February 5, 2024

5 questions with Malvika Sharma

Our monthly check-in with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.

Malvika Sharma

Title: Manager, Juvenile Diabetes
: India (WJCF)
Start date: July 2022

Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to the William J Clinton Foundation (CHAI affiliate).

I am a medical doctor from a family with three generations of clinicians. However, early in my medical training, I realized I wanted to improve health at the community and systems level rather than doing clinical work in a hospital setting. Over the past seven years, I have worked for local, national, and global public health organizations. What drew me to the organization is that we operate within countries, working alongside partner governments to solve their most pressing public health problems. At the same time, we have a global network that enables cross-learning across varied country experiences.

1. When do you feel the most inspired by your work?

I am most inspired by my work when I am on the field, interacting with healthcare providers, community members, frontline health workers, and other stakeholders. Every field visit reinforces my ‘reason for being’ in this sector.

2. In your experience, what skills are the most crucial to succeeding in your job?

I guess time management, stakeholder management, and negotiation skills would be typical responses. In addition, I would also highlight work-life balance, which can sometimes get lost in the background. There is so much great (and urgent!) work to do that it can sometimes be challenging to draw and adhere to boundaries. I have found it helpful to be deliberate in shutting down work for the day and devoting time to myself and my family. This has made me feel more ‘present’ in both my work and personal life, positively impacting the overall quality and experience of my work.

3. What is your favorite quote of all time and why?

I have a very distinct memory of an Inter-State Taekwondo tournament I participated in when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was one of the youngest participants in my belt category and barely reached the top of my opponent’s chest in height. About 30 seconds into the fight, the referee made me take a time-out to attend to a bleeding lip. As the medic blotted up my bloody lip, I remember my father coming up to me and motivating me with this Urdu quote: “Girte hain sheh-sawar hi maidan-e-jung mein, woh tifl kya gire jo ghuton ke bal chalein.”

What it means is that only those who try experience failure (riders/warriors fall in battle) and do not expect anything (even failure) from those who never try (how can someone fall if they walk on their knees).

I was pretty much knocked out flat in that fight, but I always carry this memory and motivation with me.

4. What is a motto you live by?

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a motto, but I try to live by the five tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. I can’t say I have always succeeded in adhering to these tenets. Still, these have definitely been values I have aspired to embody since I was a child.

5. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I bungee jumped off the top of the Macau Tower—the second highest bungee jumping site in the world with a whopping 764 foot drop!

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