How I Made It

Eugenia Duodu, Chemist & CEO

Eugenia Duodu is the Toronto-based CEO of Visions of Science, which inspires kids from low-income and marginalized communities to pursue careers in STEM. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Eugenia Duodu

Eugenia Duodu; @eugeniaduodu

How do you describe your job to your family?

I am the CEO of Visions of Science, a charity that works to inspire and empower youth from low-income communities through engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). We offer free and consistent programming to youth (ages 7 to 18) directly within 24 communities across the GTA.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

University of Toronto, for an honours bachelor of science in chemistry and biology, and a PhD in chemistry.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

I was volunteering with Visions of Science during my PhD and the opportunity came up for me to start running it, so I did that part-time on a volunteer basis in 2011, and decided to take over full-time in 2015.

What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done solely for money?

I worked as a person who gives out samples at Costco. People would just hover around all the time!

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Never forsake any interaction. There are a lot of things that I’ve done, things that I’ve been invited to, maybe opportunities that I’ve had that didn’t seem overtly like anything would come out of it, but that seeded other opportunities that turned into something pretty huge and awesome.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Not necessarily true: I find that you work extra hard when you do what you love—but it’s really rewarding.

How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?

I don’t see many black female CEOs or board members, especially those who run charitable organizations. I am hoping to change that!

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

Representation is definitely one, but I think it’s a little more nuanced than that….there are some female CEOs, but I don’t see many Black female CEOs. [We need to recognize that ] this representation matters—to show youth in the community that we work with leadership that’s actually reflective of them. I think that’s really important, so they can actually see that the solutions to problems facing their community can actually come from within the community, rather than externally.

Have you ever disclosed your salary to a colleague in the name of transparency? Why or why not?

Yes. I think that it’s important to have honest conversations about salaries (where appropriate) in order to address any inequality that occurs.

Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?

Having the opportunity to see these youth grow and do great things. They are already developing into such awesome leaders. I can’t wait to see how things change as a result of their influence.

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