What you need to know:
- Networking has been important in creating linkages that enabled me to grow.
- Also I identified people whose work inspired me, followed their work and all these helped shape my journey.
Dr Rhoune Ochako is the country director at Kantar Public, a marketing data, insights, and consultancy company. Her role covers operations across East and Southern Africa, where she handles both technical aspects of work and managing staff and consultants across the markets. The adventure lover shares her career path with the Sunday Nation.
“I am the first child in my family, born in western Kenya. I went to Asumbi Girls Boarding Primary quite early, in Class 3. Unfortunately, while in that class, I lost my father, who was a teacher.
Years later, after I completed my high school at Asumbi Girls, and received my admission to join Moi University, I lost my mother, who was also a teacher. In between the loss of my father and mother there were lots of struggles that came with being an orphan.
I have a PhD in Health Sciences from Ghent University in Belgium; a Masters of Science in Social Statistics from the School of Mathematics, the University of Nairobi; a Masters of Arts in Population Studies (Demography) from the Population Studies and Research Institute, at the University of Nairobi and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography with a specialisation in Human Geography and Planning from Moi University in Eldoret.
My career began with simple roles after my undergraduate studies. I remember working at a fresh produce company to support packaging of produce for export, then I took up a role as a volunteer in a South Sudan organisation based in Nairobi.
Thereafter, I took up many roles as a research assistant supporting data collection for various organisations. When I completed my first Masters degree, I interviewed for a role with IOM, took up the opportunity but left after several months to consult for UNICEF given my background as a demographer.
Later, I was recruited as a research fellow attached to APHRC. Later, I moved to PSI, Population Council and then a startup organisation, Kesho Bora Center for Social and Health Research, where I transitioned to my current role in May.
I have met and worked with great people who mentored me. I would easily talk about Prof Marleen Temmerman, my PhD supervisor. She believed in me and gave me an opportunity to study at the prestigious Ghent University.
Many years ago, I implemented an intervention to test the use of menstrual cups among girls in informal settlements. It was life-changing for many girls and women and contributed to opening up a safe space to allow open discussions around menstruation. Networking has been important in creating linkages that enabled me to grow, also I identified people whose work inspired me, followed their work and all these helped shape my journey.
My advise to the youth is that failure is part of your success journey, do not be afraid to fail, its only what you do after you fail, that matters. If you choose to dwell on your failures, then you will not go far.
If there’s one thing I’d change about my past is to have my parents around longer, I miss them. I would not end this without mentioning that building an intimate relationship with God has helped me find my purpose and continues to shape me to be better than I was yesterday.