For the inaugural edition of our latest feature, In Conversation With, we are joined by Omphile Dimpane, well-known for her willingness to pay it forward for those looking to break into the industry.
APR: Welcome Omphile, and thanks for chatting to us. For the benefit of those who don’t know Omphile, please tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Omphile?
OD: Omphile is a Free Stater who holds a BSc Stats and Biology degree and a short course in Introduction to Qualitative Research. She is a mother of two girls and enjoys the outdoors. Omphile is one of the many who chooses to see the positive in every situation and finds humour in tragedy. She is a strong believer of earning her keep and paying it forward. “No” in her vocabulary only means “NOT NOW”. Every door that is shut in her face is motivation to knock harder.
APR: Tell us about your current role, and what your ordinary day looks like.
OD: I am a Clinical Research Associate and my typical day includes Trial Master File (TMF) review, making Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS) updates, site management calls, Informed Consent Form (ICF) customization, query management, site feasibility and initiation, site staff training, study supply shipments and distribution to sites, remote and/or on-site monitoring, report writing and completing training to improve my skills. (Activities differ on a daily).
APR: If you were to choose one, what would be the most rewarding part of your job?
OD: On-site monitoring. I enjoy being in the pharmacy and reviewing the site and participant files. Resolving site issues brings me joy and I get fulfilment when I leave the site better than I found it.
APR: As you know as well, most people tend to bump into the industry accidentally. How was it for you? How did you first hear about the industry?
OD: I took part in multiple committees and clubs back in varsity and was privileged enough to be one of the organizers of career development sessions. That is when I learned about the vast opportunities in this industry. However, my interest to be in the field was sparked when I participated in a cosmetic clinical trial in 2007. The study was designed to test the efficacy of a cosmetic shampoo in strengthening natural African hair. Since that point, my curiosity kept evolving and luckily I am not a cat (HAHAHA).
APR: The industry is also well-known for being one of the most difficult to break in to. Any wise words for people looking to get into the industry?
OD: Keep yourself informed, ask as many questions as possible and never approach anyone with a blank page, it is easy to willingly assist a driven individual who makes effort to build themselves up than to mould one who has no initiative. Be intentional in your approach, always! You are a brand and no one will manage you but yourself.
APR: You’ve held a variety of roles from Data Management, you spent some time as a Project Assistant before becoming a CRA, what have been some of the key learnings you’ve picked up along the way that make Omphile who she is today?
OD: The two most valuable learnings that I have picked up and have saved me from self-destruction and keeps me sane are creating firm boundaries and asking for help when needed. Asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness.
APR: Obviously, over the 12 years or so that you’ve been in the industry, you’ve met quite a lot of people. Tell us about the people who have influenced you along the way.
OD: Sello Monene, Nomfundo Cele, Kenneth Nkadimend, Idi Chieza, Thabo Thulare, Lerato Pule, Victor Ramaetse, Major Gama, Gilbert Ogeti, Tebatso Manaka, Winnie Chuma, Khululiwe Magudulela, Masilo Maloko, Warren Mokoka, Godfrey Rikhotso, Seelane Mofokeng, Khuliso Tshibete, Peter Makuhunga, Caroline Sibeko, Vanessa Marais, Amukelani Mabunda, Phidelia Monamodi, Raphala Seima, Marelize Karsten and many more, have motivated, encouraged, mentored and guided me. In many ways than one, they have challenged me to break out of my shell and for that I am grateful. For one to grow, they need to step out of their comfort zone.
APR: If anything, what has changed for you over the past 18 months with COVID-19 now being a notable part of our working lives?
OD: The vitality of being kind to oneself, cliché as it may be, I can’t pour out of an empty cup. This pandemic has showed me that the working environment is continuously changing and one has to be able to adapt.
APR: Have you been able to support any COVID-19 studies in your current role? And if so, how has the experience been for you?
OD: Yes. Excitingly challenging. Working with rapidly changing live data requires one to refine their attention to detail skills, accuracy and timely reporting of data.
APR: With the industry being so fast-paced, how do you recharge your batteries to keep yourself going?
OD: I have always loved poetry; it keeps me grounded. To recharge I write some pieces, listen to music, take walks and be on the open road.
APR: If you had to start over in the industry, what would you do differently, if anything?
OD: Absolutely nothing. Every experience I have gone through served its purpose. Nothing happens by chance.