News & events


13 November 2018

Young researcher plays important role in securing current and future innovation research funding

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Dr Sikhulumile Sinyolo, or Skhu, as he is affectionately known by his colleagues, began working at the HSRC in February 2017 after completing his PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Fresh from university, he was employed as a Research Specialist in the Economic Performance and Development (EPD) research unit and was immediately tasked with the responsibility of managing two large projects in the area of rural innovation and development.

Skhu has subsequently been involved in three additional research projects. In twenty months, he has managed to publish seven peer-reviewed articles, one chapter in a book and has also helped to raise R10.6 million in external funding. He then led the drafting of three proposals on rural innovation which have been submitted to different potential funders, and one of them (R2 million) has been accepted by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and is at the contracting stage.

Skhu feels that being part of a team that has established relations with key stakeholders and funders helped him a lot. “I was determined last year to build relationships with key actors in my research areas, and I feel I have made significant progress in that regard. Being a member of EPD’s rural team has helped me to network with the right people in the right places. I am lucky to be part of a team that has afforded me the time to set my own growth targets without excessive pressure. The aim this year is to strengthen my reputation in delivering quality work, so that potential funders will trust me with more work.” His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as he has drawn specific praise from funders. In particular, his management of the rural innovation projects has resulted in the Department of Science and Technology, giving the team more work.

With these many responsibilities, managing one’s time becomes a necessity. For Sikhulumile, striking a healthy balance between project management, networking, fundraising and publishing has been no easy feat. However combining his own initiative with support from peers and senior researchers he notes that, “Working at the HSRC has provided me with valuable opportunities to advance my career, it has also required me to become much better organised and to manage my time carefully. It has been a steep learning curve”. He adds that he has had to learn to be much more strategic about his time management and has developed these and his team management skills to a strong degree in a short period of time, by trying out different approaches to see what works best for him and his numerous obligations. This has been crucial to his ability to direct and contribute to research support and fundraising.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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