This is a guest blog by Joshua Azaki, a young professional from South Africa enrolled as a mentee in the 2020 RWSN Mentoring Programme.
I was introduced to RWSN by Professor Ulrike Rivett in March 2018 and I signed up to receive updates about the activities of the RWSN. In 2019, when I received the notification about the application for the 2020 mentoring programme, I applied immediately. I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about the water sector from experts, professionals and other participants. I was open to learning how they overcame the challenges of working in the water sector. I was glad to be among the successful applicants and privileged to be matched to Dr Vassiki Sanogo as my mentor. My mentor and I soon developed a working plan which included the time frame, the activities to carry out, the aim and objectives and our expectations from the mentoring programme.
The RSWN mentoring programme became one of the outstanding events for me in 2020. As a mentee, the programme was a journey of self-discovery and sharpening of my capabilities. My mentor was an astute, honest, relentless, and very resourceful person. He provided guidance and valuable inputs that will facilitate achieving my personal and professional goals as an upcoming researcher in the water sector. Table 1 summarises the activities we carried out during the mentoring programme. We met virtually nine times via Zoom and Microsoft Teams while keeping in touch through emails. We achieved our goals as spelt out from the beginning of the mentoring programme between March 2020 and December 2020.
|Meetings and activities||Aim|
|Networking||To expose the mentee on how to explore and exploit networking opportunities|
|Academic writing||To improve the writing skills of the mentee by exposing him to tips on writing to the academic community.|
|Brainstorming||To sharpen the critical reasoning and problem-solving skills of the mentee through analysing journal articles.|
|CV presentation||To help mentee explore the best ways to professionally present himself|
|Data analysis||To guide mentee towards choosing the appropriate ways of collecting data and conducting data analysis|
|Continuous learning||To discuss further on the webinars organised by RWSN|
|Thematic expertise||To expose mentee to potential work or research opportunities in the water sector|
|Time management and record-keeping||To improve mentee’s organisational skills through scheduling of meeting, taking of minutes of and keeping records of meetings|
Impact of the 2020 RWSN mentoring programme
The impacts of the mentoring programme are numerous, some are listed below:
- I learnt more about how to craft a credible research question through identifying gaps in the literature, generating smart and achievable research objectives, ways of conducting research (data collection and data analysis methods) as well as reporting my findings.
- I learnt how to select journals to publish in (which includes knowing the target audience of a journal, their writing and referencing style and the impact factor of the journal).
- I learnt what an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is and created one.
- My organisational, record keeping, and time management skills were sharpened.
The above-listed points were key to me, especially now that I am about to start my doctorate. The mentoring experience provided me with the opportunity to be better prepared to take on the task associated with pursuing my doctorate and future career.
The mentoring programme also helped me navigate the lockdown period that accompanied the COVID 19 pandemic with less stress because I was productively engaged throughout the period. I was exposed to useful resources during the RWSN webinars especially the webinar on WHO/UNICEF JMP methods for monitoring SDG targets for WASH in households.
My mentor was pleased and excited that we worked as a team to achieve all our goals.
In conclusion, the 2020 RWSN mentoring programme was very engaging, educative, interactive and well organised. We thank the organisers and sponsors of the programme for this platform.
About the mentee and his mentor
Joshua Azaki is a Christian, a husband and a postgraduate student with the iCOMMS research team at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research interests are broadly in Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), knowledge management in the water sector and the use of persuasive information campaign to encourage water-saving practices. He is about to start his doctorate at the time of writing this blog.
Dr Vassiki Sanogo is a well-organized and dependable professional, equipped with a positive, can-do attitude in leading and educating diverse levels of team member. Armed with expertise in applied economics, health economics, health/water policy, economic development, public policy, payer/clinical decision-makers, comparative study, cost-effective, budget impact, assess risk, quantitative methods, statistics, business analytics, machine learning, deep learning, visual text analytics, data project architect, forecasting, optimization, experimental and case studies, and data science. Equipped with exceptional ability in working and interacting with students and colleagues in a professional manner. Known for strong work ethic, complemented with unparalleled professionalism and proven ability to conceptualize new ideas as necessary. Articulate communicator, fluent in English, French, and Dioula. Technologies: SAS, SQL, STATA, R, Python, Cplex, Gurobi, Java, C++, TreeAge, Tableau, MATLAB.
About the RWSN Mentoring Programme
For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the mentoring programme in 2020.