Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe, Institute of Development Management (IDM) Botswana Country Director was recently awarded Africa’s most influential woman in Business and Government under the Education and Training Sector. Dr Kgokgwe is the Country Winner in the SADC North.
Awarding entity: CEO Global – This is a South African-based company that recognises the positive impact that African women have had on their communities and society at large. This award recognises that the leadership role of women and their contribution to society and the economies of their countries have been undermined, undervalued, unnoticed and unreported. CEO Global sets out to identify women who are making a significant contribution in their communities and use this award to celebrate the role of these women in society.
Q: What does this award mean to you?
A: In life, when you are doing something positive for humanity, even when you think you are in the darkest corner where nobody sees, somebody somewhere notices your good efforts. I had the privilege of working with outstanding teams both at Institute of Health Sciences, Ministry of Health, and IDM, where we collectively achieved great things through hard work, dedication and commitment. In overall this award says hard work and selflessness pay.
Q: Why do you think you deserve this award?
A: I never thought I deserved an award. However taking a closer look at myself now, I am convinced that I have touched the lives of many people in my professional career and in some way contributed to the health and well-being of this nation and its economy. When I completed my graduate studies in the USA, I had a lot of tempting job offers that I turned away because I felt my country needed me the most. Indeed I spent the most part of my work life teaching in and heading the Family Nurse Practitioner programme at the Institute of Health Sciences and that was the most rewarding part of my career. Instead of working as a Nurse Practitioner in the US and rewarded handsomely, I chose to come home to teach our young nurses to take care of our people and in that way I have touched many more lives than I could have ever imagined. The positive impact this cadre of nurses have in health systems worldwide is uncontested and for Botswana these nurses have been the pillar of our primary health care system. I had yet another opportunity to stay abroad upon completion of my PhD, and still my country and my people came first. I am here making a contribution not only to the health systems but also to the other sectors of the economy through my current position in IDM, which is a multidisciplinary institution offering diverse programmes that cut across the different sectors.
Q: How do you plan to use this award to inspire others?
A: In my career I teach, guide, support and mentor others. I focus not only on transferring technical skills but also on displaying positive and admirable attitudes that can inspire. To the people around me, the award is saying it is doable. Anybody can achieve as long as their hearts are in the right place. Selflessness and a desire to serve are the critical ingredients to a fulfilling career.
Q: How do you think this award will advance the work you are doing?
A: I am somebody who believes in the power of networks. Networks have the power to open up opportunities and even avail resources that one might never have imagined. This award opens up opportunities to a whole new world of collaborations and networks that I am ready to take advantage of to advance my work
Q: As a role model what are you doing to impart the skills and knowledge that you have to others?
A: I have a circle of peers and young people that I support by sharing skills, ideas and thoughts. I mentor some in their graduate studies, research projects and others in managing their careers.
PROFILE: Dr Kgokgwe is an educator, practitioner, trainer and leader in the research arena who is passionate about quality health issues, having worked in the health sector for over two decades. During her tenure in the Public Service, she coordinated the Healthcare Leadership Management Development Programme which focused on improving the quality of leadership to ensure efficient service delivery throughout the health sector. This was positively received as it empowered decision-makers to appreciate the impact their decisions had on the overall outcomes of health services. A registered nurse, midwife and nurse practitioner, Dr Kgokgwe has served as Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Health Services. At one point, she led Botswana Family Nurse Practitioners programme where she was instrumental in enhancing the programme to position Botswana as Centre of Excellence on Primary Health with countries across African continent coming to benchmark best practice.