Ensuring the sustainability of the MCAA - MCAA Magazine March 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic may have curtailed activities but growth in MCAA membership remained steady. Mostafa Shawrav, who has been chair of MCAA since 2020, speaks to us about the activities led by the Board during the past two years.

Mostafa Moonir Shawrav has been the chair of MCAA since 2020 and was vice-chair for the previous 2 years. Entering his new role as MCAA chair, Mostafa faced an unprecedented challenge: COVID-19. “The pandemic created opportunities for us to engage with internal and external stakeholders in a way which we never imagined before,” he recalls.

TAKING THE LEAD

Like every life experience – especially those that are challenging, the pandemic was an opportunity to learn and grow. “I learned how to persevere, understand different points of view, lead a multicultural, diverse team of volunteers with different expertise, communicate effectively and much more,” Mostafa says.

As MCAA Chair, he has taken on a large variety of tasks and responsibilities – from the overall management of the association and forming multi-level stakeholder relationships to forging internal governance, sponsorships and providing external and internal training. Rising to the challenges, Mostafa dedicated a large part of his workday to MCAA, devoting up to 80 hours each month.

A COMMITTED BOARD

Mostafa was not alone during the past two years. The work and dedication of the MCAA Board resulted in a series of great achievements. Mostafa is quick to note the creation of a long-term strategic vision for the association that will serve as a baseline for future MCAA leaders. Improvements in communication activities and the internal processes as regards the functioning of the chapters and working groups top the list of achievements.

Mostafa also highlights the Board’s commitment to the field of science policy. “The MCAA was quite active on various policy-related topics focusing on Horizon Europe, the EU key funding programme for research and innovation, as well as the European Research Area, open science, researchers assessment, the mental health of researchers, and many others. It is thanks to the expertise of all our members that the MCAA established itself as a leading association working to shape the future of Science Policy in Europe,” he explains.

What’s more, MCAA offered a range of career development opportunities (online courses via eCornell, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning) and customised courses on topics such as Design Thinking for career planning, entrepreneurship, science diplomacy, and mental health. “Currently, a pilot phase of the mentoring programme is ongoing. After the evaluation, a separate mentoring platform will be opened for all our members,” adds Mostafa.

He also notes the importance of the synergies created with various organisations such as Initiative for Science in Europe, Eurodoc, Young Academy of Europe, and EuroScience. The MCAA also became a member of both the International Science Council (ISC) and the EU Science Diplomacy Alliance.

All the while, membership has been growing. MCAA membership increased from 14,000 to 20,000 in less than two years. “Considering that we couldn’t hold any physical events [due to COVID-19 lockdown measures], this is a remarkable increase,” he says.

FOR THE FUTURE MCAA CHAIR

Asked about the future of MCAA, Mostafa foresees significant changes in the financial support the MCAA receives, resulting in a self-sustained organisation. “Ifthere is a single achievement that needs to be mentioned, I think this is ensuring the sustainability of the organisation in terms of future support,” he explains.

When the time comes to pass the baton to his successor, Mostafa will be ready with tips and advice. “My suggestion would be to focus on the holistic view of the association, understand the unique advantage of MCAA, how to leverage a large number of volunteers and engage them in different activities,” he says. For Mostafa, understanding Europe’s evolving research landscape and the challenges faced by researchers is key to ensuring a successful mandate as chair. Also, the next chair should not be afraid to delegate, according to Mostafa.

“It was an honour and privilege to serve the association for two years as chair and prior to that, two years as a vicechair. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you,” he concludes.

Aurélia Chaise
MCAA Editorial Team

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