Interesting Perspectives From a Young Ambitious Nigerian Pharmacist and Author

We sat down with Pharm. Marvelene Ekott, a young pharmacist and author from Nigeria. She shares her insights on the pharmacy profession.

The common nuance and accepted perception is that pharmacists are uniquely multifaceted professionals, with a set of skills which when tapped correctly, can be an asset to any organization.

There may be only few who exemplify this notion more than a certain young budding pharmacist from Nigeria.

Pharm. Marvelene Ekott is an early career pharmacist, entrepreneur, social media enthusiast and most impressively, a published author of a successful book.

With over 80 certifications, Marvelene is a fellow of the YALI-RLC West Africa, Ghana Cohort 15, an Alumnus of the African Leadership Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria-Young Pharmacists Group, Akwa Ibom state.

To mark the World Pharmacists Day, we sat down with Pharm. Marvelene seeking to gain insights and perspectives on topics related to her and the profession in general.

Growing up was it always a dream of yours to be a pharmacist?

Honestly from a young age, I have always envisioned myself being a pharmacist.

That being said, I had a brief period where I was fascinated with becoming an accountant because for some reason, I felt accountants were the ones who were rich (laughs).

But at the end of the day, pharmacy was where I truly wanted to be since I have always looked at the profession with massive admiration.

I noticed in Nigeria; pharmacists are addressed with the title ‘Pharm.’  and not ‘Dr.’ as in countries like Kenya. Why was it important for your country to make this distinction?

So, in Nigeria, we actually are addressed as Pharm. particularly those of us who are graduates of the Bachelor of Pharmacy program.

For those who have undergone the PharmD program, they have 2 options; either referred to as Pharm. or Dr.- purely depending on their preference.

Personally, I think bearing Pharm. is quite distinctive.

There is no conflict or confusion where one has to constantly clarify and justify whether they are indeed a pharmacist, medical doctor, dentist, PHD or otherwise.

All titles aside though, for me what is important is understanding what your role as a pharmacist is and how patients can derive value from you.

Last month GSK announced its plans to cease commercialization of its prescription medicines and vaccines in Nigeria through the GSK local operating companies. After over 50 years of operations in the country. How would you describe the state of the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria?

I have to admit that the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry is still growing and, in my opinion, needs as much support as possible from the Government.

The cessation of operations by GSK has huge ramifications in Nigeria, particularly on job tenure and general employment. It is expected that many pharmacists (and other professionals) will lose their jobs and source of livelihood.

For me it is devastating.

That being said, I believe this is a call and a reminder to the Nigerian Government and other Governments in Africa to embrace and invest in local and indigenous pharmaceutical companies.

If the Government, for example could create laws and policies that support these companies, we could be in a position to manufacture for our own pharmaceutical needs thereby reducing the burden of importation and overall cost of healthcare.

Essentially, we would become less reliant on foreign companies.

READ ALSO: Nigeria: Pfizer seeks collaboration in the fight against counterfeit medicines (

What would you say is the source of your motivation? Are you more motivated by people who believe in you or those who don’t?

Both the people who believe in me and those who don’t are all instrumental to my success. However, my motivational focus is largely on the value I want to leave in their lives.

So first, I would say my motivation is mainly derived from people, and the potential impact I can have on them.

Second is personal experiences.

So, I have this story of sexual harassment on my first day in pharmacy school.

And unfortunately, I have had several others before then, probably because I have always looked bigger than my age, who knows.

I would never desire to wear the victim tag.

Rather than letting these negative experiences be barriers to my success, these situations have acted as spring boards for me to really go after my dreams. They did not waver the fire in me to do well both in my personal and professional growth.

Thirdly, I am motivated by an inherent desire to fund and achieve my dreams.

Whatever they may be.

For instance, my phone was stolen in my first week of school and instead of sulking for months I decided to take matters in my own hands.

I started a business selling hair, shortly after I was able to buy a new phone. This gave me a huge sense of fulfillment and realization that I could actually fund my own dreams through creating value for others.

You refer to yourself as a ‘pharmapreneur’, could you elaborate?

(Laughs) It is simple I walk my path in many dimensions two of which are: as a pharmacist and as an entrepreneur.

 I am proud of both.

As a pharmacist, obviously my duty is to offer pharmaceutical care to my patients and enable them live healthier lives.

And as a business woman, selling my products or offering my services, my mindset is not just to make money, but to solve real problems and be impactful.

So, I combine both aspects because they come naturally to me.  Hence ‘pharmapreneur’. (Laughs)

It is not easy but I try to make everything work in sync.

You are a young pharmacist who seems to take on quite a bit. From over 80 certifications, volunteering in noble causes, associations and foundations, writing and also teaching. Why is that?

For getting the courses and certifications, I started while I was in school.

From an early age, I decided to do extra;

In my mind I always thought, everyone that comes to pharmacy school and at the end of the day, most often than not, leaves with a pharmacy degree.

So, what was that extra that I could get to distinguish me from the rest?

What are those things that would give me an advantage in the market?

What are those additional values that can make me a more well-rounded individual?

Because essentially, we are first human before we are pharmacists.

