Today on Pearls And Heels we feature Faith Muigai. Faith Muigai’s professional background stems from over 15 years of local and international health experience in both the public and private sectors. She serves as Chief Medical Officer for Jacaranda Health, a scaling organization, whose mission is to provide high-quality, affordable Maternal and Child Health services in Kenya. Her previous roles have included frontline health service delivery, clinical research, program development and executive management in leading health institutions (Johns Hopkins Hospital and University Specialty Hospital, an affiliate of the University of Maryland Medical Systems and LifeBridge Health).
Faith has designed and implemented local and regional healthcare projects and participated in local and national health collaboratives that positively impact healthcare services. She is an elected Board Director for the Kenya Healthcare Federation, nominated Board Member for Nairobi County’s Pumwani Hospital and serves on the Kenya Nursing Council’s Discipline, Standards and Ethics committee.
- Describe your typical day.
Is there ever a typical day? The one thing that is consistent is that my son and daughter walk into my room to say they are heading off for school. I wish them well -This is the cue to get up, check emails that have come in –in the last 6 hours (I am a light sleeper), shower and change a glass of juice or cold water and then I am off. It may be a staff meeting, it may be a stakeholder meeting, it may be a call from the hospital notifying me of an incident and I head to the hospital or on a typically rare occasion-I head to the office, sit on my desk and catch up.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew it was health and in Africa, that means a Doctor. I did go into health and found myself in a profession that I revere, and respect and I am truly proud of nursing. In my role I have grown from bedside nursing to research, program management, administration- and a huge accomplishment building and running a world-class hospital –Jacaranda Health-providing high quality, affordable and respectful maternal and child health services at the community level in peri-urban Nairobi ( “Mashinani is the coined term”)
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have grown, and I have challenged myself, it was not easy but it was right! And so the lessons learned have been a foundation for who I am today. I worked my way up the ladder-a nursing assistant, a patient care assistant, a receptionist, Associate Degree then Bachelor and then Masters prepared. As a nurse in leadership – I currently serve as Chief Medical Officer for Jacaranda Health, designing and driving strategy, leading an exceptional team and transforming the stories in the communities we serve. I would not have it any other way.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Communication-the ability to effectively deliver and receive information determines one’s ability to influence, move things forward, and chorale a team towards the desired direction. Communication takes all forms, in terms of verbal exchange, body language and demeanour, appearance-these impact how messaging is received and digested.
Relationship/Team Building-the African saying “if you want to go fast –go alone,
If you want to go far-go together. In my work, I have matured in my role and understand the value of people-ensuring people understand their roles, they are respected and motivated, willing to collaborate or partner and share synergy so as to build, strengthen and achieve set goals. There is power when people work together!
Decision Making – I feel that taking ownership and making decisions that are favourable-sometimes not and also provides a platform to learn. One has to have the ability to take a stand and then deal with the consequences.
Servant Leadership – Leadership is service and humility-a plaque on my desk states “when you get there, do not forget where you came from” My role is to uplift, Enable and empower others to be the best that they can be.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is Africa’s New York-I love it! Within the healthcare landscape, there are opportunities to strengthen and innovate the system. Nairobi has the appetite and has been coined a hub for innovation-which ties to disruptive, human-centred and culturally designed solutions.
Health is not sexy and therefore it has not been prioritized in a manner that I would like. There is the notion of haves and have not. The haves have access to high-quality health services-“hotel like”. The have-nots are exposed to a broken health system where at times their care is compromised or they are disrespected due to under-resourced, understaffed environments. There is a failure to view health as a cornerstone to economic development and therefore this sector is lagging there is a serious need to re-calibrate and focus on issues that matter-our people-our well-being. There is a need to create access to high-quality, affordable, respectful health services that cater to all regardless of socio-economic status.
- What motivates you?
My passion to address issues that build on equity-being a contributor to solving issues around poverty, inequality and suffering. My community and kinsmen motivate me to be a catalyst for positive change.
- How do you define success?
Success is when I feel that my work, my intentions, and my contribution have a positive effect, and positive outcome and aides in uplifting others. My success is through others succeeding and excelling.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
The two individuals who were responsible for bringing me into this world-My 84-year-old Dad and 78-year-old Mom-the love, the values, the wisdom, the unwavering support, their consistent walk to be of service to those around them, their humility to see the world as it is, and their audacity to be forces of change.
- What is your favourite aspect of your job?
I get to see people’s lives transformed-the birth of a baby is a sacred experience-Every day I am privileged to see new life and the strengthened family bonds-I am humbled to share these sacred moments that reinforce how complex the world is and yet how simple the world can be.
- What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Passion, Resilience, Thirst for Knowledge and the ability to continuously learn.
- What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
It is plain and simple – Love what you do and do it well.
Seek Mentorship and grow your networks and stakeholder relationships-the more people you know in your space –the more you leverage on the knowledge, abilities and networks.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
We have built two hospitals – that in 5 years of operation, through independent validation ranked the first Safecare (Benchmark for quality) Level 5
(Highest score) in East Africa and 3rd in Africa! It means we have accomplished providing world-class care at the community level. It means that every woman can receive affordable, high-quality, respectful care.
I have led a team in proving that on the grass root level-healthcare services do not have to be compromised and mediocre. We have contributed to positively changing stories in the communities we serve-and to me that is life-changing and affirming.
- What makes you happy?
Service and seeing others thrive.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love to dance, I love to cook, I love to travel, I love to watch movies, I like to keep in shape by going to the gym.
- Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Succeeding in my roles as a wife and a mother and influencing the direction of health in Africa so that there is universal health coverage that is of high quality for all.
If you would like to interact with Faith you can find her on Twitter at @FaithMuigaiRN. You can also find her on LinkedIn.