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Munashe Rumhuma: A Laidlaw case study

I used to think that being a leader relied on being confident, strong and having a desire to be at the top of your profession. Now I’ve realised that to be a really good leader you need empathy, self-awareness and resilience.

Munashe Rumhuma’s vision is to become a Paediatric Doctor. She is currently a second year undergraduate in Biomedical Sciences and while she’s enjoying her degree, Munashe would like a career that focuses on working with, and helping, other people.

She chose to come to the University of York as she felt that the people she met were passionate about what they were teaching and studying. She applied for the Laidlaw Scholarship for similar reasons and it isn’t hard to see why she was successful.

Bright, passionate and self-aware, Munashe is honest about her initial thoughts on the programme:

“At first I wasn’t really interested in the leadership side, but that quickly changed. We’ve been lucky enough to hear from some actual leaders – entrepreneurs, business owners – and it’s completely changed my perception of the qualities that a leader needs and how a truly great leader can get the best out of every member of their team.”

Munashe has also enjoyed undertaking personality testing which confirmed a lot of what she already knew about herself. While what came out of the testing may not have been a surprise, how she is learning to respond differently when faced with challenging situations, is where she has found the most value.

“I already know how hard I take failure but this programme has taught me to keep perspective. I used to think that if I ‘failed’ at anything it was very personal: I was the failure. Now I realise that not everything is always going to work out and I have to manage my own high expectations. This will be even more vital as a Doctor; I won’t be able to save every patient and I need a mindset that supports this – as long as I do everything I can, then that is enough.”

Munashe decided to focus her research project on perceptions and knowledge of nutrition and disease. She chose the topic after seeing what her housemates were eating one night for dinner and she realised that she wanted to better understand the choices they made.

She initially wanted to research the quality and quantity of the knowledge of nutrition that a person has and the correlation to their health. However she quickly realised that most participants had at least some level of knowledge so Munashe changed the focus to researching the gap between the knowledge people have and the day-to-day decisions they make around food choices.

Munashe has found some of the results interesting. One question focuses on social media and how it influences food choices. The responses received showed that most participants didn’t feel that social media had a huge impact on their eating decisions.

While Munashe doesn’t want to go into a career in research, she feels like the research period has led to her having stronger faith in herself and her abilities:

“Before this I didn’t believe that I could have a research idea, design an experimental process for it and come out with an output. But I’ve proved that I am able to do this. I am a Scientist and I can go into research or I can decide not to but it’s an informed choice and that has been the most empowering thing.”