Dr Lebo Maroo has been appointed as the new Deputy CEO of loveLife, South Africa’s leading national youth leadership development organisation.
A graduate of the Higher Institute of Medical Sciences in Cuba, she is a medical doctor who has worked in various settings within the healthcare environment over the last 25 years. Dr Maroo will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to loveLife and grow the organisation from strength to strength. Throughout her career, she has acquired numerous skills and competencies that have enabled her to hold senior positions in some of the most reputable private and public healthcare institutions in South Africa.
As Deputy CEO of loveLife, Dr Maroo’s role will include collaborating with the CEO, Grace Matlhape, to design, refine and implement loveLife’s strategic plan whilst ensuring that the budget, human resources and priorities are aligned to the organisation’s overall strategy. Her role also involves providing strategic vision and overall leadership for the organisation’s operations and business support services and ensuring organisational sustainability and operational efficiencies, among other responsibilities.
loveLife promotes numerous values, including action, passion, innovation, integrity and youthfulness. “I embrace all these values not only in how I do business, but also in my daily life. They just resonate with me as a person and it must be remembered that youthfulness isn’t just about being young; it’s about finding new and pioneering ways of doing things. It’s really about relevance and is very much linked to our value of innovation,” says Dr Maroo.
Speaking about her appointment at loveLife, she says she joined the organisation at an opportune time, when it’s really endorsing youth leadership development with a bold and beautiful strategy. Although loveLife still works to reduce HIV infections among youth, in 2013 it changed its focus to achieve the same through the promotion of youth development as a strategy in a much broader sense. “At loveLife, young people are given the necessary tools to enable them to be positive leaders in their communities and not victims of their circumstances,” she explains. “They are encouraged to have a healthy sense of identity, purpose and self-esteem, while also being given the necessary tools to better cope with their challenges.”
Before taking up her position at loveLife, Dr Maroo held the title of Clinical Executive at Metropolitan Health Risk Management, where her duties involved client and stakeholder management, claims risk management and project management, general management and planning as well as other responsibilities.
Prior to this, she held numerous other senior roles within various companies, including the South African Medical Association, Gen-Health Medical Scheme and Mx Health among others.
Not only has Dr Maroo had a rich and varied career spanning many years, she also experienced unique and challenging times during her youth. “I left South Africa just after my 15th birthday and had to grow overnight from a child, to a responsible and resilient woman who could take care of herself,” she says. “I spent just over a year in Morogoro, Tanzania and then travelled to Cuba.”
While in Cuba, she obtained her school-leaving qualification and a medical degree from the Higher Institute of Medical Sciences Faculty in Santiago de Cuba in 1989. She returned to Tanzania soon afterwards to help in the provision of healthcare services to the ANC cadres and the surrounding local communities.
Coming home in 1992, she took up her first job with the City of Johannesburg, providing healthcare services at clinics in and around the city. Dr Maroo then continued making a massive contribution to healthcare in South Africa.
Family is very important to her, especially as she grew up away from her own. She wants young people to know that they can still live life to the fullest even if they’re not close to their families or don’t have their adequate support. “I am pleased that loveLife acts as a pillar of support to those young people coming from unstable backgrounds,” she says. “It guides and nurtures them, while also looking after their emotional needs.”
Q AND A WITH DR LEBO MAROO
Where were you born?
“I was born in Moletsane, Soweto and attended primary and high school in Tladi, which is also in Soweto. I later lived in Mabopane in Pretoria for about two years, before leaving South Africa into exile.”
Why did you leave South Africa when you were so young?
“I did not leave South Africa out of my own will. At that time, I was living with my dad who was a political activist and had just been released for Robben Island. Given the stance of the Apartheid regime, I guess I was guilty by association. This forced my father to take me with him when he went into exile, to protect me from the possible brutality that we all know the previous government was capable of.”
Why did you take up the position of Deputy CEO at loveLife?
“loveLife came as a natural choice to me, being one among a few organisations in South Africa that provide comprehensive youth development programmes and initiatives. The cherry on top that is unique to loveLife is the success stories as told by the young leaders themselves. It is amazing to see initiatives that really work for the target group they are intended for. “When I practiced as a medical doctor, I saw how young people were treated within the healthcare system. Young people are not miniature adults; they deserve to be heard, understood and supported as young people. loveLife, in my opinion, is doing just that – and more. I had no reason not to take up this position. There is nothing better than working with the young, for the young and among the young. loveLife develops young leaders who are able to address their own challenges and understand themselves, young leaders with a sense of self-worth who can make the right decisions for themselves and not succumb to peer pressure. I believe that I can play a powerful and positive role in shaping the kind of adults our young people actually want to become, only in loveLife.”
As a mother of three, do you relate to the work loveLife is doing?
“Yes, I have three daughters, who are my pride and joy. As a mom of young girls – who are all in their 20s – I can better relate to young people. loveLife also gives me the platform to have a greater understanding of their issues and be an enabling agent of change.”
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