For the first time since the pandemic, more than 30 Ministers who previously participated in the Harvard Ministerial Program and are still in office were reconvened for a three-day Roundtable in Addis Ababa last November.

The principal goal of the Roundtable is to provide an opportunity to refresh and build on the key under-girding tenets of the Ministerial Program: legacy, cross-government collaboration, and political navigation. It is also an opportunity for Ministers to frankly and informally discuss challenges they may be dealing with in achieving their legacy goal, as well as lessons learned while in office. “Giving voice” to the Ministers is a valued feature of the Roundtable.

The three-day curriculum combines high-level dialogue led by several former heads of state together with practical exercises designed to underscore the importance of a primary guiding purpose (legacy) in shaping the impact of a Minister’s contribution while in government, practical guidance on how to lead and institutionalize cross-government collaboration, as well as political navigation. Participating Ministers were expected to draw up and present a high-level plan to more effectively engage collaborating ministries in support of their legacy goals. The intended outcome is a reinvigorated effort by Ministers to achieve their legacy goals.

In a post-Roundtable assessment, Ministers were uniformly positive about the value of the exercise for their work as Minister. Most commonly Ministers emphasized that the Roundtable reinforced their confidence in their work. For example, one Minster wrote that “at the onset meeting at Harvard they were advised how to actively set themselves up for success, and the Roundtable sharpened their confidence.”

The primary overall impact Ministers attribute to the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program is its ability to support Ministers in “setting priorities and making sure that they are actionable with targets and timelines.” Some Ministers emphasized that what they learned from the Program is in order to reach target goals, there needs to be negotiation with and support from key stakeholders, such as the Prime Minister or Minister of Finance.