Agnieszka Oles, Senior Account Manager Africa, Dubai
Arrival in Dubai. I always wanted to live here since my first visit years ago. You either love or hate Dubai – I love it! Why come here? After eight years in Germany, I wanted a change and a new challenge. I love Africa, the people, the culture – so when QIAGEN decided to open a sales office for Africa in Dubai, I jumped at the chance.
Stayed in a hotel so far, but soon to move into my own apartment. Smooth acclimatization thanks to great help from our office manager. She has looked after documentation, driven me around & helped me find a nice apartment in just two days – with 20 to choose from! Dubai is very easy for expats and a great hub for flights to Africa.
QIAGEN hasn’t really been active in Africa before – apart from South Africa and distributors in Kenya and Nigeria. So we’re building up a whole sales network from scratch. With some competition strong and well established, we’re looking for experienced distributors and partners. That’s my big but exciting challenge in 2017! It’s why I wanted this job.
Our priority countries are Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The last two are a bit tricky right now. The volatile Nigerian naira makes life difficult for distributors, and there’s political unrest in Ethiopia. My job involves looking at a country’s potential, healthcare system and set-up (both public and private), finding distributors experienced in life sciences and molecular diagnostics, and evaluating their potential. I get my information from German Chambers of Commerce or medical attachés.
Traveling in Africa can be a challenge. For a meeting just 120 miles or 200 km north of Lagos, I was on the road for 11 hours – traffic jams, gigantic potholes, cows and goats blocking your way. Such burdens are common for African patients, who often have to travel a long way for medical treatment. With the scarce healthcare resources, new and innovative approaches to tackling widespread diseases are needed. Seeing the impact molecular technologies are having on the quality of life in Africa is hugely motivating for me.
With AIDS still a big problem in many African countries, our HIV assays are vital, and our QuantiFERON-TB test for tuberculosis is really needed. In Nigeria, there’s a big demand for our forensic products and paternity tests too. Our Dubai team is great – my boss, my colleagues, the work atmosphere. All totally focused on the challenge of creating something from scratch and improving people’s lives. That’s what drives me. The further I go, the better it gets.