Striving for greater heights
He says it is not about how many times or how hard you fall but rather how you pick yourself up and be able to stand tall in the face of adversity. As Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA)’s newly appointed Deputy Director of Data Quality Assurance, Dr. Isak Neema is confident that with the experiences he has been through he is battle ready to contribute towards achieving the Agency’s strategic objectives.
“My expertise runs across the wide spectrum of the activity we do here, so I feel I have a lot to offer to the Agency and not just in the position I was appointed for,” he says.
Dr. Neema obtained a degree majoring in Statistics and Mathematics from the University of Namibia (UNAM) in 2000. He then completed his Master of Science (MSc) in Applied Statistics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in USA in 2003. He is now a proud holder of a PhD in Applied Statistics from Reading University in UK which he obtained in 2010.
Dr. Neema says it was a challenge to choose a study field upon entering the university.
“In those days career fairs were not common, all we had in mind was engineering, teaching or nursing, however after a year I found my path which I am following today,” he says.
According to Dr. Neema, it was not easy as he did not receive any financial assistance in the form of a bursary or a scholarship in his first two years at the University.
“My parents really worked very hard to support me in my first two years at the University, but after that everything was smooth sailing,” he recalls.
For the past 13 years, Dr. Neema has been working at UNAM in various teaching and management capacities. He started off as a tutor in the then Statistics Department and worked his way up to Senior level and head of the Statistics and Population Studies Department of the Faculty of Science.
Being a certified data analyst with an extensive research background, Dr. Neema has conducted and facilitated training for various institutions.
Dr. Neema says what attracted his attention to the NSA is the Agency’s creative atmosphere and direction it is taking in striving for perfection and an all-round focus business plan.
“With quality leadership and sound management, the Agency has proven to be a class of its own not only in the production and delivery of timely statistics that the country so needed but also the services they rendered to the nation at large,” he says.
Dr. Neema’s role is to ensure that all NSA’s products and services adhere to international norms and quality standards, drive the development, implementation and maintenance of NSA Quality Assurance policies, procedures and continuous improvement programs, and capacity building.
According to him the production of quality product and services will enhance NSA as a reputable agency of higher caliber at local, regional and international levels.
“As a nation on the move towards Vision 2030, it is imperative that we cement the notion of evidence based decision making at all spheres of our society if we are to succeed in this endeavor, and thus my role at NSA indirectly impact on this,” he emphasises.
Dr. Neema stressed that it takes a lot to hold this position, however, he is confident as he is equipped with vast knowledge about data quality and integrity and a full understanding of the demand for statistics in Namibia and the world in general.
“Well, I am more of a leader than a manager, I am very proactive, open minded, very flexible, a team player and totally respectful,” he adds.
Dr. Neema further says being accorded the opportunity to lead the Department of Statistics and Population Studies at UNAM was one of his career highlights.
He was entrusted with the responsibility to shape the lives of many young people in the area of Statistics and Population Studies.
This meant he had to ensure the formulation of quality and responsive programmes whilst overseeing and maintaining the quality of teaching and learning environment.
“It gives me great pleasure to see a number of young people whose future is so bright and making headway in life as a result of my action. This is exactly what I am looking forward to in my new career here at NSA,” he says.
As the division of Quality Assurance is new, Dr. Neema says his immediate step is to set up mechanisms to operationalize the division.
Dr. Neema says he is inspired by changes he brings in people lives. Having grown up during the colonial era and in the war zone, Dr. Neema says he was inspired by the courage of the gallant freedom fighters that fought hard and tirelessly against all odds.
“They have sacrificed their lives selfishly so that today we enjoy the freedom. Their courage inspires me to perform to the best of my ability in any activity I am involved,” says Dr. Neema.
Despite being tasked with an important responsibility, Dr. Neema says he still takes time to unwind.
“I am a fitness fanatic, I go to the gym five or seven days a week, it helps to keep me fit and fresh to take on the next day task. I believe a healthy mind is always productive,” he says.
However, he says most important of all he spends quality time with his family as he is a married father of three.
Dr. Neema concludes that together with the spirited staff at NSA and the indispensable management team under the capable leadership of the Statistician General, he can only aspire to greater heights.
By Truly Xamises Prime Focus magazine