34-year-old scientist, Adriana Marais is the only woman in Africa who is likely to start a new life on planet Mars, she shares her journey and success tips to the youth
I was fortunate to meet Adriana at the Jacaranda FM business breakfast in association with Standard Bank on 16 November 2017 at Montecasino. The event was really inspirational as there were renowned South Africans who aim to shape this country for the better. One of them was Adriana Marais whom I had a chat with. This is how the conversation turned out:
What, from your childhood, attracted you to the science field?
We are inquisitive beings and science is one of the fields that aims to answer life’s questions in detailed ways. Many people are terrified of science but I feel we need to change our way of thinking because we rely on technology to survive in this world. Embracing technology, curiosity and a little bit of Mathematics here and there is a good thing, especially for children. I believe we are all scientists at heart.
And why did you consider science as a career?
Well, I applied for Jazz at varsity but didn’t get through because I didn’t have a music background from high school! Physics was my second option, and I am glad I chose it because I love challenges. I feel it’s more rewarding to choose the hardest routes that create an impact. For me, Quantum Physics was a no-brainer and I love what I do.
What do you currently do?
I am the head of innovation of SAP Africa, one of the largest software companies in the world, doing innovation in Africa. We help small businesses go digital and ensure big business partner up with startups to be innovative. We also do a lot of research in the technological sphere.
You are the only woman in Africa who volunteered to go to space, how were you selected to be one of the top 100 finalists for the Mars One Project?
The journey started five years ago when I saw it in the papers. I knew then that it is my destiny to spend the rest of my life on a different planet.
How was the application process?
I was one of the 200 000 people who applied online. We submitted videos, wrote essays on how we face fears, how we work in a diverse team and have then been narrowed down to top 100 through interviews and medical examination over the years. Everything has been online so far but I look forward to next year where we will hopefully meet and have the final top 40, which is the next stage. Only 24 people will head to Mars over the next few years.
Lastly, what is your advice to young people who want to be successful in whatever career-field they are passionate about?
You have to give your dreams space to grow and then fight to achieve them because no one else will do that for you. You are the only one who sees your vision, dreams and your passion. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible to be where you want to be in life because it’s those dreams that will result in a sense of achievement and worth for your short life.
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