Our monthly check-in with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.
Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to CHAI.
Growing up in the Niger Delta Region in Southern Nigeria, access to clean water, healthcare, and other social amenities were a distant utopia. Our communities were always worst hit by outbreaks, from cholera to measles, and everything in between. Most of the diseases that afflicted us were treatable, but access to proper healthcare was a challenge. So, I helplessly watched many loved ones pass away with little to no outside intervention. These pictures kept playing in my head throughout my high school and university education. It spurred my aspiration to focus my career toward improving healthcare and helping save the lives of vulnerable and underserved communities. When I came across CHAI with its core mission to save lives and reduce disease burden, I knew it was where I was meant to be.
1. What does a typical day at CHAI look like for you?
When I get to work in the morning, I set up my to do list, prioritize activities in order of importance, and check my meeting calendar. I love focusing on critical tasks in the mornings and brainstorming/problem-solving with my team in the afternoons. Every time I am scheduled for a meeting with the Ministry of Health, I love taking out time to fully prepare for these meetings to ensure that I am going to add value.
2. What’s been one of your proudest moments working at CHAI?
There have been lots of proud moments for me. One that is personally significant to me is seeing the government adopt a policy document on an optimized two-way referral system between primary and secondary healthcare facilities in Kano State. As a step toward the adoption of the policy, we worked on a memorandum of understanding between Kano State Government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Aliko Dangote Foundation to help strengthen communication between primary and secondary health facilities.
While working on the policy document, I also took initiative to develop a one-on-one capacity building plan for government staff to build their report writing, Excel, PowerPoint and communication skills. This seemingly insignificant support strengthened the capacity of some of the government staff in Kano and built relationships that have outlived me even after completion of the project. So, I feel proud of myself when a government staff sees me and says, “Thank you CHAI, you helped build my capacity.”
3. When do you feel the most inspired by your work?
I always feel inspired when I see health systems working effectively and efficiently based on the technical support our team provided. Seeing a mother and child smiling after immunization also inspires me a lot. As an associate, I go on field visits to monitor and supervise immunization sessions in health facilities and on one of those days, I watched a mother walk in with her child for vaccination. When it was her turn, the child cried for a bit while being vaccinated on both thighs but a few minutes after, I saw the baby smiling as they walked out of the health facility. This picture will remain evergreen in my heart.
4. Who is someone you admire, and why?
Within CHAI, it is Omileye Toyobo. He is one of the most efficient humans I have ever met and worked with—Leye embodies the values of CHAI. There are so many times I have seen him do this, but one that has stuck me with me was when I newly joined the Global Markets Team. Leye wasn’t just a manager, he set me up to succeed; our weekly one-on-one meetings created a safe space for me to talk about my work, get clarity on tasks and an understanding of how every activity tied to a goal. He is a solutionist and always helped me see the way out in every challenge.
5. What is your favorite thing about your career?
My favorite thing about my career is that I get to wake up each day and tell myself, “This is a good day to save lives,” and also meet some incredibly talented colleagues with the same mission.