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#STEMStories: Nsovo, Pharmacist, South Africa

Name: Nsovo Mayimele
Role/Occupation: Pharmacist
Country: South Africa

Nsovo Mayimele is the manager for the South African Pharmacy Council. As a professional pharmacist, she had previously worked in the research space, but working for the council has now placed her in a more corporate environment. A new environment, which she rather enjoys, “working for a national council is so exciting for me because I contribute to a cause that is bigger than me. Knowing that the effort I put into my work will have impact in the next coming years has to be the absolute motivation.”

Mayimele’s school years were hallmarked by being in the science laboratory and after high school she immediately went into the Health Sciences to study pharmacy. This is where she discovered her true love, “I loved pharmaceutics and found dosage form design to be very interesting,” she explains.

She has to admit that she has been fortunate enough not to face too many difficulties as a woman in STEM and maintains an optimistic outlook for the future, “professional resistance in the workplace is still in existence, but I am optimistic that this will change. If it doesn’t, I’m still determined to make it work.”

Her advice to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field, “find your passion, once you do, pursue it with all you have… Voices will be there to tell you to slow down because you are running too fast, but set your goals and achieve them.”

Mayimele firmly believes that Africa is a land of opportunity and that STEM is a tool for progress , “STEM is on the rise in Africa. Africa has many problems, and the fun part about STEM is that we are about solutions. STEM is exactly what Africa needs to grow and progress.”

Mayimele is grateful to have qualified for funding from the National Research Foundation and Department of Science and Technology due to the quality of her research, “funding is a major contributor to kick-start a career in science and research,” she elaborates. One of the key milestones in her career was presenting her MSc research in Massachusetts, USA and then winning award for innovation for her research.

As a new mom currently on maternity leave, she is trying to navigate through this new situation of finding work-life balance whilst taking care of a child, “I have an unexplainable sense of guilt when I have to work on my laptop and not spend a moment with my child,” she explains.

Her inspiration is the late Dora Akunyili of Nigeria, a pharmacist who used her knowledge for the benefit of the country and was recognised for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights, “I would like to use my education and knowledge to benefit humanity,” she elaborates.

Read more about our Geeky Girl and enterprising pharmacist, Nsovo Mayimele in an insightful interview below.

1. Describe what your work entails.

I am working as a manager for the South African Pharmacy Council. While I am a pharmacy professional who enjoys the research space, working for the council placed me in a corporate environment.

2. Describe your STEM journey.

From high school, I immediately went into pharmacy school. My school years were hallmarked by being in the lab. I loved pharmaceutics and found dosage form design to be very interesting.

3. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

Working for a national council is so exciting for me because I contribute to a cause that is bigger than me. Knowing that the effort I put into my work will have impact in the next coming years has to be the absolute motivation. Hence, I do my work to the best of my abilities.

4. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space?

Being in a country such as mine, I have to admit that it has not been too difficult. Professional resistance in the workplace is still in existence, but I am optimistic that this will change. If it doesn’t, I’m still determined to make it work.

5. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field?

Find your passion, once you do, pursue it with all you have. Being a woman, there are many more distractions on our journey than for men. Voices will be there to tell you to slow down because you are running too fast, but set your goals and achieve them.

6. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”?

STEM is on the rise in Africa. Africa has many problems, and the fun part about STEM is that we are about solutions. STEM is exactly what Africa needs to grow and progress. Yes definitely Africa is a land of opportunities.

7. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career?

Yes. One of the biggest milestones for me was getting to present my masters research in Massachusetts, USA and actually winning award for innovation. Another big one was having funding from our (South Africa) National Research Foundation and Department of Science and Technology. Funding is a major contributor to kick-start a career in science and research.

8. How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I’m a new mom. I am still on maternity leave, but I am currently battling to find that balance. I have an unexplainable sense of guilt when I have to work on my laptop and not spend a moment with my child. I don’t know how I will be able to make it when I go back to work.

9. Who is your role model? Who inspires you?

I am inspired by the late Dora Akunyili of Nigeria. She was a pharmacist who used her knowledge for the benefit of the country. She was recognised for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights. I would like to use my education and knowledge to benefit humanity.

10. Where can more information or insight into your work be found?

On google. There are a few links about by work in pharmacy and social sciences. I’m also on linkedIn

Twitter Handle: @NsovoMayimelex

Nsovo Mayimele interviewed by Dhruti Dheda

Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at dhruti@geekyreality.com or find her on twitter @dhrutidd