The vibrant Mercy Sepadi, 29, Chief Operating Officer of Region F’s Environmental Health Branch, is among the Mail & Guardian (M&G) newspaper’s 200 highly acclaimed young South African leaders to watch in 2022. Every year , the investigative weekly asks its readers to name young people under the age of 35 who have achieved extraordinary success and who stand out in their field.
The prestigious list, published once a year, recognizes talent in the fields of arts and culture, politics and government, education, environment, business, civil society, film and media, health, justice and law, science and technology, and sport.
M&G’s coveted honor honors young people – as architects of South Africa’s inclusive and equal future – who are positively impacting the world through forward-looking innovation and passion, recognizing them as the leaders of the current generation.
She was nominated for being a pioneer in environmental health. His job involves overseeing the work of 27 employees, including five environmental health practitioners, two pollution control officers and 20 pest control officers.
Sepadi graduated from the University of Johannesburg with a BTech degree in environmental health and a master’s degree in public health, the first in her family to do so. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Health Sciences at UJ, “assessing respiratory health risk and impacts among informal street food vendors in Johannesburg, South Africa”.
Her vision is to bring commitment, integrity and competitiveness to the workplace while contributing to the growth of the industry in which she works. She loves her job and strives to add value wherever she is.
“Hardship comes in many forms, but as a person you need to find ways to keep going and motivate yourself while you’re at it,” she says.
Sepadi has published four academic papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented his research results at various international conferences. Her knowledge has earned her positions as a tutor, moderator, guest lecturer, and thesis reviewer for the Bachelor of Environmental Health and Master of Public Health programs.
“As women, we must continue to aim for leadership positions. Our situation is mostly understood by us. If we don’t occupy strategic positions, it will always be difficult for us to be heard,” she says.
She is part of a mentorship program that runs between Iphutheng Primary School in Alexandra and Saint Stithians Secondary School in Sandton. The project is designed to bring together students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to share experiences and build friendships.
Her mentoring project also aims to improve students’ self-confidence and well-being. She serves as a role model by exposing students to a variety of stimulating environments.
“Rather than a predetermined expectation to be met, the program strives to create positive motivational experiences for learners to imagine the possibilities they can live with,” she says.
Sepadi’s commitments have extended beyond the country’s borders. She is a member of Women’s Economic Imperative, a global initiative to empower women to achieve economic equality by maximizing their potential in the global workforce and as entrepreneurs.
She is also a member of Pan African Women in Health, which brings together leaders who share a common goal of increasing and improving women’s opportunities as well as developing the next generation of African health leaders and performers.
“The next generation of women shouldn’t go through the struggles women go through today,” she says.
Sepadi has created a WhatsApp group that helps struggling graduates find work opportunities. She also helps graduates with their CVs and preparing for interviews. Many of these graduates have come to her through lecturers, friends and families. She has helped many people find jobs through her initiative.
Follow Sepadi on Twitter – @marcispady
Written by Lesego Lala