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MAVA Inter-generational leadership development experience


A real game-changer

In April 2018, the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy opportunity was presented to us, as partner organisation by virtue of our relationship with Peace Parks Foundation.

This meant we had the opportunity to select a ‘junior-senior’ inter-generational ‘duo’ on which the leadership development programme is based. It brings together two generations of leaders – senior and young professionals from partner organizations of the MAVA Foundation.

Clive Poultney, who is contracted to the College for Business Development and I, the Project Leader: for the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit were recommended to apply together. This followed an internal process where potential duo’s were able to apply for selection. Much to our excitement, from a list of 400 applicants, we were called in for rigorous skype interviews, and a week later were informed that we had made the final 15 pairs selected from around the world to take part this development programme!  

This news was received with both eagerness and some trepidation because, as with most things that challenge a different aspect of oneself, this opportunity outside of the norm.  In June-early July we began with our online modules and from 9 – 12 July we attended our first contact session in the Middle-East in Amman, the capital of Jordan. During the programme, we received training in ‘leading beyond authority’ and ‘mentoring’, the two main focal areas of our training.   

The key to our training was in the speeches, and engagements with many exemplary and courageous young and senior leaders taking part. Given the political and social climate in the Middle East, these speakers really embodied the power and conviction of the human spirit. It was equally interesting to see how Africa’s and South Africa’s conservation and community practices in particular, have largely inspired the way in which protected areas in Jordan are administered and managed.  

The programme was particularly effective in getting participants to be ‘present’ and to ‘connect’ for the four days. This  greatly enriched the interactions and set the scene for the pairing of mentees (young professionals) and mentors (senior professionals) who will now work together over the next 12 months. Coincidentally, both myself and Clive have been partnered with participants from Switzerland.  

During out time in Amman, we of course also had the opportunity to explore a bit of the country and its diverse cultures… The depth of our human cultural, architectural, artisanal, and religious history runs deep in lands of Jordan. Definitely a cultural tourism destination I would recommend.  

The experience, which I found to be extremely beneficial,  wasn’t only about us learning from the Common Purpose programme, or being supported by the “Mowgli” mentoring team. A large component of our training was also in shared experiences and design for our way forward as we go back to our individual organisations. We have returned feeling motivated and inspired to unlock not only own individual potential, but also that of our teams whilst also making a positive contribution to our communities and conservation.  

Article supplied by Sboniso Phakati: Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit