SASSCAL concluded its annual planning meeting, which was held at Midgard Country Estate, Okahandja, Namibia from 24 to 26 April 2019. The Regional Secretariat and all National Nodes participated. The planning meeting was preceded by a team building day on 24 April 2019, facilitated by Team Build Namibia. The team building saw staff members participating in various events that challenged their listening, brain storming, coordination, time management, planning, artistic abilities, innovativeness, as well as team work. SASSCAL staff exhibited boldness, courage and brought out their usual A team game to all the tasks.

Management Committee: Front Row: From left Dr Jörg Helmschrot – Director Science & Technology / Human Capacity Development; Dr Martin Mbewe – Programme Coordinator, Zambia; Mr Panduleni Hamukwaya – Programme Coordinator, Namibia, Dr Jane Olwoch – Executive Director; Mrs Chimbidzani Bratonozic – Acting Programme Coordinator, Botswana; Mr Chipilica Barbosa – Programme Coordinator, Angola; Mr Peter Shisani – National Director, South Africa and Mrs Chipo Chirefu-Toto – Director Administration and Finance

In order to start building an institutional culture, the team also discussed SASSCAL values. An artistic interpretation of the SASSCAL Values created and agreed upon by the team is in exhibition at the Regional Secretariat.

SASSCAL staff pause with their artistic impression of the newly created SASSCAL values

The team building exercise concluded with a drumming session where staff members were taken through different types of drumming from different African cultures.

The team building session flowed smoothly into the planning meeting that was hailed very successful. The two-day planning meeting provided an  opportune time to reflect on where we have come from as SASSCAL, successes, failures and learn from  them  towards a successful second phase.  In her opening remarks, Dr Jane Olwoch, SASSCAL Executive Director (ED) reiterated that the best kind of organisations are those where everyone works together cohesively. SASSCAL provides a conducive environment for staff, growth, productivity, contentment, creativity and innovation. Dr Olwoch reminded staff of the importance of continued full commitment to their responsibilities that continues to produce a high impact team. “Each member must devote to advancing the SASSCAL mandate and recognise that everyone’s effort matters, because every effort contributes to the whole”, she added.  In order to be more focused and successful, each staff member is also required to see clearly how her/his daily activities align with SASSCAL’s Vision, Mission and Strategic Objectives.

The SASSCAL team possesses a wide range of professional competencies and is thus fully equipped to meet a wide range of needs, expectations and challenges, to contribute to the region’s research agenda. This is especially important, considering the unique niche in which SASSCAL is nested. As a regional Science Service Centre, SASSCAL has a unique role for advocating and promoting science diplomacy across the region. “SASSCAL’s  role of providing decision makers with credible knowledge to inform policy requires the team and the organisation as a whole to continue to ensure its alignment to both the regional and international agendas and well as the SDG’s and requirements in the Paris Agreement”, emphasised Dr Olwoch. The ED also reminded staff members of the importance of open lines of communication to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the team.

SASSCAL team perfects their drumming skills

The planning meeting was held just before the launch of the SASSCAL II call, to focus attention on the objectives of the upcoming call and the implementation and attainment of the SASSCAL II strategy. Planning enables teams and organisations to achieve  efficiency and effectiveness in their operations. The team was thus reminded of the objectives of SASSCAL II which will guide their operation towards the realisation of SASSCAL’s Vision. The team reviewed its existing Operational Plan and ensured its alignment to the regional and international research agendas, as well as the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

The Planning meeting was concluded by an award ceremony  in appreciation of long serving staff members who celebrate four years of service. Tracy-lee Van Wyk, Elvi Aron, Charity Angula and Sylvia Thompson pictured below were honoured with these awards. Dr Olwoch also received a surprise staff award in appreciation of her leadership and dedication to SASSCAL.  In her closing,  SASSCAL’s Executive Director  commended the team on the work done to date and challenged them not only to continue to excel but to also continue working as a team.

Dr Jane Olwoch – Staff Appreciation Award for Leadership and dedication

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