Anka Chan, One of Young Women Scientists Behind Hempact (NDY)!
Anka is one of Hempact’s Co-Founders and is the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Her background in Neuroscience and four years of lab experience, ranging from prototyping to polymer formation, equip her with the scientific rigour needed to improve product design.
Just reading this Bio of Anka as a young scientist makes me to know more about her and her journey.
Anka, welcome to our blog, Purse with Purpose, let us know more about yourself, how did you and your team come up with Hempact?
Thank you for having me! I’m the co-founder and CTO of Hempact, though we’re in the process of rebranding to NDY – Not Done Yet. Our goal is to create biodegradable menstrual pads using hemp, because hemp is more eco-friendly than the cotton typically used in menstrual pads. The idea originated from an innovation competition where students were asked to find a way to utilize industrial hemp stalk, then taken on as a project under Enactus University of Alberta, where I became part of the team in early 2018.
What kind of discipline and habits have you earned or practiced during your journey?
Some of the most recent habits I’ve started to adopt surround my physical health, because I realize how much it impacts my productivity and mental state. Pretty basic, but maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, exercising regularly, and starting my day with prayer and reflection, all help me stay focused.
Have you had a mentor or role model along the way?
It’s impossible to name just one person! I’ve been grateful to have many mentors throughout my journey who have diverse backgrounds and expertise, so I refer to different people for different things.
Have you ever experienced any set back in your life that you took advantage of it and changed it to strength?
When I first joined Hempact, there were five team members working on developing the product. Shortly after, all the team members left - either because they had graduated or to pursue other opportunities. After several months of experiments that failed to yield meaningful results, I had a tough time believing our idea of making an eco-friendly menstrual pad would actually be feasible.
But I recruited a new team and found a renewed sense of purpose in our main goal - to reduce menstrual waste and the stigma surrounding menstruation. This passion was propelled further by new developments with a bioplastic suitable for our product. I have since learned that even though some setbacks may be unavoidable, they can be taken as moments in which I choose whether to keep persevering or give up. To me, giving up is the only failure that is unacceptable and I am hopeful for the future that lies ahead of NDY – Not Done Yet.
With COVID-19, how did you stay flexible and focused on your goals?
To help us focus, my co-founder and I have daily check-ins where we assess what needs to be done for the day. Thankfully, we’ve been able to continue to move forward with our company goals and actually finished a trial with a manufacturer in August!
As a woman on the go, how do you balance your work, being a student and life?
I stay organized by putting everything on my Google calendar and reviewing my to-do list everyday. Balance to me means making sure I finish everything that needs to be done, but also destress by scheduling walks and chats with friends regularly.
At the end, how many items are you carrying in your bag? Is an organized bag help you to carry less items but be more efficient from morning to evening?
I usually keep the following items in my bag: lip balm, wallet, keys, hand sanitizer, a face mask, a spare menstrual pad, and tissue. Having an organized bag with definitely helps me keep stay focused on getting things done rather than worrying about finding things in my bag.
In our conversation, I asked you if there is a way to make a leather from hemp? Would you think, is this possible?
It’s such an interesting idea! Hemp has been used for so many things, from paint to building materials. I definitely see a possibility for hemp to be used in a composite material similar to leather.
Please share with our audience where can they find more about your research!
Thanks for your time and sharing your life story with Pensatta Community.