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Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Vanessa Lynch

Vanessa Lynch - Executive Director of The DNA Project & Deputy Chair of National Forensic DNA Oversight & Ethics Board

Vanessa LynchHaving graduated from Law School at UCT in 1993 I pursued a legal career for the following ten years. In 2004, after the brutal murder of my father, I founded the NGO “The DNA Project” in an effort to alleviate crime in South Africa through the use of a National Forensic DNA Database. It thus became my mission to help establish infrastructures and laws in South Africa which would ensure that forensic DNA technology was used to its best advantage. To that end I have assisted with the drafting of the new DNA Act and have been commended for the contribution I have made to law reform in this regard.

I have driven the development of a specific career path in Forensic DNA both in science and law and was appointed by the Minister of Police as the Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board in January 2015, a position which I currently still hold.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

As Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board, I am currently overseeing the implementation of the DNA Act in SA and the growth of the National DNA Database - when I read about cases such as this one published just today, I am filled with hope that we have done a good thing! I am also involved with various University Master’s programs on Forensic DNA and the Law, as well as for Officers of the Court. I am about to start studying again too, which I hope will culminate in a PhD in Forensic Law and then - well, the sky’s the limit and I will probably have a complete career change!

What are you passionate about?

My health! Without our health we have nothing - look after yourself first and you can change the world thereafter! Neglect your health and that becomes a lot more difficult to achieve… the greatest wealth is actually your health!

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Several people at different times in my life have influenced me for different reasons… but ultimately my parents always led me to believe that there was nothing that I could not do - in particular my father - he detested the word ‘can’t’ - he always said to me - you can do it - but may you? Then see below tip… Don’t take No for an answer. Ever! ;)

What is your personal motto?

It changes, but right now I think I would say that I believe that one should think fiercely, care intensely and live vibrantly!

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

It’s all very well to follow your heart, but make sure you take your brain with you. Believe in yourself and your ideas, but be prepared to listen along the way, be flexible and willing to adapt where necessary - and have a strategy. Your ultimate goal is achievable but how you get there may not always be in the way you first believed was possible - but it is always possible…

What are your top 3 business tips?

1.Don’t take No for an answer. Ever!
2. Strive for excellence not perfection.
3. Leave your work behind when you get home and be present! You may think that by eating, breathing and being your work, that you will achieve more, but in reality, that approach will ultimately impoverish you - if you keep perspective as to what is really important in your life (and it’s not your work!) you will be far more effective when you do work.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

Tenacity. Self-belief.

Which book are you currently reading?  

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield (published in 1930) - it is absolutely hilarious!

Which book can you read over and over again?  

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery - a novel which teaches you that you can find genius in the most extraordinary places.

Your favourite daily affirmation:  

Be present!

Your favourite quote:  

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

What advise would you give your younger self?

I would listen more… (the quieter you become the more you hear!). 

Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey? 

DNA CSI - if you are curious as to what this means read more about it on our website. 

Contact Information:
Twitter: @DNADetective
Website: http://operation-dna-csi.weebly.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DNAProjectSA

E-Mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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