CPOs and project leaders - Project management training in Tanzania and Senegal: A new Sub-Saharan initiative

by Richard Aiello, Ambrosio Barros and Martin Raine

Excellence in project management translates into remarkable project results and impact on the ground, that is why project management skills can make the difference . A total of approximately 60 WCA and ESA CPOs and Project Directors have attended a first training workshop in Tanzania/Arusha in October 2012 (only Anglophone participants) followed by one on-going one in Senegal/Dakar (with Anglophone and Francophone participants).

The two events focused on enhancing project management skills from a people management (e.g., leadership styles, receiving and giving feedback, coaching) and a technical (e.g., project strategy, sustainability, logframe, M&E/RIMS, Annual Work Plan and Budget) point of view.

At the end of the follow up workshop in Dakar, the Anglophone participants welcomed the Francophone cohort sharing with colleagues their experiences and their enthusiasm.

This is a new learning initiative that is in line with good and most recent training practices. The first group of CPOs and Project Directors have had the opportunity to experiment their learning after the session in October in Arusha. In May 2013, they came back together in Dakar. On this occasion they shared their experiences, their challenges and how they went about overcoming these. This was a great example of putting what they learnt to practice, thus ensuring that the learning, “sticks” and does not “wash away” shortly after the training.

In addition to enhancing project management skills, the participants expanded their network and shared experiences across borders. And the good news is that once back in their respective countries, they are continuing to network and exchange with each other and  IFAD-funded projects.

This is a WCA/ESA/HRD partnership, (Luyaku Nsimpasi, Sylvie Marzin, Geoffrey Livingstone, Miriam Okong’o, Martin Raine, Ambrosio Barros, Federica Iachetti, Dounamba Konare, Michael Isaack, Rahel Getachew, Gabriella Quintavalla, Richard Aiello), where once again we have all experienced how working across divisions is needed, useful, motivating and fun !!! We have truly enjoyed it, we feel we have reinforced our understanding of the challenges faced at country level and also built a stronger partnership with new and old colleagues from our Country Offices.

Finally we would also like to share some of the comments from participants:

Luyaku Nsimpasi (IFAD Representative and Country Director Senegal) said “ I was very impressed by the frankness and openness of the project coordinators and CPOs in sharing experiences with their peers. This openness has surely highly contributed to the success when discussing experiences in leadership, planning and implementation.

Mwatima Juma (CPO Tanzania) said “this has been my first exposure with a training that included follow up. I believe that this format has made the training more effective and practical and I will be able to apply better what I learned since during the follow up I have had the chance to ground the learning experience and expand it. I have also made connections with new colleagues with whom I believe I have created a special link also thanks to the content of the training that has provided us with several opportunities to experience a different kind of conversation that while exploring real issues has worked intensively on our emotions”.

Irene Jumbo-Ibeakuzie (Programme Manager Nigeria) said “it has been a grand experience for us. Some of the things we thought we were doing right needed to be readdressed. During the two sessions I have further appreciated the importance of the full participation of the programme coordination in the process of the development of the Annual Work Plan & Budget to ensure proper guidance. I have also appreciated better what effective team work is really about, and how important it is to coach staff to improve productivity and results".

Dick Siame(CPO Zambia) said “From my point of view this training is helping project leaders open up and address potential issues with staff. As a CPO it empowers me to navigate more effectively on projects and with project managers strengthening  my ability to represent a clear reference for planning purposes. I also found particularly useful enhancing my understanding of how different people react to situations and learn how to respond to their reactions guiding them towards the required goals. I felt inspiring that as a group we jointly came up with…. a manager has to find a way to work in the same way with all members of the team without being distant from any member, this is not always easy but we need to make sure it happens".