Dr Sarkaw Mohammad

As a six-year-old girl, Sark​aw Mohammad set her sights on being a university professor.

Given that at 30 years old she has numerous tertiary qualifications in chiropractic, medicine and healthcare displayed on her office wall, she's definitely on track.

Having grown up in Pakistan, Sarkaw moved to New Zealand as a child with her family. An eloquent, driven and highly intelligent woman, she now owns Hillcrest Spinal Centre – a significant achievement for the 30-year-old.

"Since a very young age, I've wanted to be a professor," she says. "So I'm staring my PhD in a couple of months."

She recalls "topping the school" academically as a child, motivated by the strong emphasis on competition and success in Pakistan.

"My dad gave me a medical kit as a kid, and in that society it's common to gain that sort of (professional) identity from a young age. From that age, I started looking at myself as a health professional," she says.

"Growing up, I had that pressure on me to become something – pressure that directed me on to the right path, and to critique myself in a way that did me good."

Twenty years on, the subsequent professional credentials make impressive reading:  Bachelor in Paramedicine and Emergency Management, Post-Graduate Certificate in Travel Medicine, Masters of Health Sciences, Bachelor of Chiropractic (resulting in her current practice and speciality), Post Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation, Post-Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation (Refugee and Migrant Health).

It took 11 years of hard graft to obtain those qualifications, and she also has three years study ahead to complete her PhD, which will be in Psychology (specialising in depression).

To achieve such significant academic success, she studied toward two qualifications at a time, and was constantly busy.

Asked what she gave up to complete her various qualifications, she initially offers a succinct one-word answer: "Life!"

"I did not have a social life," she recalls. "I gave up time I could've spent socialising with my friends, because I was locked up in my room studying.

"It was really hard – I don't ever remember having a day off until about three years ago when I started work at this clinic."

In a nice coincidence, she took over ownership of the clinic on her birthday last year – achieving an aim she had  set for herself years earlier.

A self-described "chronic planner", Sarkaw believes she's in sight of achieving her goal of becoming a university professor – preferably at Waikato University - before she turns 40.

"I've planned my life for the next 10 years, as well," she says. "I target things, I put that pressure on myself…If I have a goal, I work towards it, and if I don't have a goal, I get a bit lost."

As well as her strong academic and medical qualities, Sarkaw is also creative and focusses on those outlets on her days off. She sketches, paints and sings, and also acts as MC for selected events.

She can speak four different languages, runs a charitable trust (I AM HER Charitable Trust) producing short films on issues in New Zealand,  and sits on a number of community and medical group boards and committees (among them Chiropractic Board of New Zealand, Ethnic Business Network, South East Kirikiriroa Community Association Incorporated, Immigration Trust, and World Federation of Chiropractic Public Health Committee).

She is particularly fond of enjoying nature, undertaking regular bush walks around the North Island - she recently did the Tongariro Crossing.

No surprises, then, to discover the secret to her success: "Time management! And you have to sacrifice."​

Page reviewed: 26 Sep 2017 12:19pm