From a career perspective, this year has been really, really good for me. I’ve moved twice in roles. I started the year in technology, then I moved on to the pharma side of our business. Now I’m the CEO of our biotech company, 3Sixty Biomedicine. It focuses on allopathic medicines and manufactures herbal and traditional based medicines and products. We’re also investing in natural and organic science solutions for poorly met medical conditions and have an entire range of women’s health products.
I’m extremely proud of it. It’s a career pivot that I would have never expected, but I’m like, “This is it. This makes so much sense.” Pharma is an essential service and hasn’t been negatively impacted by lockdown. Every industry now, as I look, is eventually getting into some kind of biotech. Apple plays in the health space with their wearables and now, as they progress further, there’s more and more space in there.
To Every Story
Being in South Africa, we were really just watching the pandemic story from the outside for a long time. I kept reading that South Africa’s disease profile is really risky. We have a high HIV and TB prevalence and they’re associated with an increased risk for COVID-19 mortality. When it finally got here, there was a feeling of: “our health infrastructure is not ready, we are not ready.”
The term “social distance” does not consider the fact that a lot of people live in confined spaces. What does social distancing look like in squatter camps and high-density neighborhoods, where there isn’t any sanitation or facilities in the tiny cube or shack that you’re stuck in?
Board member, Kgololo Academy
I’m on the board and fundraising committee of Kgololo Academy, a school in Alexandra, Johannesburg. It is a woman-run school and 99% of the educators are women. My Hult Alumni Chapter won $500 at the Global Alumni Day and they were kind enough to donate that money to Kgololo Academy. That’s a much bigger resilience story—how that school just kept adapting and reinventing themselves.
No one was presenting content in a way that’s digestible to normal people.
Think of nutrition labels. You probably know that you should take somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 calories a day—but people don’t understand their daily carbon footprint. It’s usually in the context of manufacturers, or countries. Once something is quantifiable, you can make a better decision and it’s a harder issue to ignore.
Clever carbon came at a really good time.
It was something that kept me busy in the initial stages of lockdown. I wanted to do something different in the sustainability space. I’d been volunteering for another organization, but found it was hard to reach audiences outside of those who already care. But even promoting a more sustainable lifestyle, I’d ask, “why? What’s the impact of that?” That’s what led me to do more research on carbon footprinting.
My sustainability journey started in 2017.
A lot of things just culminated; I went vegetarian, then a month later, vegan. But what really accelerated it was moving to Europe, specifically to East London, where a lot of people really care. Here, I can go into a convenience store and refill my dishwashing liquid—I would never be able to do that elsewhere. I’ve learned so many new things. That’s how everything just happened.
The #sustainability community is strong.
There’s so much content, especially on Instagram. I had no idea it existed. We’ve been learning from other accounts and sharing it, trying to engage our users, getting people to nominate a song to our Spotify playlist. I’ve had people invite me to do a podcast, and this, and that. Having people reach out, wanting to help, wanting to volunteer, and seeing that they really get what I’m trying to do—those are the highs.
I work at a scaleup, a high-growth company, as part of the leadership.
Our decision making is based on a combination of advice from our investors and the outcomes of our weekly leadership calls, where we talk about the most important strategic tasks and decisions we have to make.
The beauty of the smaller company, like a startup or a scaleup, is that you know everybody personally. Of course, in challenging periods, this is exactly what makes it difficult. The most challenging period I’ve ever faced in my life, honestly, was making the tough decisions to lay people off—because you look at the spreadsheet and you know exactly who this person is going to be.
I have my own wellbeing routine—it’s very strict now, an advanced routine, I’d say. I wake up at 6am, meditate, stretch, cycle, work out, and journal. I started fasting too—prolonged fasting. I once went 60+ hours without food, just water. I do that once a month, plus cold showers in the morning. It’s still painful, even now, but when you’re done, you’re fully awake. All that negativity you might have stored inside, it’s coming out because you’re gasping for air. After that, you don’t need coffee anymore.
When I was living in the Netherlands a few years ago, I started to appreciate the beauty of cycling and owning a bike. It gives you freedom. That’s why, in 2019, during summer, I bought a bike. I believe freedom is the most important thing besides health, as we've learned this year. A lot of people take freedom for granted, but that bike can take me anywhere I want to go.
I’m also working on the side. It’s not work actually, it’s a passion. My best friend and I are finalizing an ebook, a unique holistic framework to help improve mental health among young men. We’ve been through this same journey ourselves, when we worked together in finance. I believe so many young men are struggling in life and don’t feel fulfilled because they have no purpose, no guidance. And then you eat terrible food, watch too much news, social media, end up in this vicious cycle—there’s no escape. I believe mental health is the symptom, not the problem, and I think we can help. It’s what I’m most proud of—it’s our chance to help the community and give back.
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