That is why I push myself to achieve as much as I can.

You are very active on social media referring to yourself as a pharmedian. Why is social media important to you and how has it opened doors of opportunity for you?

I am really intentional about personal and professional development. And social media is one of the key ways that I have been able to achieve this.

I believe this form of media is vitally important and personally, I take courses from time to time on how best to improve my social media visibility and also improve my content.

It is not just about sharing, but sharing value.

In terms of opportunities, I have always believed that if it was not documented, it did not happen. So, one of the easiest ways I document events, experiences, achievements, and everything I do is on social media. From that, I have been able to get professional opportunities.

In 2020 for example, I was selected for the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center (YALI RLC), West Africa cohort 15 Ghana largely through validation of the activities I had posted on Facebook.

LinkedIn is also a platform where I share a lot about the professional events happening in my life and with that, I have been able to get a number of job opportunities. I’ve gotten more than seven jobs on LinkedIn.

And funnily, I said, I have worked with a lot of organizations, over 50 in the past seven years. And for a lot of them we found each other on social media.

You recently published a book “And Pharmacy School Happened” what was the main drive behind telling your story (and those of other students)?

And Pharmacy School Happened’ is a book that was conceived from 2020 during the Covid 19 lockdown.

I had always wanted to share my story on how I was able to go through pharmacy school and do all the things I did because anyone who knows me and has followed my journey knows that I value consistency.

So, I wanted to share my story more like a guide to let pharmacy students and aspiring pharmacists know that these things are possible.

Pharm. Marvelene Ekott with her new book

For me, the mindset at the time of joining pharmacy school was that it was going to be a difficult journey. However, when I joined, I found a way, a system that enabled me to easily navigate.

With that, I wanted to share my story and that of my colleagues who graduated between 2015 and 2022 across pharmacy schools in Nigeria- which were 23 at the time.

One of the questions I asked was why they had chosen the course and whether indeed it was their first choice. You know for a lot of people; pharmacy is considered a second choice and some people generally end up taking the course because they were unsuccessful in their first option.

Then there are some people that were actually intentional about pharmacy from the very beginning and it also reflects in their story and in their journeys.

I asked them why they chose to study pharmacy, what kind of pharmacy students they were, how their journeys were. And if they were to go back to pharmacy school, what they would do differently.

And later, it was beyond just interviews, I decided to break down the book into the part that communicates to aspiring pharmacists, knowledge areas for secondary school students particularly on how to get it right, when seeking admission into the pharmacy course.

The second chapter talks about the first year in school, how to navigate re-sits, repeating carryovers and much more.

Then combining pharmacy with personal professional development and even your religious activities politics, because I did all of that.

And then I also give key recommendations for success.

The book is definitely a must read,

Where can it be bought from?

Amazon, Selar or  Directly by paying to 0265991719 GTB  Marvelene Ekott.

Knowing what you know now, would you still pursue a pharmacy career?

Of course, of course.

Over and over, even if I’m asked a thousand times, I would always say I want to be a pharmacist.

I love being a pharmacist and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

You know, the way I went through pharmacy school, one of the reasons too, that inspired me to do a lot, to do extra, to go out of my way and have a fulfilling pharmacy journey was the fact that I always used to tell myself that I was only going to go through pharmacy school once and it was important I made the most out of it.

 I have no regrets whatsoever about pharmacy or my pharmacy school experience.

Any future plans or goals yet to be accomplished?

I have quite a lot of dreams and the goal is to keep inspiring, reaching out to millions and even billions of people all over the world, spreading the great message of pharmacy and letting people know that there can be more.

And there’s also the pharmacy school tour that I am on.

My team and I are touring around pharmacy schools in Nigeria and also secondary schools to let young people make the right decisions about pharmacy because people need to know the truth about pharmacists.

You can be a pharmacist and you can also be anything else.

There’s a lot in my plans at a professional and personal level, some of which I might not like to share for now, but I am excited about the future.

The plan is to keep pushing, not stopping for any reason, and be an example to other pharmacists that they should not give up, and that it’s actually possible

You know someone once said that pharmacy is a profession where people just sit down and count drugs. That it is a profession that people fall into when they cannot get some other profession right.

I want to redefine this narrative.

I know you are still young but what would you want your legacy to be?

That Marvelene was a person who created value for others.

My goal is to leave a part of the value God has blessed me with in people and help their lives to be better. 

How do Nigerian pharmacists typically mark World Pharmacists Day?

Normally, we carry out a wide range of activities ranging from health outreaches to radio and television sensitization programs, symposia and of course webinars.

The goal is just to let the world know about the beauty of the pharmacy profession and the amazing work pharmacists are doing in Nigeria.

In the upcoming WPD we will join our voices with the rest of the world to celebrate the role of the pharmacist

A quote that you live by?

Everyday is a chance to get it right.

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Bevin Likuyani is a Pharmacist with a MPharm (Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmacovigilance) and MBA (Strategic Management) from School of Business, University of Nairobi). He is a Certified Supply Chain Pharmacist. (American Association of Supply Chain Management) and content writer on pharmaceutical related topics. Email:

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