My journey with 54gene, much like most other staff who joined in the early days, began with an inspiring and earnest articulation of the company’s vision by Dr. Abasi. My previous experience working with startups already had me invested in the structure and growth opportunities such budding environments offered, but hearing what 54gene aimed to accomplish in Africa urged me to seize the rare opportunity of being a part of an organization that had the potential to revolutionize the status-quo and evoke great changes on the continent.
Joining 54gene was an interesting phase for me, especially being the only female on the senior team at the time. It felt very much like a boys’ club, but was hardly intimidating as I already had experience in such situations. Soon enough, it didn’t matter that I was the only lady on the team, as every one of my teammates was warm and extremely receptive, and it quickly began to feel like family. In no time, we had bonded, formed inside jokes, and even developed our own little rituals such as getting lunch together. Every ounce of success we accomplished was a result of team effort, and we shared the joys together every way we could.
I was no stranger to the healthcare industry when I joined the team. With a degree in Biomedical technology, I had briefly interned in a lab just after getting my degree before finally joining 54gene. I realized early on that my love and passion for business outweighed my curiosity for science. But now, I have the opportunity to put both aspects to use in my new role, as it’s imperative to understand the inner workings of the lab in order to make sales to potential clients.
Selling science to people was something entirely new to me, but the support from my talented team and Dr. Abasi, and the confidence they had in me was tremendous and encouraging. I have had to learn a lot on the job, and the challenges I have faced have not only helped improve my skill set, but also shaped me into the professional I am today.
The pace at which we have grown is unbelievable for any organisation. Before the pandemic, we were a total of 41 staff, but as of today, I’m not even aware of our headcount. It’s quite hard to keep track of now. Along with our exponential growth has come a certain maturity, and seeing things evolve and advance, observing the way things are handled differently, and the structures we’ve put in place to match this growth, has been like watching a baby crawl, walk and finally learn to fly.
I have made so many fond memories with the team. We always find time to hang out and unwind at 54gene. We work hard but play harder. Before the pandemic, people’s birthdays were such a huge deal. We would get a cake and dance and have a really great time. We also went on a retreat, and had the most amazing Christmas party in 2019. Everyone showed up dressed and ready to have fun. It was great seeing us all let our hair down. It was the complete definition of fun, and every now and then I go back to those pictures to reminisce and smile.
I believe my greatest accomplishments in the 2 years I’ve been with the company are driving revenue, and building as well as leading the sales and customer support team in Nigeria, because we didn’t quite have that a while ago. It has been an absolute delight to watch my small team grow from 2 to 11 amazing people.
My journey with 54gene has stretched me both mentally and emotionally. The wealth of knowledge I have had the opportunity of tapping into, and the team of very qualified and experienced professionals I work with, and call family, are some of the best in their fields. I feel so blessed to have teachers in these incredible people, and work close enough with them to learn for free so many things you’d have to pay for in an MBA class. I am grateful for every one of these people who have transcended from colleagues to life long friends.
As the year progresses, I look forward to seeing more accomplishments from us. More revenue, more expansion of our footprint in medical research, and other scientific exploits. To anyone looking to become a genie, and to the new genies on the team, I say, you need to look at 54gene as a land of growth and opportunity, and become malleable to be able to learn. There is so much going on – we are doing, and will continue to do amazing things. You have to be deliberate about learning and updating your knowledge base, because we’re growing every single day. Don’t stay in a corner, be open, and stay true to your authentic self.