We launched the Towards Leadership programme in 2019, commissioned by three networks through the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The programme has delivered three residential workshops and complementary online learning for 10 post-doctoral researchers from seven institutions across Africa.

Towards Leadership is directed at winning grant funding, empowering effective teams, collaborating internationally, influencing key stakeholders and building rewarding research careers.

Dr Geoffrey Omuse is assistant professor and consultant clinical pathologist at Aga Khan University Hospital in Kenya.

The Towards Leadership programme challenged me to crystalise technical research proposals into a focused, well-balanced message that appeals to a range of audiences. I regularly apply the skills I learned, including the use of strategic pauses when presenting, how to assume a confident power-pose and how to project my voice to ensure clarity. All of this significantly improved my ability to make impactful presentations.

Geoffrey feels he benefitted immensely from sessions on grant-writing.

'Watching videos of the mock interviews, I had no idea major funders scrutinised applications so rigorously. It taught me where I need to pull my socks up when preparing submissions, in order to be successful. The emphasis on having a personal development plan also really helped me take stock of how I’ve progressed over the years, and the steps I need to take to get me where I want to be. Often, we’re so focused on the day-to-day, we lose sight of the bigger picture.

'Thanks to AREF I’ve made new friends, challenged myself and been inspired by everyone involved in the programme. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of AREF, and look forward to contributing in a small way towards realising their vision.'