Leadership development is critical in advancing the environmental sector. That is the message that GreenMatter, the WRC and DSI focused on as they hosted the WRC Water Fellowship Insights event.
This event took place on Wednesday, 16th of March on Zoom, to celebrate the completion of its third cohort of postgraduate Fellows. The Fellowship Programme is an innovative partnership of GreenMatter, the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Affairs (DFFE). It aims to strengthen technical and social competencies, develop skills, provide a comprehensive career path, and connect the emerging leaders to a network of peers, mentors, and role models at sectoral levels.
Dr Roderick Juba, a former GreenMatter Fellow, facilitated the event. Buyani Zwane, the GreenMatter Board Chairperson, provided an insightful presentation highlighting the role of leadership development in the South African Water Sector. Shanna Nienabar, the WRC Water Research, Development & Innovation Roadmap Programme Manager, and Dr Henry Roman, DSI Director: Environmental Services and Technology, both gave knowledgeable and inspiring presentations about what the water sector needs from its postgraduate students. Following that was a panel discussion in which four graduating Fellows, Slyvester Malekeng, Lohan Brendenhann, Kopano Moekwena, and Mendy Ndlovu provided frank assessments and reflections, giving us a sense of where we have performed well and how we might improve in the future. The GreenMatter Acting Director of Programmes, Duncan Hay, provided a warm closing and thanks. This was then followed by the graduation ceremony for the graduating fellows led by Moshadi Mashangoane.
This event was a very enjoyable and insightful experience. To highlight five important lessons that emerged.
1. Make Excellence a Standard
Buyani Zwane highlighted that we must make excellence and winning a standard! He stated that we are too often told that is it okay to be just above average. However, in a situation where you are undergoing a serious medical procedure, you would not want a doctor who is just above average. When you are boarding an aeroplane, you would not want pilots that are just above average. They do not fly an aeroplane into the sky unless they can perform excellently. Therefore, in our leadership development programme as GreenMatter, we seek to bring through the habit of excellence within our fellows! Click here to access Buyani Zwane’s slides.
2. Skills Demand in the Water Sector
Shanna Nienaber from the Water Research Commission presented very insightful slides of the types of skills that industry is seeking within the water sector! The skills that she listed are in three groups:
You may find these slides by clicking here.
3. You are a Project Manager of yourself
Have you ever heard the saying that life is a Do-It-Yourself project? These are the sentiments that Dr Henry Roman, expressed during a personal reflection.
“When you do a Master’s or a Ph.D. you are a project manager, albeit of yourself”
You learn the skills of managing your time and managing your resources, you learn to understand the type of study you are doing and how to go about it.
4. Leadership is Influence
“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”
- John Maxwell (author of The Law of Influence)
Buyani Zwane expressed very important sentiments regarding influence. Leadership development is about how we influence people inside and outside of the environmental sector, to see the value that this sector provides. We can have a positive or negative influence in this regard; however, it is important to ensure that we have a positive influence. This is the reason we seek to attract to the sector, true winners!
5. The Impact of the GreenMatter Fellowship
The panel discussion involving past GreenMatter fellows was very insightful, and it highlighted the impact that this fellowship provides its beneficiaries. Kopano Moekwena stated that the GreenMatter fellowship really helped her to strive. She was able to apply project management skills, induce group work ethic and she was able to use her knowledge and skills to make a difference. Sylevester Malekeng was inspired by the soft skills training to reflect on “why are we doing what we are doing and why should we continue doing things the way we are now, and what changes do we need to make?” Mendy Ndlovu stated that she obtained various soft skills, and she has been building on them. Lohan Brendenhann highlighted emotional intelligence as a very important skill he learned within the fellowship. He stated that understanding this term and how to use it, it made him understand how to better manage interpersonal relationships between co-workers.
These are just a highlight of various lessons that were learned during this seminar. To watch the full event, click here (passcode: 1@Dj?RrN). If you attended the event, be sure to drop some comments and let us know what lessons you learned from this event!
Environmental Youth for the Future!