Tania Zulu Holt, a health economist, always knew she wanted to return to Africa and work to develop the continent.

The opportunity presented itself in 2010. By then, she’d graduated with a BSc in economics from Copenhagen University and an MSc in health economics from the London School of Economics. After two years as a researcher at McKinsey’s London office, she relocated to Johannesburg to focus her work on emerging African markets.

Last year, Holt, 31, was elected partner at the global management consulting firm. She now leads McKinsey’s healthcare activities across Africa. This involves engaging governments, private and social stakeholders on strategies for improving healthcare in countries such as Nigeria and Kenya.

Holt emphasises that her passion for her work is the bedrock of her success. “When I work towards reducing maternal mortality or the spread of preventable diseases, I hope that some part of my work helps my people to build good lives for themselves and their children.”

Find Holt on Twitter: @taniazuluholt