Nana Oye Akuffo was awarded the Research Management Professional (RMP) designation by the IPRC in October 2022. She shares her career journey and what inspired her to apply for professional recognition.
Nana Oye Akuffo is a Senior Research Development Officer at the University of Ghana’s Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID).
She is the Assistant General Secretary of the West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA).
Q: What motivated you to apply for professional status?
A: “Getting recognised in research management is very important to me because currently my institution has no structure for a research management career path and progression. When I was introduced to this platform, I knew this was an opportunity for me to strategically position myself as a recognised research manager, given the vast experiences I have gathered over the past fifteen years without a mechanism to be recognised.”
Q: How do you think professional recognition will benefit your career journey?
A: “It will definitely give me more exposure and get people to listen to the important role research managers play in a research enterprise. Once you are recognised as a professional in your career field, people take you more seriously and you have a bigger platform to exhibit your capabilities, exchange knowledge on best practices and network with other research management professionals across the world.”
Q: What do you find most rewarding and most challenging about working in research administration?
A: “My most rewarding moments are when the institution receives grants I submitted, and when I get the opportunity to present at international conferences. In 2018, I had the privilege of being awarded the maiden Research Administrators Mobility Program (RAMP) Scholarship by Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI). During the same period, I also applied for and won two National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA grants for capacity building in research management. It felt good not only excel as a research manager but also as a principal investigator leading a team.
The most challenging aspect of my career is when I have conflicts with faculty members due to differences in opinion on what faculty members’ expectations are as opposed to the expectations of a research manager. Research management can be overwhelming and exhausting most of the time, and when faculty members do not appreciate your efforts but rather pick up on your shortcomings, it can be quite frustrating.”
Q: Give us a glimpse of your career journey
A: “I had my Masters (MBA) in Human Resources and was recruited as a personal assistant to the Director of Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) at the University of Ghana. It ignited my interest in research management when I started reviewing proposals submitted for the Director’s signature. I expressed interest in learning more about research management and was fortunate to be selected for a staff training program at Yale University’s Office for Sponsored Research and Morehouse School of Medicine Research Office. Upon my return to NMIMR and with the support of management, I established the Office for Research Support with the recruitment of two staff to assist me. We started with a few projects and gradually increased our grant portfolio to about hundred and forty-seven (147) active projects at the Institute. I also played a key role in the establishment of research support offices in other sister universities across Ghana and West Africa, including the University of Development Studies (UDS), Tamale, the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Methodist University College, Ghana, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Public Health Institute of Liberia, and the University of Sierra Leone. I have successfully established the Institute for Research Administration and Capacity Building Africa (IRACAfrica), a private consultancy firm that assists with grant administration, advisory services and the establishment of grants offices at universities and research institutes.”