Cape Town | Having recently been named as one of TIME Magazines 100 most influential people in the world, Professor Glenda Gray was, on 3 August 2017, honoured with a “Lifetime Achiever award” by Africa’s most prestigious recognition platform for women – Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government.
The awards are the leading African recognition programme honouring excellence in the private and public sector. The programme covers 23 economic sectors and has for the past 17 years independently recognised those leaders who are at the pinnacle of their industry. “Nominees undergo a rigorous multi-tiered judging process,” says Annelize Wepener, Chief Executive, of CEO Global.
The SADC South portion of the recognition programme is the second leg of CEO Global’s recognition programme that takes it around the continent to 8 regions. In each of these regions country and regional winners are identified. According to Annelize, CEO Global’s recognition programmes dispel the notion that Africa has a paucity of innovative and progressive leadership talent.
South African born Gray is globally acclaimed and has on numerous occasions been honoured for her pioneering work in responsive medical research. She graduated in 1986 as a medical doctor from the University of Witwatersrand and in 1992 qualified as a paediatrician from the College of Medicine South Africa. She is currently at the helm of the country’s premier medical research institution coupled with other leadership portfolios such as Chair of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD).
Gray’ tenure at the SAMRC is characterised by strategic imperatives such as the need to transform the organisation at various levels. She has applied brave decision making and innovative thinking to employ strategies that have shown measurable results. Her strategic vision to train the next generation of scientists with a specific focus to transform the cadre to reflect that of South Africa; direct research funding to historically under resourced universities in the country and to invest resources into growing the critical mass of medical scientists to sustain the production of responsive medical research, are central to her transformation agenda.
“Every women is exceptional in design. More academic glass ceilings must be shattered by women to encourage equal economic opportunities and career progression for them” says Gray.
Determined to invest funds into the country’s priority medical research areas, Gray’s leadership has transformed the investment streams in medical research in a constricted economic climate. Having achieved four consecutive clean audits, the SAMRC’s focus over the medium term (2018/19 to 2019/20) will be to implement cost containment measures that will continue to confidently positon the public entity as a going concern whilst maintaining current research funding commitments. Funds for each strategic objective in the 2017/18 financial period have been allocated as follows: core research (ZAR 603 million); innovation and technology (ZAR 190 million); and capacity development (ZAR 58 million).
“There are tremendously inspirational stories at the core of each winner’s professional and personal life story. I am really very privileged to interact with these individuals. They deserve the admiration and respect they are afforded, particularly Lifetime Achievers who have often been absolute pioneers in their field”, said Annelize Wepener, Chief Executive, of CEO Global.
A determined Gray, in the current financial period, after presenting her 2017/18 Annual Performance Plan to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health devoted her team and the SAMRC to ambitious targets:
- achieve a fifth consecutive clean audit;
- increase the annual audited number of published journal articles from 500 to 700;
- spend only 20% of the organizational budget on administrative support costs;
- increase the number of annual research grants awarded from 120 to 168; and
- congratulate an estimated 55 post-doctoral students on completing their research in the financial period.
“We simply need to expand our trust in the leadership capabilities of women in a patriarchal society”, Gray concluded.
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