FEATURE

Hearing from our leaders of tomorrow:
The ESMO Leaders Generation Programme

Launched in 2016 to identify and nurture ESMO’s future leaders, the ESMO Leaders Generation Programme (LGP) is an intensive, motivational and inspiring course. Each year, ESMO selects a small group of talented young oncologists to learn about the Society’s role in oncology and to receive training in communication and leadership skills. We asked several participants from the 2016 and 2017 classes about their experiences of the programme.

Carmen Criscitiello

European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy; LGP participant 2016; ESMO Open Editorial Board for Breast Cancer, ESMO Breast Cancer Faculty, ESMO Press and Media Affairs Committee

What did you hope to achieve by attending the LGP?

When I applied to attend the LGP, I didn’t really know what to expect as it was the first year of the programme. I hoped to widen my network and to meet experts who could help with my professional growth.

Were your expectations met? What did you get out of the programme?

This experience exceeded my expectations. It provided a unique opportunity to be trained on professional skills that are not traditionally taught (for example, communication and media skills), but are essential to the role of a key opinion leader. After attending the programme, I was invited to become a member of the ESMO Breast Cancer Faculty and the ESMO Press and Media Affairs Committee.

Have you been able to apply any of the training/new skills to your daily practice?

Every time I communicate with patients and colleagues I try to use the skills I have learnt so that I communicate in the most relevant way depending on the context, the audience and the aim of the dialogue. I now apprieciate that the way I communicate can be as important as what I say, and the content can be reinforced through good communication. Participation in the LGP marked the start of a transition to a more mature phase of my career. Maybe it’s also thanks to the LGP that I was recently appointed High Specialty in Immunotherapy at the European Institute of Oncology.


How have you used what you learnt when carrying out ESMO-related activities? Has it changed the way you see the Society?

The LGP has given me some valuable insights into how ESMO works as a Society. Previously, I was not aware of the many professionals working for ESMO or the structure of the organisation.

“I feel that I am now part of one big ESMO family.”

With hindsight, what is your advice to anyone looking to take on a leadership role?

I would strongly recommend that young oncologists attend the LGP. Irrespective of age or role, I definitely think that attending training courses helps in the development of leadership skills. While leadership is something of an innate talent and attitude, I don’t think it’s possible to become a good leader without properly preparing for it.

Alessandra
Curioni-Fontecedro

University Hospital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland; LGP participant 2017; presenter at ESMO 2017 Congress and ESMO Preceptorship on Immuno-Oncology; ESMO Press and Media Affairs Committee

What did you hope to achieve by attending the LGP?

I hoped to learn more about ESMO as an organisation and to become part of it. I also wanted to interact with ESMO leaders, improve my communication and leadership skills, and to plan my career.

Were your expectations met? What did you get out of the programme?

I met all of the goals I had set when I attended the LGP. These were to identify areas for improvement at my institute; to develop a plan/vision for my career; to build networks at my institute through collaborative projects – at both national and international levels; to build a successful team in the clinic; and to create a research group in translational immuno-oncology.

Have you been able to apply any of the training/new skills to your daily practice?

Yes, I have applied the communication and leadership skills I learnt to plan and build a successful team (in the clinic and the laboratory).

Have you used what you learnt when carrying out ESMO-related activities? Has it changed the way you see the Society?

The way I see ESMO has changed, as I now understand the complexity of the Society. This greater understanding has enabled me to become part of ESMO and to bring ESMO’s vision to my institute.

“My greater understanding of ESMO has enabled me to bring the Society’s vision to my institute.”

With hindsight, what would you advise anyone looking to take on a leadership role?

I would encourage such colleagues to apply for the LGP.

Rodrigo Dienstmann

Oncology Data Science (ODysSey) Group, Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain; LGP participant 2017; ESMO Press and Media Affairs Committee

What did you hope to achieve by attending the LGP?

Over the last decade, I have put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into my career. I deliberately chose to train in a number of different fields (clinical care, molecular pathology, bioinformatics and data analysis), and have learned how to communicate with individuals from a wide range of disciplines, including basic researchers, information technologists and physicians. This has helped me to become a facilitator for many successful research projects and has also given me the opportunity to present my work at international conferences and educational sessions. The LGP was a natural step in my career. By attending the programme, I hoped to better understand how ESMO works and how I could contribute as a member of the Society.

Were your expectations met? What did you get out of the programme?

The LGP provided a unique opportunity to learn about ESMO structure and governance, education and scientific activities, fellowship opportunities, how the Society interacts with other organisations such as the WHO and the EMA, and its role in public policy. I was trained on communication and leadership skills, learnt about team building and coaching techniques, time management, prioritisation of work activities and dealing with stress.

