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By AWARD Mentor Austin Ngwira, Director of Agriculture for the Clinton Foundation in Malawi

AWARD goes deep and wide; it would be hard for any monitoring and evaluation system to measure its full impact. I use the tools that I have learned through AWARD as a mentor every day and everywhere—at work, at home, at church, and even on my farm. The concept that AWARD teaches its fellows and mentors of developing a  career development plan  is a game-changer: your thinking process changes completely and you discover that the future is empty without such a plan. I now appreciate why some brilliant people I have known have achieved very little in life, with nothing to write home about. Could it be that they didn’t focus?

Being an AWARD Mentor has given me a good platform from which to share my knowledge and experience with fellow scientists, most of whom I did not know prior to becoming a mentor. I am proud to see my first AWARD mentee, Caroline Kamanga, progressing rapidly on her career path, as a result of opportunities I passed on to her from my networks. She quickly found a job in Malawi after completing her master’s degree at the University of Nairobi. In turn, I’ve also become widely known in the region, resulting in increased recognition and respect from my employer.

My experience of mentoring two young women agricultural scientists has taught methe following principles :

  1. identify the the mentee’s immediate needs and priorities, and quickly help her address them.
  2. Identify opportunities and share them withthe fellow.
  3. Both mentor and mentee must adjust to each other and attain a balance while accommodating the differences that exist.
  4. The mentor is usually a senior officer at her/his workplace. Share your experience with colleagues/supervisors and manage work priorities.
  5. Integrity is foundational for sustaining the mentee’s confidence and trust.

Having gone through this experience once, I jumped at the chance of volunteering to mentor a second fellow, Nellie Titani Amosi. Here’s to even more learning.