Top Female Healthcare Professionals discuss “Networking” at the HFN Women’s Forum Launch


The Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN), under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Ajayi, held its 2023 Annual Conference & General Meeting on the 3rd and 4th of February at The Harbour Point, Wilmot Point Road, Victoria Island, Lagos.

This event themed; “Building the Healthcare of our Future”, featured healthcare professionals, health financing experts with other key players and stakeholders in the industry, who proffered various solutions to current challenges in the Nigerian healthcare sector.

Also, during the conference, the organisation launched its Women’s Forum with some of the most influential women in the current Nigerian health space in attendance. This part of the event was moderated by the first female NMA Lagos Secretary General – Dr. Ime Okon, and the keynote speech on “The Power of Networking” delivered by Mrs. Towun Candide-Johnson – Founder, GAIA Africa, and special guest speaker for the evening.

The HFN Women’s Forum was initiated to cater to the peculiar needs of women in the health care sector. According to Dr Pamela Ajayi, “As women, only we can understand our struggles in our work environment and beyond… Hence, this program is created for Women, by Women, to address our challenges and ensure we excel at all fronts”. Unlike other platforms for specific cadres in the healthcare industry, this forum accommodates “every woman in healthcare”. Whether she is in the clinical field as a doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, radiographer, pharmacist, medical laboratory scientist and so on; or she is a non-clinical medical or healthcare worker in hospital administration, health management, health tech, health insurance and the likes.

In the keynote address, Mrs. Towun emphasized that “Networking is not merely about attending a group of events, or making numerous superficial connections that would boost one’s career. Rather, it’s about deliberately creating a well of mutually beneficial relationships with individuals who do not depend on you“. She further highlighted that, “Networks connect you to others. Networks can amplify your influence by connecting you to individuals who have your interest and can help you succeed in a leadership role… Networking is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Your network should be a collection of individuals that offer you diversity”.

After this, was a power-packed panel session moderated by Dr. Alero Ann-Roberts with phenomenal panellists including Prof. Folashade Ogunsola – first female Vice Chancellor, UNILAG; Dr. Modupe Elebute-Odunsi – Founder, Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre; Mrs. Clare Omatseye – Founder, JNC International and VP, West Africa Healthcare Federation; Dr. Pamela Ajayi – Founder, SYNLAB Nigeria and Chairperson, HFN; and Dr. Dawodu Olayemi – Consultant Pathologist and Career Mentor.

During this plenary discussion, each of the panellists shared their success stories and the principles that guided them. Some of the nuggets shared are:

  • Do not see yourself as disadvantaged because you’re a woman. There is no glass ceiling, realize that and see how the world grovels around you.
  • Don’t show up without having your best foot forward; show up and stand out. Always bring value into every situation and quality into every conversation.

  • As a woman, you can have it all. Maybe not at the same time, but while you’re growing a career, have this at the back of your mind. Also, don’t let your academics drive you, drive your academics.
  • Hard work pays, do distributive things, surpass targets and don’t settle in it. Want more, yearn for more.

“You’ll be afraid, you’ll be scared but just try it anyway. Do it scared, do it terrified!” – Prof. Folashade Ogunsola

  • Keep a moral and spiritual compass. Listen to God’s whispers, little angels here and there. You have a responsibility to uphold. Plan your life ahead and map it out accordingly. Your mission should be going from success to significance and make impact.

  • Choose the right kind of friends and mentors for every season in your life. Find the right people to partner with and choose when to partner. Always surround yourself with a group of friends, a network. Don’t have sycophants around you. Only keep people that make you your authentic self around you. Thrive where people drive your abilities and work in certain ways or places where you set yourself apart.
  • Be disciplined. Be a team player. Persevere and gun for excellence at all times. Learn from the people that you lead or meant to lead. Build your team and ensure all of you are in synchrony, aligned with the same objective.

“Be your authentic self. Discover your person and nurture her. Follow your passion. Be a creative thinker. You need mentors. Find People that will help you in your journey” – Mrs. Clare Omatseye

  • Conquer your imposter syndrome. Identity your self-perceived weakness. Remember that when you make a mistake in the public glare, you’re not the first, you will not be the last, so forgive yourself and move on. Develop the “mind over matter” mindset. When you do, you realize that you’re a person, you matter, take that and run with it.

  • It’s not a matter of luck, work at something over and over again, up to 10,000 times. Because practice makes perfect. Be disruptive, be innovative, distribute your thinking and go the extra mile. Be the first to open the door, last to shut the door, and fill every single forms.

Key questions to consistently ask ourselves and answer as well are: What is the quality of your conversations like? Who are the people you surround yourself with? What motivates you? What is success for you? And how do you attain this success?

Also, to benefit attendees at the conference, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola recommended a book titled, “The Confidence Code”. On the other hand, Dr. Modupe Elebute-Odunsi recommended the book, “The Outliers”, and she also admonished attendees to do what they’re most passionate about and work hard at it. In Mrs Clare’s words, “Make sure you love what you do and follow your passion. It may not be medicine you end up doing, but ensure you love whatever it is that you do”.

Editor’s note:

This report was majorly contributed by Durodola Ayomide and Deborah Ojo, with photo credit to the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) Assembly on NHIA.

Leave A Reply