.

2. What animal represents your mood during that first meeting?

In terms of an animal that represents me during that first meeting, I’d have to say, probably a lion or a lioness. I think the image of that animal really conjures up confidence as well as instils a sense of surety in myself.

3. How do you handle challenging situations or conflicts at the workplace?

In terms of handling a challenging situation orconflict at work, I think again, my approach is usually centered around three things. The first is trusting myself to navigate the challenge or the conflict successfully. Two, communicating and really understanding why the challenge or the conflict has arisen, and then three, pulling in or leveraging resources or individuals that will actually allow me to resolve the challenge or the conflict successfully beyond my individual capacity.

4. Drop a morning mantra that boosts your confidence and sets the tone.

I think in terms of my morning mantra, it’s usually just getting up and saying, I am incredibly grateful for this life that I am living and I am competent enough to do the work that needs to be done.

5. What’s the most rewarding aspect of your career that keeps you passionate and motivated?

I would say that really just boils down to my personal motivation and mission to be an agent of change, but also most importantly, knowing that I want to have positive impact in the public health sector not only in South Africa, but also on the Continent as well.

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