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It was a joy to attend and participate as a speaker at the Think Future 2 conference, held at the Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The theme was Challenging Perspectives and I spoke on ‘The Power of Data and Partnerships’. 

With over 250 people in attendance, it was three days filled with brilliant speakers, engaging breakaway sessions, plus fun activities and dinner nights (I especially loved trying ‘Bobotie’, a traditional South African dish, for the first time.) 

For this article, I want to focus on three main takeaways that resonated with me and directly challenged my perspective on life, work, and impact. 

It’s All About The Vibes

Without a doubt, this was one of the best conferences I’ve attended. Why? One word: VIBES. The organizers intentionally created an environment filled with collaborative, energetic and loving vibes that encouraged us all to be transparent with one another, open to learn from one another and to have FUN with one another. It was a reminder that in our daily work and relationships, we have the power to create similar environments which allow us to be more productive, kind, and positively impactful on others.  

Transparency Is The Doorway to Trust

A big discussion point at the conference was the importance of partnerships. To build productive and lasting partnerships, common interest and trust are essential. In order to cultivate trust, transparency is key – the willingness to share our work processes, failures, lessons learned, and best practices. It is in that transparency that we are able to connect with one another, feel less isolated, and form trusted partnerships that increase our probability of achieving desired project and program outcomes.

Constantly Challenge Biases

We had a ‘Challenging Perspectives’  breakaway session on Day 3 (facilitated by Dr. Alia Weston, Associate Professor at Ontario College of Art and Design) and reviewed several case studies from the past where the competency level of professionals in various fields (e.g. medicine) had been misjudged incorrectly based on either gender, age, and/or race biases.

We also discussed a past community-based development project that was implemented in several countries across Africa that resulted in several failures and lessons learned – due in part to biases factored into project design and about the communities involved.

The case studies and in-depth discussions helped us identify our personal biases and encouraged us to be more open to alternative perspectives that can prove beneficial to our work, interactions with others, and life as a whole. 

In conclusion, the Think Future conference was nothing short of magical. I’m grateful for the new knowledge gained, relationships formed, and of course, the unforgettable vibes 🙂

About the Author

Nwanyibuife Obiako is a Management and Leadership professional focused on strengthening health systems across Africa, in alignment with government health priorities and strategies, through the use of data-driven innovations and technology.

Between 2015-2019, Nwanyibuife has led several health strengthening program teams in the successful execution of mHealth and data collection initiatives related to emergency preparedness & response and disease surveillance, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Bank, and UNICEF.

Nwanyibuife is a Women’s Empowerment Speaker and mentor for teen girls and young women. She is on a mission to see more African women in management and leadership roles in the digital health field, and within the public and private sector as a whole.