This is the first post in a series featuring some of the first marine conservation leaders participating in the African Marine Conservation Leadership Programme that Blue Ventures and Maliasili started in 2020. They share their leadership journeys as part of the programme, which aims to strengthen marine conservation in the Western Indian Ocean region by training leaders of outstanding conservation organisations.
Julitha Mwangamilo, Programme Manager at Sea Sense, Tanzania.
I joined the marine conservation space 20 years ago, starting as a researcher, and working on fish species. At the time, my work gave me little to no satisfaction. I rarely enjoyed my job because I was not working with people and communities. I wanted to help, nurture and guide others so they would grow like I was.
I started looking into roles that suit my capabilities, and the more I thought about it, the more I grew the urge to work with people to conserve the marine environment. My main aim was to work in conservation to satisfy people’s needs while getting them to own the conservation process. At the time, I never realised that I was leading people to adopt community-led conservation. I thought then that I was working through trial and error towards change in coastal fisher communities, wanting to make people happy.
However, when I joined the Africa Marine Conservation Leadership Programme (AMCLP), I realised that sound leadership is essential if we want to be successful. The Leadership Programme has changed my leadership style and made me more self-aware. The programme has changed me and allowed me to connect deeply with people, enabling me to communicate more effectively and making my work more enjoyable.
What excites me in my current role as the Programme Manager at Sea Sense is the chance to build the capacity of my team and ladies from fisher communities. For instance, I once worked with mothers from the community to secure secondary education for their children through alternative income-generating activities and selling fish.
The lessons learnt during the leadership training will continue to impact how I lead, mentor my team well, and work with the community. One of the greatest lessons I have learnt from AMCLP is precise coordination and problem-solving, and I am happy to share these lessons because we all need to thrive.