Outside the biomedical box of integrated care research. Meet some of our new RESPOND-AFRICA staff
The RESPOND-AFRICA consortium is made up of a range of diverse professionals from Europe and Africa. They are working on several different projects all aimed at improving health outcomes for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and HIV in Africa. They are experts in unique activities that range from infectious disease care, non-communicable diseases care, project management, implementation, social science, or health economics. Have you ever wondered what it takes to be involved in a large global health program including multi-country randomised control trials? We have interviewed some of our new RESPOND-AFRICA members who are both on the ground and behind the scenes to give you an idea. Follow along in our series documenting some of our RESPOND-AFRICA consortium members!
Interviewee name: Hazel Snell
Role in RESPOND-AFRICA: Senior Programme Manager
Projects involved within RESPOND-AFRICA: She works across the full portfolio of projects within RESPOND-AFRICA
Where they are based: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Past role/job: Programme / Operations management
How has your journey helped you lead to this point in your career?
Since leaving university I have worked in partnerships and have always been passionate about regeneration. Originally from Northern Ireland, my first job was in cross-community relations, building partnerships across religious divides and advocating for regeneration initiatives in areas of deprivation. I’ve worked across the public, private and voluntary sectors but the core of my work has always been delivery through collaboration. My MBA gave me advanced management skills, business acumen and the confidence to take my career to the next level. I’m a generalist and love a wide variety of work: human resources, finance management, communications, logistics, operations and strategic planning.
To continue to grow we need a sustainable funding mix so I will continue to work with the PIs on proposals and ensure we are seen by funders
How did you initially get involved in research?
I’ve been working in international health research since joining LSTM in the area of maternal and newborn health. I only joined LSTM on a 9-month contract but have ended up staying more than 10 years! Throughout my career, my role has always been about providing the supporting infrastructure, whether supporting Chief Executives and politicians in regeneration programmes or supporting researchers to deliver high-quality research.
What areas of HIV and NCD research and/or project management do you think are being neglected?
More institutional capacity strengthening is needed in programme and contract management so that African researchers can continue to thrive and deliver high-quality research. The ability to manage projects, finances, contracts and communicate the work all needs further investment – there are fantastic examples of what has been done already in Tanzania and Uganda, but more is needed.
What do you hope to do in your role and as a member of the RESPOND-AFRICA consortium?
I started my role with RESPOND-AFRICA three years ago by introducing systems and processes for the partnership around financial and research contract management. I want to continue to support the strategic development of the partnership as a leading centre for NCD research – the “go-to” for funders, Ministries of Health, advocacy networks and community organisations for high-quality, relevant research. I also hope to promote the work of the academics/researchers within the partnership, especially those at the mid-level who are the future leaders in this area. To continue to grow we need a sustainable funding mix so I will continue to work with the PIs on proposals and ensure we are seen by funders as a credible and high performing multi-disciplinary team with core strengths in managing and delivering excellent research to time and to budget. Finally, liaison with funders and external partners so they know about our work and celebrate the successes of the partnership.
I only joined LSTM on a 9-month contract but have ended up staying more than 10 years!
Besides research and randomised control trials, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy being busy and with two teenagers I spend a lot of time being a taxi driver! I play tennis and am learning golf. Most of my time is taken up as Chairperson of a large charity in Liverpool – we work with local communities on a range of projects including homelessness, domestic violence, bullying and health and social care. I’ve recently led a governance review of the Board to improve its diversity and overseen a major restructure of the senior management team for improved efficiency and impact.