Natasha recently joined Laterite Rwanda as a Program Associate. She brings over eight years’ experience in international development management and research consulting. We chatted with Natasha to see how she’s settling into her new role in Kigali.
What interested you in working at Laterite?
I found Laterite when I was at a juncture in my life, contemplating between starting a PhD in Education and International Development, or building the consultancy company I started during the pandemic. My thought process was all over the place; I had already gone through the application process and received admission, but I was uncertain about the impact that my research would have. I also knew that I needed to work on my research skills both for my PhD and consultancy work. Laterite was a good fit for me, a chance to improve my technical research skills in a practical way and continue to do work that has social impact. Ultimately, Laterite’s portfolio in education research was a selling point for me. It was an opportunity to gain practical experience in a sector I’m passionate about and hope to further my academic career in.
As Program Associate, what do you do at Laterite?
I serve as project lead, leading on the management, logistics and client-facing aspects of projects as well as supporting on the technical side when necessary. I make sure that during project planning, we are mindful of the team’s workload by creating timelines that reflect everyone’s availability. I also coordinate work among the different teams, making sure each team member feels adequately supported and valued. In terms of logistics, I manage project budgets and field budget approvals, lead the IRB processes and support invoicing. I also lead all client communications and interactions, from regular meetings to stakeholder engagements as well as dissemination activities.
We know you’re passionate about research in peace and education. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
I previously worked in marginalized post-conflict contexts in South Sudan, CAR and the North Rift counties of Kenya. I witnessed firsthand the impact of exposure to different perspectives in peace building. As a Rwandan, I am also too familiar with what a destructive education system could result in. I believe education is a strong pillar for building sustainable peace and preventing atrocities. The integration of peace and values education into the Rwandan national curriculum fostered my interest in understanding the impact of an education system that incorporates social and emotional learning, and what this would mean for future generations of Rwandans.
“Laterite’s portfolio in education research was a selling point for me. It was an opportunity to gain practical experience in a sector I’m passionate about and hope to further my academic career in.”
What are you working on now?
I’m currently leading three projects in different sectors. The first is a mixed method impact evaluation of the Spark Microgrants’ ACE project, a social protection program. The second is a policy assessment measuring progress made on the recommendations from the World Bank’s Future Drivers of Growth Report. The third project is a learning partnership with SNV to provide monitoring and evaluation support for their regenerative agriculture program in Rwanda and Kenya. I have also been supporting on business development and improvement, and I look forward to being involved in other roles which aren’t project-specific.
How are you settling into your role and the team?
It’s only been a few months since I joined, but it doesn’t feel that way. Everyone’s been so welcoming, supportive, and open to answering all my questions (I tend to ask many). I have already developed what I hope are lifelong friendships. The team is absolutely the best part of working in Laterite for me. I think I’m settling into the role well, and the team is adjusting to having me around too. I have found that there is freedom to grow into the role and make it your own; while still incorporating the Laterite style. I am always excited to learn new things and share what I know. Luckily for me, not a day goes by without at least one of the two happening.
What are your future goals—for yourself and for Laterite?
I envision my time at Laterite being very educational. I’m excited to learn from the team as I strengthen my leadership, project management and research skills in a practical way, perhaps with a methodological or sectoral focus. I look forward to contributing to excellent research, establishing connections and to the continued evolvement of Laterite as a whole.