Leaders in nutrition are needed in all sectors of activity—academic, corporate, governmental, and nongovernmental—at junior, mid-career, and senior levels. The authors of this panel have developed, led, or participated in one or more of the three major formal nutrition leadership programs operating around the world: the European Nutrition Leadership Platform (ENLP), the Dannon Nutrition Leadership Institute (DNLI), and the African Nutrition Leadership Programme (ANLP). Here we describe these programs and reflect on how well they are addressing the global need to develop leaders in nutrition.

The three leadership programs, targeted to early and mid-career professionals, do not focus on the technical aspects of nutrition. Among other things, their goals are to develop communications and interpersonal skills, build strategic influence, explore how teams and organizations function and can be influenced, develop professional networks, clarify leadership and managerial responsibilities, and share information on team building,
advocacy, and transformational leadership in a broader context.

Do these programs add value? No formal metrics are available for comparing the individual and professional outcomes of program graduates with those of individuals not selected for these programs. It is challenging to tell if, and to what extent, these programs separately and together have changed nutrition. But from year-onyear contact, we know that program graduates use the alumni and other networks that they have developed for both personal
support and professional advancement for many years afterward. They report that they are better able to manage their time and integrate their many personal and professional
responsibilities.

Moreover if they did not initially see themselves as future leaders, graduates of these programs do afterward. Many graduates now hold positions of leadership in their specific professional disciplines within nutrition and in different types of nutrition-related organizations. Some have chosen to focus on discovery science while others are contributing to solving global problems in nutrition in other ways. The solution to nutrition problems lies in harnessing the talents of leaders with this wide range of skills.

With only 100 participants engaged with the three major programs every year, many of whom choose careers not necessarily geared to scaling up actions to reduce undernutrition, it is difficult to generate a critical mass of leaders within an organization, country, or region. Although we have no scientific evidence to back our conclusion, we suspect that current leadership development efforts represent a suboptimal level of investment in the leadership capacity needed to scale up nutrition action.

Author: KATHLEEN M. RASMUSSEN, JOHANN JERLING, AND JEF L. LEROY

Source: International Food Policy Research Institute. 2015. Global Nutrition Report 2015: Actions and Accountability to Advance Nutrition and Sustainable Development. Washington, DC.