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Meet The Entrepreneur Who Has Overcome Her Mental Health Issues And Launched Her New Business Portal
Mental health issues do not discriminate.
They don’t care about age, gender or socio-economic status. High achievers
are high candidates for mental health issues, and sufferers can be
struggling beneath the surface, their problems hidden by their career accomplishments.
A 2018 study of 700,000 adults by researchers from the Institute of
Psychiatry, King's College London, with colleagues from the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, showed that those who scored top grades at
school were four times more likely to develop bipolar disorder than those
with average grades.
Amy-Renee Hovorka is a high achiever challenged by
schizoaffective disorder A with bipolar, a kind of schizophrenia and adult
ADHD. She is also the founder and CEO of procurement agency, Procurement Marketplace, with a history of
successful businesses behind her and, to the observer, an aspirational
Hovorka functions because she has worked hard to
learn how to deal with her illness. She also still takes antipsychotic and
antidepressant medication as well as a mild ADHD medication. And
Procurement Marketplace exists in no small part because she wants to change
how people see mental illness.
“Physical disabilities have role models and
survival stories, why aren’t there any mental disability survival stories?
It is mainly because of the stigma. Mental health challenges are seen as a
weakness but I feel it is time to change that. This start-up is a big deal
for me because it means that I trust myself again, that I believe in myself
again and willing to back myself,” she states.
Amy-Renee Hovorka’s career is the history of an
icon of successful women in business. She has managed a portfolio of
inventions towards commercialisation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for
economic growth, been the founding member of King Abdullah University of
Science and Technology, raised over AUD $1.5 million in seed and prototype
development funding for innovation projects managed without equity
commitments, restructured and renegotiated a AUD $1 Billion supply chain
contract, developed strategic sourcing plan to deliver AUD$100
million savings over three years and led strategic sourcing pilot program
for the NSW Government delivering AUD $12.4 million savings. As CEO and
Founder of Innovation-Firebug, she developed a methodology and platform to
value, advance and commercialise innovation that is globally scalable. She
has a degree in Manufacturing Management, an MBA, and is a certified member
of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).
Her career history conceals a long struggle with
her inner life. She had a prolonged psychotic episode for a year and a half
that ended in a psych ward in March 2018, “because I locked myself out of
my apartment which I hadn’t left for over a year,” she notes.
“Biological depression became my normal and I
struggled to do anything and everything. The psych ward doctors told my
family I would never work again although that information wasn’t shared
with me. It really is remarkable the physical manifestations that a mental
health problem takes on. It is like your body is trying to tell you there
is something wrong but doesn’t have the language to communicate so it does
it through pain and fear. Inexplicable and undefinable anxiety is
exhausting and frustrating. You have all your sensors go off that something
is wrong but you can’t rationally pinpoint the cause so you can’t talk
yourself out of it,” she adds.
Hovorka ended up on the disability support pension
but the desire to work still burned within her. She contacted the
disability employment agency, NOVA. “Eventually they found me a job working
with Zimmer Biomet. NOVA and Zimmer changed my life,” she recalls. She
began to believe it was possible to conquer mental health issues and began
learning to trust herself again. The support of her parents and godmother
were invaluable, she says, but then she fell in love. “Being loved and
feeling safe and knowing someone has your back allows you to grow, expand
and take risks,” she states.
The idea for Procurement Marketplace had been
percolating since Hovorka’s days at Innovation-Firebug. She finally had the
wherewithal to act on it. With her long history in procurement, she saw an
opportunity across the board of companies - small to medium companies that
don’t have a procurement function but want a better approach to the
industry and large companies that have a procurement department but
want to supplement their capabilities with some procurement product
support. It is in the process of raising $1m so that it can “hit the market
hard,” she states.
“My 'why' is I am innovation personified, I dream
big, think big and see the world operating differently, more structured,
fair and more beautiful,” she says. “We will do this by acting
globally, across all industries and sectors with an Interactive
Categorisation Engine. We’ve created a platform for procurement
services at the moment but it can do so much more. We are the Amazon
for procurement products.”
She adds, “Procurement Marketplace is a huge
achievement on my mental health journey. I have been able to shift anxiety
into creativity, mental expansion and the ability to trust what I think and
create again and take risks. I believe I can do that again.”