It is my pleasure to announce that I will be standing for the role of National Director of Medsin at our upcoming general assembly. For those of you who don’t know, Medsin is the UK’s global health student network, with more than 5000 members across the country who work to improve health equity through education, advocacy and community action. You can read much more about Medsin at www.medsin.org.
I’ve been involved with Medsin for more than 3 years now, so it would be a real honour to lead the network over the next year. Below you can read my statement of motivation, and a structured interview that the current Director Jonny Meldrum, conducted as part of the application process.
Statement of motivation
My global health experience began 4 years ago in South Africa, where I volunteered in a HIV/TB hospital for 6 months. Since then I have campaigned on a range of issues, attended many global health conferences, achieved a bachelors degree in infectious disease and epidemiology from Cambridge, coordinated clinical trials in Geneva and Vietnam for new TB diagnostics, and found work as a part-time consultant for a Geneva-based non-profit.The thread that has run through all of this has been working with Medsin. First as Cambridge Campaigns Officer, through to Regional Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, Regional Coordinator, and then this year as Director of Branch Affairs. I’ve also been involved in the work of our activities, Stop AIDS and UAEM. This equipped me with the skills, experience and knowledge to confidently advocate for global health issues in a variety of fora, including at the BMA’s annual meeting and to the Department of Health. I have attended IFMSA meetings, advocated for global health education at my previous medical school and been heavily involved with campaigns, especially the NHS campaign.
In other words, I’ve experienced as much of the breadth of work that Medsin does as anyone can in 4 years of university.This year, I’ve strengthened the relationship between the National Committee and our branches. I have clarified the role of Regional Coordinators, improved the coordination of branches through a basic monitoring and evaluation framework, and worked with the rest of the National Committee to bring you our two themes.There is still a lot I want to do before my term ends in September. The National Director has two key roles. Firstly, as a coordinator of the network, managing and supporting the national committee. The diverse experience that the network has given me, in particular that coordinating regional coordinators and branches, has prepared me well for this task.
Secondly, the National Director represents the network, creating and strengthening links with key external organisations and partners to better impact on global health through collaborative advocacy and by securing support for the network. Networking is one of my strengths. I’m never happier than when I have a business card in hand.
I don’t want to lay out a plan of action for next year, because I strongly believe that this should be led by the network and our newly elected National Committee. However, there are some issues that need to be addressed. We need to continue our shift in focus towards our membership, concentrating on equipping our members with skills, knowledge and resources. Better systems need to be in place to ensure that the National Committee has a high impact, but without sacrificing individuals’ academic, financial and personal lives. Finally, our governance needs to mature, with an overhaul of our bylaws, better utilisation of the Trustees and more accountability to our voting members.
I am a dedicated advocate for health equity and I passionately believe in the work Medsin does. It would be an honour to lead the network next year.
What are the most important skills you will you bring to the role?
I see the role of National Director as having two main priorities. The first as the external face of the network and providing leadership within the network and secondly managing the National Committee and our interaction with NWGs and Activities.For the first part of the role, over the past few years I’ve gained a lot of experience in leadership at every level of Medsin (local, regional, and national). I really enjoy representing the network, attending events and seeing opportunities.In terms of the internal coordination of the network at each of these levels I’ve coordinated people at every level, as well outside of the network in roles such as cadets. I’m used to managing people and coordinating people at a distance and I enjoy being part of a team.The other main body of experience is governance and this is something I’ve been very involved in throughout my time in Medsin and made a big effort whilst on the National Committee this past year.
If you could achieve one thing in the role what would it be?
I think it’s really important for us as a network to have a stock take, evaluate where we are and where we want to be, and strengthen the sustainably built into the network. That’s broad but the key thing is sustainability and impact, ensuring the National Committee support this in each part of the network. In the past we have overstretched and I think it’s essential to ensure we have the people, the skills and the process to do what we need to need and make sure it carries on.
Could you give an example of working with a team and working independently and one principle you’ve learnt from each?
Lots of examples working in a team. Worked in the National Committee and from this experience the key experience I’ve had is the need for finding shared projects and common ground, when there’s a disagreement a compromise, finding the areas each member of the team is passionate about and their skills contribute towards.
In terms of individual work I currently work as a social media consultant for an NGO. This has taught me the importance of having a routine – you have to be disciplined when you’re working alone and the main person holding you to account is yourself. You need to stick to your time and prioritise well.
When have you come up with an innovative solution to a problem you have faced?
Lots of the small things I do day-to-day. Innovative to me is finding a solution to a problem, and I do think of myself as a problem solver. I’d say I’m very technically savvy so it’s very easy to find technological solutions to things. In my work this year as Director for Branch Affairs I’ve been reactive with my communication strategy, I found certain communication methods ineffective so I innovated, found personalised communication much more effective and used technological tools to support that so increased efficacy of the my work was not coupled with an increased burden of work.
How have you dealt with difficulties managing your time?
Again, I had a technocratic solution for this. I manage my time using an online calendar and various task lists. I try to compartmentalise so I only spend a specific amount of time on specific tasks so you’re not swallowed up on one thing, such as emails. It comes down to prioritisation and timescales.
What the three most important attributes of a leader?
The most important attribute as far as I’m concerned is understanding the people you’re trying to lead, what they want from you and what they want from the organisation. Tied closely to this is to be accountable on a day-to-day basis, especially in a grassroots network such as Medsin. If I get this role I will give many updates on what I’m doing, write blogs and have dedicated time that I can be approached and chat with by anyone in the network. The third trait is taking the vision that has been generated from understanding the network and its members and being able to effectively manage the change required so that we as an organisation can meet our vision and that comes down to effective use of planning, management and setting good examples.