In October 2016 I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Oceania Nutrition Leadership Programme (ONLP) alongside 22 other early to mid-career nutritionists. The 10 day training stretched our boundaries, and enabled us to reflect on ourselves as developing nutrition leaders in our organisations, communities and countries.
The course was focused on leadership skills and styles that work best in the Oceania region. Participants practiced leadership and communication skills throughout the programme. This practical experience was important for development of new skills, trying new ways of leading and influencing, and to brainstorm ways to deal with real life situations in our workplaces and communities. Impacts of culture on leadership, influencing global policy, food systems and sustainability, big data, and cross-sector collaboration were other topics of focus.
As a public health nutritionist who works to improve my local food system, I found it valuable being taught by experts with backgrounds in agriculture, horticulture, chemistry and marine systems ecology, rather than learning only from respected nutrition leaders. The variety of fields reflects the need for nutritionists working with the food system to collaborate across all aspects of the food system.
Nutrition leaders must take the responsibility for promoting sustainable food systems. We must adapt our communication to be effective in the current online environment of conflicting and excessive information.
ONLP is structured in a way that supports participants to continue learning from each other throughout their careers, through a professional network. The Oceania Nutrition Leadership Programme will be repeated in 2018, and is currently seeking sponsorship. An investment in ONLP is an investment in the health of the people of Oceania, and I would highly recommend this programme to aspiring nutrition leaders from throughout the region.
I would like to acknowledge the New Zealand Nutrition Society, Healthy Families Rotorua, and the Heart Foundation who sponsored and supported my attendance.
Dr Andrew Reynolds
From 2-10 October 2016 I participated in the inaugural Oceanic Nutrition Leadership Program (ONLP). The aim of the course was to develop, inspire and connect a new generation of innovative leaders working in the field of nutrition throughout Oceanic countries. I found the course brilliant. The content covered was well delivered and thought provoking, and the people participating were very inspirational.
Attending the course was an incredible experience for me as an early career researcher considering what next. The eight days together was dominated by an ongoing discussion of our role as a professional network in the Oceanic region. Being together for this time, and having a limited connection to the outside world allowed this conversation to develop in ways that showed trust, principles, and respect. The eight days produced a network of individuals happy to work together and help each other on issues relevant to the food environment and health of people in our region. I learnt a lot from the experience and believe it will benefit my work throughout my career. My participation in the course would not of happened without the support of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand.