Beatrice Gachenge, 37

Head of Communications

Novartis sub-Saharan Africa
My Story

Beatrice has a large field of insights and lessons, salvaged from years in the battlefield of communication.

As the head of communications at Novartis sub-Saharan Africa in charge of 46 countries, she is the youngest member of its senior leadership.

With over 10 years as a communication executive, how has she led a long, successful career? “There are three things that make my career versatile: Networking, chemistry, and agility. Your networks should be working for you every day. You get chemistry by cultivating relationships. Your ability to learn, unlearn and relearn will make you agile.”

She has an MBA from United States International University Africa and a post-graduate diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK).

"Sometimes someone is pulling your hand up as a lady, but you are not putting your hand down, to pull someone else, to create a chain-link, to have that critical mass of women in leadership."

Before Novartis, she managed McKinsey’s External Relations for Africa. She was also IBM’s Communication Leader for East and West Africa, and Deloitte East Africa’s Marketing and Communication Manager.

She has been nominated to be a global committee member of the Pan-African and Caribbean Associates at Novartis, representing Africa.

“I am very passionate. To have an impact in people’s lives, you need to have that fire.”

She may exude passion, but does she doubt herself? “Daily. Being good at what you do does not mean you are good at everything.” She extols the virtues of learning. “Doubt keeps you on toes, to keep learning.”

At 37, what is the biggest lesson she is learning? “The definition of success. Family, mental wellness, career…the whole spectrum.”

In her career, she was most afraid when she transitioned from media to corporate, from known to unknown. “I had to learn a lot, and learn fast. I had to remain agile, and challenge myself out of my comfort zone.”

She has climbed Mt Kenya, twice. “If you can’t do everything you purpose, then where is the success?”

Is there a personal mountain she hasn’t surmounted? “So much is changing too fast, it’s a daily climb, being awake to change.”

What about that other mountain, that of the boardroom? “Sometimes someone is pulling your hand up as a lady, but you are not putting your hand down, to pull someone else, to create a chain-link, to have that critical mass of women in leadership.”

Now, as a Rotarian, she is sending the elevator back down by mentoring other people.

Eddy Ashioya