Today on Pearls and Heels we feature Bonita Aluoch. She says “my name is Bonnita on Safari but I also have an alter ego called Bonita Aluoch. I have tried to get the two to live in harmony but I guess I am fighting a losing battle. Bonnita on Safari is a traveller, a travel writer and a photographer. On the other hand, Bonita Aluoch is a Biochemist who works in a quiet laboratory in the city.”
- Describe your typical day.
For office days, it is more of a routine kind of story, wake up at 5:00 am, prepare for work, rush to beat Nairobi traffic, and get to my 8-5. My work generally revolves around lab work, reports, research and more lab work. Before I know it is always 8:00 pm. I am always the last to leave the office. I am most productive in the evening and at night.
On those days when I am not at work, I don’t really have a typical day. I am very spontaneous. When I am not travelling, which is very rare, I wake up, go for my morning run, fix brunch, read a book or write then go for groceries or catch up with friends.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer. I was fascinated by the fact that I shared my name with Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch and that I could adequately defend my science congress projects in high school also John Grisham’s novels made up most of my library then. I ended up pursuing Biochemistry because Science was easier for me in school than humanities. It is unbelievable how I used to fail in subjects that would otherwise be useful in shaping my career in Law. I remember one time in high school the history teacher repeated a previous term’s history paper that we had thoroughly revised, I scored lower than before and truly I led from behind that term in her class.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would volunteer and intern from the word go in my field of interest to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. Being a jack of all trade makes you a master of none and in some way, it hurts your career in the future if ever you decide to pursue it.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
As a traveller/blogger I would say discipline, working smart and networking skills. You also need excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Being a solo traveller can be a bit of a challenge if you don’t possess these qualities.
As a Biochemist, it will be a bit premature to speak of success in that field because I am still learning the ropes. However, as seen from the people I totally revere and look up to in my field, I see lots of passion, commitment, thinking without reference to the box, and willingness to go the extra mile.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Working in Nairobi can be stressful in terms of unnecessary traffic, the high cost of living, and the strain on the existing facilities and infrastructure. In terms of exposure, it scores highly considering the fact that it is the business hub for East and Central Africa. It can get better if the government worked on its security, making it cleaner and do a bit of decongestion in the city centre.
- What motivates you?
The need to be a better woman than I was yesterday.
- How do you define success?
Going past your best mark.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My late Mother. If I could be half the woman she was in my lifetime, then I can say I made it in life. She was phenomenal.
- What is your favourite aspect of your job?
As a biochemist, figuring out how things work, understanding life from the molecular level, and how small changes like ionic imbalance caused by drinking water with high levels of inorganic compounds can be dangerous.
As a travel writer/photographer, a new destination, new people, new experiences and getting off the beaten path makes me whole again.
- What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
I’d say self-knowledge, determination, humility, and integrity. I also believe in patience and following the principle of process… You have to learn to crawl, then, stand, walk, run, sprint and finally fly. If you skip even one of the steps, you will have to go back and repeat at some point.
- What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
They need to be patient, diligent and passionate. Competition with others should not be anywhere in the question. You are your best opponent.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
The fact that I keep learning something new every day inches me closer to being a problem solver with emerging issues in science.
- What makes you happy?
Being at peace with myself. A fully paid vacation to an exotic destination.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Reading, writing and photography used to be my hobbies before I turned them into a career. So right now, I’m still hunting for a hobby.
- Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
I trust very little for the future. I live every day to the fullest. We only have right now.
If you would like to interact with Bonita you can find her at @bonnybonnita. You can also find her on @instagram. Also, check out her website www.aluochbonnita.com.
Pearls And Heels: Lulu Oniang