- Dr Hyasinta Jaka, the Principal of Mwanza College of Health and Allied Sciences, and a part time lecturer at Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS). She has several publications and one book titled Gastrointestinal Infectious Diseases published by Nova-USA.
- She is the Zonal Health Training Coordinator supervising 30 health training institutions in the Lake Zone (private and government) and reports to the Training Department in the Health ministry. She shares her story on how she made it to where she is today.
How did you get to where you are today in your leadership position?
I joined medical school in 1999 at Hubert Kairuki Memorial University in Dar es Salaam. My internship was at Bugando Medical Centre (2004-2005). The ministry of Health employed me as a tutor at the same time working at Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS) as part time tutor and treating patients at Bugando Zonal Hospital. Between 2006 and 2009, I did my Master’s degree in Internal Medicine at CUHAS. From 2012 to2014, I pursued a Master’s degree in Medical Education in Maastricht, Holand.
In 2017, I was chosen to be the Principal of Mwanza College of Health and Allied Sciences (MWACHAS) at Bugando. I never dreamt of being a leader in any public institution. This is because of the way my father trained us in our family. He used to tell us that everyone is a leader from the family to the organisational level. I had a dream of being a doctor and mentor so that I could transfer the knowledge to others.
It is of paramount importance for women to pursue what they believe in and not wait for scholarships.
Did you always know where you wanted to be?
I had the dream of being a doctor and a teacher from when I was a young girl. When I was at my high school my self esteem grew and I started working towards my vision. That really helped me to be who I am today.
What is your leadership style and how did you find out about it?
Transformational leadership calls for the use of different skills (team work, motivation, creativity, feedback, improving my emotional intelligence so that I recognise, understand, and choose how I think, feel, and act to my staff.
Succession and mentorship are the things that I use to help my juniors to their careers. I found transformational leadership style as the best style because I focus on change and improvement of organisation. You focus on vision at the same time you help others to recognise their potentials.
Many people may have struggled with finding a mentor or support to help them in their career journey. Did you ever receive any form of support or mentoring as you moved along?
I worked in a place where all members were male for almost nine years. I struggled to have one - but, eventually, I decided my own way. I applied scholarship to study in Maastricht. It was when I opened my eyes on issues of mentorship; the benefits and how to mentor others. I started to do so when I came back to Tanzania. I advise and guide others, I teach and also do counselling to students and tutors from other organisations. I was never mentored.
You’re mentoring other women as well. What do you look out for before you commit to such a mentoring relationship with any person?
I always make sure I know the behaviour and attitude of the person. Because I don’t want to choose whom to mentor, but who to mentor, so she can change. I belief knowing behaviour and attitude of yourself will always help during mentorship process.
What about formal training? For those who want to be leaders, do you advise that they get any formal training?
We need both formal and informal (mentorship). Formal will consolidate the inborn leadership skills that one has.
What do you think is causing the lack of diversity in top leadership? Why are women not rising to the top?
I can’t say women are not at the top. We have a woman-- Vice President (Samia Suluhu Hassan). Some countries have women as presidents. What I see now is the more involvement and the implementation of SDG Goal-5: to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.
What can women do to take matters into their hands?
We need to empower women and promote gender equality. Empowerment starts with us. We need to help each other, mentor each other - and love each other. Women in top position should assist other women to achieve their career ambitions.
What do you think is the best strategy to sustain women empowerment initiatives to last into posterity?
There should be mentorship forum for every cadre. Every woman leader should be asked to show how many people she has mentored - and where/what they are doing today.
You’re a vibrant and bold leader. How did you develop this confidence?
My parents were leaders. My father used to explain to us on how to stand as a leader.
He would tell me: ‘Hyasinta, you should be accountable, confident. You should develop a decision-making habit...’ This was his clarion call to me. This was the one which helped to develop my leadership skills.
Can you tell us more about self-care - and how you accomplish it as a leader?
I know that, in order to know yourself, you have to understand your ‘be, know and do’ attributes.
This is what I do. Just like organisations have a mission statement, a vision statement and values, leaders need to have the same for themselves.
Looking back: What advice do you have for your younger sisters?
They should be highly self-motivated in order to learn from their seniors.