The RAMP team in Haller Park (Talib is centre back wearing glasses)
My unforgettable experience: Research Administration Management Programme training in Kenya
13 July 2023
Talib Deen of ReBUILD’s Sierra Leone team talks about his recent experience of the three-day Research Administration Management Programme (RAMP) training programme in Mombasa, Kenya
With Principal Investigators spending approximately 42% of their time on administrative tasks, developing the skills of research and grant support teams is crucial for effective grant administration and management. The high administrative burden on researchers was highlighted at the 2019 Annual Consortium meeting of the NIHR-funded IMPALA Programme [opens new tab] and emphasized by the FCDO-funded LIGHT Consortium [opens new tab]. In response, a three-day workshop on Project Research Administration & Management was created by the two programmes and supported by ReBUILD for Resilience to enhance the capacity of research administrators, managers, and finance officers working on externally-funded research grants.
Recently, I had the privilege of participating in this exceptional training program on research administration and management programme (RAMP) in the vibrant city of Mombasa, Kenya. As a representative of the Institute for Development (IfD) in Sierra Leone, I joined 14 other participants from different organizations, and the immersive learning experience surpassed all expectations.
The training was an intensive and enlightening experience. Over the course of three days, we delved deep into the world of administration, project management, and finance under the guidance of expert trainers – Annmarie, Martina and Eunice. The sessions were thoughtfully structured, covering a wide range of topics that were relevant to our day-to-day activities and our long-term professional growth.
Day 1 kicked off with a focus on administration. After introductions and an ice breaker session, we explored efficient practices, effective communication strategies, and time management techniques that would streamline our day-to-day operations. The trainers (Annmarie with support from Martina) provide practical insights, sharing their experiences and guiding us towards becoming more effective and organized administrators. By the end of day 1, I had gained valuable insights on effective file organization techniques, particularly in terms of maintaining versions and establishing a clear hierarchy. This knowledge has been instrumental in streamlining my workflow and ensuring easy access to relevant documents. Additionally, I acquired essential skills in calendar management for scheduling and organizing meetings, allowing for better coordination and efficient time utilization. Furthermore, I learned the art of taking concise and informative meeting reports, enabling me to capture key discussions and action points accurately. These newfound skills have greatly enhanced my productivity and organization, empowering me to work more efficiently.
In the evening, we enjoyed a delightful cultural exchange, where each participant shared insights about their respective countries, including a brief history and traditional dance performances. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from and appreciate the diverse cultures represented in our group.
On Day 2 of the workshop, we dived into the realm of project management, guided by the expertise of Martina. Through interactive sessions and practical exercises, we delved into the essential aspects of planning, executing, and successfully delivering projects. One of the highlights was acquiring valuable techniques for effective risk management and and fostering collaborative teamwork. These skills have equipped me with the confidence to navigate complex projects. Furthermore, I fulfilled a personal goal of gaining proficiency in designing work plans and Gantt charts, which were previously unfamiliar territory for me. This newfound knowledge has empowered me to tackle project management challenges with a structured approach, enhancing my ability to create comprehensive and visually engaging project plans.
Day 3 was dedicated to finance, a subject that can sometimes feel intimidating to me. However, under the guidance of our knowledgeable trainer, Eunice, the subject became accessible and even enjoyable. The session was conducted seamlessly via Microsoft Team, with Martina providing valuable support throughout. During this session, we explored financial principles, budgeting strategies, and forecasting techniques. Eunice skillfully explained complex concepts in a way that made them relatable and applicable to our everyday work. I found myself immersed in discussions on revenue generation, cost management, and the art of financial decision-making.
One aspect that particularly resonated with me was the significance of budgeting and its role in ensuring financial stability and success. I had always recognized the importance of budgets, but I lacked the confidence to create them myself. Through this training, I not only gained a thorough understanding of the budgeting process but also learned practical tips and tricks for developing accurate and effective budgets. It was a moment of realization, as I discovered that the very skills I had planned to learn in the future were being imparted to me in the present.
The training also expanded my financial vocabulary, equipping me with a deeper understanding of terms and concepts that were previously unfamiliar. With this newfound knowledge, I felt empowered to engage in financial discussions, contribute to budgeting exercises, and make informed decisions that would drive growth and success in my field.
At the end of the training, certificates of completion were given to all participants, serving as tangible evidence of our dedication and commitment to professional development.
After three intense and rewarding days of training, we were treated to a day of sightseeing in the enchanting city of Mombasa – a chance for us to relax, unwind, and immerse ourselves in the rich cultural tapestry. We explored the historic Fort Jesus, marvelled at the stunning beaches, and roamed through bustling markets that showcased the vibrant local life. We indulged in delicious traditional cuisine at the beach, engaged in meaningful conversations, and gained a deeper appreciation for Mombasa’s rich cultural heritage. We also visited the Haller Park but was unable to see the animals as we arrived there when there feeding time has passed.
Participating in this training program was an experience I will treasure forever and has been a transformative experience. The knowledge, skills, and connections I gained during those intensive days has already begun to positively impact on my professional life. I am planning to share this knowledge with the staff of IfD and am willing to be a trainer in any future trainings.
The day of sightseeing was the perfect way to wrap up this transformative journey. It allowed us to immerse ourselves in the beauty and diversity of Mombasa, forging memories that will last a lifetime. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the trainers, organizers, and fellow participants for creating an environment conducive to learning and fostering a sense of community.