On Thursday January 26, right after the successful Faraday Discussion Conference in Capetown, the South African Center of Excellence c*change and Syngaschem BV hosted a scientific leadership course at the University of Capetown for about 45 participants. In a session of 3.5 hours, Graham Hutchings, Jan-Karel Felderhof and Hans Niemantsverdriet spoke about the essentials of leading an academic research group.

Graham presented several examples of famous scientists, and discussed whether they could be qualified as successful leaders. He gave good advice from his own experience on how it is sometimes necessary to educate your boss, and to ensure that you reserve enough time to generate ideas and funds for research: Time, Money and Great Ideas are among the most essential ingredients for success in academia.

Jan Karel shared his insights in how people successfully develop from newcomers to well-established self-leaders, and may then grow to true mentors for others. Belonging to the team, and feeling accepted and appreciated are crucial requirements for the motivation of novices and establishing self confidence.

Hans introduced several concepts on management and leadership, and on how to supervise team members. Getting experienced is a process that resembles catalysis – after every hurdle taken successfully, and every challenge conquered, one feels more secure and hence more fit towards leadership.

Photo on the left shows (from left to right) Hans Niemantsverdriet, Director of c*change Michael Claeys, Graham Hutchings and Jan Karel Felderhof after the Scientific Leadership Course at the University of Capetown, January 26, 2017. Photo on the right shows participants of the Leadership Workshop at the University of Capetown, Friday January 27, 2017

On Friday, January 27, Jan Karel and Hans led a day-long workshop with 18 participants, mostly from c*change. This was a very animated day full of discussions, in which the participants made a personal plan for their future in academia, while some of the seniors concentrated on the strategy of their research groups or even their departments.

We were very happy about the open atmosphere and the intense discussions that took place during both days.

Published on: February 21, 2017