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Unpacking vital mentor-mentee dynamics in postdoctoral research

In a move to discuss concerns and suggest alternative approaches to optimise the postdoctoral research experience at South African research institutions, Unisa recently hosted the three-day National Postdoctoral Fellowship Forum. Unisa’s hosting of the event emphasised the university’s support of its postdoctoral fellows by creating an enabling environment for research.


Executive Human Resources Consultant and Organisational Psychologist

The event marked a significant shift as it was previously hosted exclusively by Stellenbosch University. The three-day programme addressed critical issues faced by postdoctoral fellows, office administrators, funders, and service providers within South African research institutions.

During a plenary session on 05 July, Amanda Glaeser, Executive Human Resources Consultant and Organisational Psychologist registered with the HPCSA, highlighted the critical importance of effective mentor-mentee relationships. She discussed the value of consistent engagement, role clarity, and the alignment of expectations in mentoring.

“As South African universities continue to evolve, the emphasis on formal and informal learning, generational understanding, and the development of positive mindsets and leadership qualities will be key to nurturing the next generation of researchers,” she said. “Engaging with one another is proving to be an effective developmental action and identity-discovering process by focusing on one’s life, history and purpose. The provision of advice helps create networks and understand the brand or culture of the workplace and environment.”

Glaeser underscored role clarity for mentors, the necessity of aligning expectations between mentors and mentees, and the chemistry required for successful collaborations. She also touched on the mentor's mindset for engagement and the reflective learning process crucial for both mentors and mentees. In conclusion, she addressed generational differences in the workplace, recognising and respecting individual perspectives, and developing positive mindsets and leadership qualities.

The forum has set a strong precedent for future collaborations and innovations in postdoctoral research across the nation, aiming to create supportive frameworks that nurture talent and innovation in academia.

Read also:

Unisa kicks off National Postdoctoral Fellowship Forum


* By Kgothatso Mojela, Remembrance Manganyi and Kagiso Moroatsehla, Journalist Interns at the Department of Institutional Advancement

** Photograph by Shooheima Champion, Unisa Multimedia Centre

Publish date: 2024/07/10

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