Dr Sawsan Al Madhi knew from a very early age that she wanted to follow her father’s footsteps into the world of medicine.
The Iraqi graduated from Sanaa University in Yemen in 1999, after which she pursued her post graduate studies in the UK.
She joined the Friends of Cancer Patients organisation in 2003 and became director general this year.
“I always felt that there was a human touch in the FoCP organisation because people benefit from our services, whether financial or emotional,” Dr Al Madhi says. “We also offer services to help the families of patients cope. Sometimes the patient is stronger than his or her family.”
She says that people should not only aim for excellence in their positions but for mastery of their profession.
“If you want to achieve mastery, you have to know the organisation inside out and exactly how you got to the position you are in,” says Dr Al Madhi, who started as a part-time volunteer in FoCP arranging patient files.
“You have to start from somewhere. It’s usually interest that gets you started, but it is passion that keeps driving you.
“If you wake up in the morning, and you are not excited to go to work, there’s something wrong.”
Along with running the FoCP, Dr Al Madhi is a visiting lecturer at the Canadian University Dubai.
“I love learning and I love teaching, and there’s nothing better than reaching the minds of students,” she says, adding that she hopes that through her work in medical and healthcare research, philanthropy and education, she is contributing to the country and its people.
She believes the UAE is a land of opportunity, and she is an example of someone who has seized that opportunity.
“The UAE appreciates talent and hard-working people, and if you strive for mastery, you can become whatever you want here,” Dr Al Madhi says.
She says one of her biggest achievements was her role in the Pink Caravan campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer.
“Since 2011, we have given free check-ups to more than 35,000 men and women in the UAE,” Dr Al Madhi says.
She has encountered obstacles, but she stresses that there is always another perspective.
“When life offers you challenges, you can always find opportunities in these challenges and you just have to change your mindset,” she says.
Dr Al Madhi, an Iraqi but born and raised in the UAE, says her parents were a big influence in her life.
“They played important roles in contributing to healthcare and education in Sharjah, so I had big shoes to fill,” she says, adding that the UAE’s leadership also inspires her to be the best she can be.