On 24 October 2022, the H3D Foundation and CP+ Associates co-hosted a scientific leadership workshop for the mentees and mentors participating in the Global Health Mentorship programme. 

This programme provides structure and support for formal mentorship between industry experts and emerging drug discovery scientists on the African continent. 

The current cohort of mentees includes 14 H3D emerging researchers and 13 emerging researchers from the Grand Challenges Africa Drug Discovery network, spanning 11 research institutions and 7 countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria).

Over a 12-month period, mentors and mentees participate in an on-boarding and introductory session before going through a mentor-mentee matching process and formally commencing individual (confidential) mentoring sessions. 

The program management team provided the participants with tools, resources and overall oversight and guidance.

Intervention themes

While respecting confidentiality of the mentor-mentee interactions, they were guided towards intervention themes tailored to the needs of their organisations and their staff, as well as the mentees themselves. 

This comprised: 

1) the scientific process; 

2) scientific communication; 

3) personal interactions; 

4) career progression; and 

5) scientific responsibility. 

These structured themes allowed participants to tailor their specific mentoring needs and also enabled evaluation of the program’s contribution towards the development of strategic scientific leaders.  

The workshop formed part of the H3D Symposium that took place at the beautiful Webersburg Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Objectives of the workshop:

As part of the programme, we hosted an in-person scientific leadership workshop, which included 25 of the mentees and 3 of the mentors.

The workshop objectives were as follows:

  • Explore leadership principles including self-awareness, leadership styles and particularities of managing scientific teams
  • Share adoptable practices and lessons learnt from peers involved with the mentorship program
  • Network, identify collaborating partners, build relationships for an enduring support system

The closing session of the workshop showcased several mentee-mentor partnerships and highlighted their approach to the relationship with a view to sharing best practices. 

Fostering connection

In addition to the tangible outcomes, such as joint publications, research collaborations, technology transfers and formal tutoring on scientific topics, it was heart-warming to see the real bond and connection that has formed between the mentees and their mentors since the start of the program in Feb 2022. 

Feedback from the workshop participants was encouraging:

“It was a great opportunity to get insight on how other mentor-mentee relationships are working, and how one could gain more for their own relationship. It was a welcoming environment that allowed people the space to speak up and interact with each other in a constructive manner.”

“Even though I am a strong introvert, I really enjoyed the interaction with other mentees and mentors. The calm, “easy” atmosphere created, also prompted participation and an opportunity for introspection.”

“The busy day, although tiring, was also exhilarating! There was a good balance between learning new concepts and reflecting on one’s own/others’ experiences.”

Closing comments from one of the mentors attending the workshop “the future of drug discovery in Africa is bright”