Investing in the future leaders of oncology

One of the issues that organisations face today is how to attract young professionals, in order to remain relevant and capture the ever-changing landscape. In the healthcare world, the young professionals are too busy: they are focusing on their careers and do not have time to give to academic organisations and societies.

EORTC realized to stay at the forefront of clinical research in cancer; it needs to invest in young healthcare professionals to become future leaders of its organization. Therefore, in partnership with McKinsey and Company, it has compiled a two-year course, called the Early Career Investigator’s Leadership Program. This course endeavours to develop selected young professionals in becoming effective leaders, encouraging them to develop EORTC’s evolution for the future. They will have the opportunity to learn new leadership skills through McKinsey, take part in numerous EORTC committees and activities to understand what EORTC does and then develop the strategy for the future. EORTC believes that investing this time with the future leaders will engage them to develop the organization in the years to come and which ultimately will continue to facilitate EORTC’s mission and vision to improve outcomes and quality of life of cancer patients.

The first session took place from 13 to 15 November 2017 in EORTC HQ in Brussels, 34 future leaders came together to understand how EORTC operates and compose a vision for oncology of the future. The two-day programme opened with an inspiring lecture from Professor Martine Piccart, presenting her career path to become head of department and president of EORTC. Professor Betrand Tombal, President of EORTC, also gave a lecture on being the current president and the challenges EORTC faces today. Professor Elisabeth de Vries from the Netherlands gave a provocative lecture on the future of oncology.

These influential leaders set the tone of the programme and after which McKinsey introduced the concept of centred leadership, focussing on leadership management and strategic thinking. Dr Paolo Bossi, Medical Oncologist from Italy, who participated in the programme said, “The first session gave us the opportunity to discover the complexity of the organization and the possibility to acquire knowledge about the processes guiding the design and implementation of new trials. Moreover, the course allowed us to recognize our ability to be good leaders, learning how to recognize our personal characteristics and the way in which these features could help to strengthen the team. We consider such a session the first step to grow into EORTC and to give our contribution, in terms of energy, ideas and willingness to increase the value of this organization.”

The objective of the programme is to train young investigators to become leaders in international clinical research and take leadership positions within EORTC. Continuing its legacy in improving the standards of care, prolonging survival and increasing the quality of life for the benefit of cancer patients. “The ECI leadership programme improved my insights in the EORTC structure and it functioning as a whole,” said Dr Piet Oost, Radiation Oncologist from Belgium. “It also improved my personal skills as a team leader.”

The programme is divided into five sessions. The first three sessions will be a cooperation of EORTC and McKinsey while the two last sessions will be coordinated by EORTC.

There are four strategic themes:

  • Partnerships with learned societies: the rationale, benefits and optimal model
  • Partnerships with academic institutions: how to build the partnership
  • EORTC scientific strategy: the way forward
  • EORTC Network: the structure and future model

“The session was very beneficial as it really widened my perspective on international cancer research; before I was mainly focused on breast cancer collaboration,” said Dr Frederieke van Duijnhoven, Surgical Oncologist, from The Netherlands. “The EORTC course enabled me to interact with many other specialists who all deal with similar problems and challenges, and I feel that meeting these professionals, whom you would otherwise very unlikely to meet or seek out, will lead to long lasting and fruitful collaborations.”

“I support the comments made by my fellow participants, about this programme it is very beneficial, great for networking and leadership development as well as understanding about the inner workings of EORTC,” said Dr Lizza Hendriks, Pulmonologist from the Netherlands. “It is a great initiative from EORTC!”

The next session will be from 19 to 21 February 2018 and it will focus on the partnership between academia and industry. McKinsey and Company will address how to be strategic leaders.

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