“I have networked with LGP attendees from across Europe and had close contact with some amazing people.”

Have you been able to apply any of the training/new skills to your daily practice?

I am particularly interested in continuing medical education, media affairs and international projects in the field of precision medicine and digital health. After the LGP, I developed a strategic vision for my career. My team was recently awarded an H2020 Grant in Systems Biology for Precision Oncology and I was appointed Scientific Coordinator, which provides an excellent opportunity to apply my LGP learnings. Inspired by the programme, I also started an Executive MBA at ESADE Business School, with the aim of becoming a better manager and leader.

Have you used what you learnt when carrying out ESMO-related activities? Has it changed the way you see the Society?

I was impressed with the breadth and depth of work that ESMO executes, and its many international activities. After the LGP, I joined the ESMO Press and Media Affairs Committee, and this has given me a great opportunity to improve my communication skills when dealing with the press. I have also been actively participating in the planning of upcoming ESMO annual congresses, including abstract and non-abstract related programme content. I have been invited to various ESMO scientific events over the last year to present my group's work, and on each occasion I have recalled the LGP talks on slide preparation and how to engage the audience.

With hindsight, what would you advise anyone looking to take on a leadership role?

If you are interested in moving into group management and project coordination, now is the ideal time to raise your hand and take the lead. And that is irrespective of your age – Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. I encourage you to apply to the ESMO LGP and other high-potential programmes that can accelerate the development of up-and-coming leaders.

“There is no bad time to develop your leadership skills.”

Angela Lamarca

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK; LGP participant 2017; ESMO Press and Media Affairs Committee, ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee

What did you hope to achieve by attending the LGP?

At the time of applying to attend the LGP I was not completely sure of what to expect from the programme. I thought it might be just ‘another’ leadership course, however, the agenda seemed attractive and refreshing and this encouraged me to apply.

Were your expectations met? What did you get out of the programme?

The ESMO LGP far exceeded my expectations. Being selected for the ESMO LGP was a breakthrough in my career. It provided me with a whole overview of the philosophy and principles behind our society and enabled me to actively engage with ESMO and its activities. As a young oncologist, it has been a fantastic opportunity to join several ESMO committees (the Press and Media Affairs Committee and the Fellowship and Award Committee) and to contribute my views and experience towards building better oncology practice in Europe and beyond. The activities we undertook during the LGP provided me with insights into my skills and characteristics as a future leader in oncology and a better understanding of the relevance of training in media, presentation and communication skills. In addition, having a first-hand overview of other organisations that work closely with ESMO, such as the WHO and the EMA, was a privileged experience. I also had the opportunity to meet and engage with senior ESMO faculty and young colleagues from other countries and to initiate my own network and international collaborations. I would like to thank all faculty members for the time they spent with us. My take-home message from the LGP was to “Think big” (quote from our ESMO President, Josep Tabernero), and I constantly try to apply this in my daily practice.

“My take-home message from the LGP was to 'Think big'.”

Have you been able to apply any of the training/new skills to your daily practice?

Yes, both the media training and leadership courses provided useful techniques for daily practice. I gained insights into my own personality and an understanding of how my team works, so that I could identify areas to maximise the efficiency and functioning of the whole group. Having a good understanding of ESMO’s aims and becoming involved with ESMO activities since attending the LGP has also benefited me as an individual and my career as young medical oncologist.

Have you used what you learnt when carrying out ESMO-related activities? Has it changed the way you see the Society?

Yes, I now understand the rationale behind strategic decisions which were previously unclear to me. I also feel that I am part of ESMO, working towards better cancer care.

With hindsight, what would you advise anyone looking to take on a leadership role?

I have learnt that no-one works in isolation; we are all part of a team and will succeed only if our team succeeds. Having a good understanding of the team you are leading is as important as your own technical knowledge, leadership skills and strategic plan. I think the biggest challenge as a leader is to have the flexibility to call on different skills depending on the scenario, and also each individual you are interacting with.

Michiel Strijbos

AZ Klina Hospital in Brasschaat, Antwerp, Belgium; LGP participant 2016; Member of ESMO Publishing Working Group and ESMO Open Editorial Board for Urological Cancers

What did you hope to achieve by attending the LGP?

My priority was to gain insights into how ESMO is structured and managed, in addition to receiving professional media training.

Were your expectations met? What did you get out of the programme?

Yes, very much so. In the first part of the programme, both the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer of ESMO provided detailed insights into the organisation, including its structure, funding, bylaws, etc.

“The media training was amazing!”

Have you been able to apply any of the training/new skills to your daily practice?

Yes, I have contributed to many video interviews since attending the training and they have gone much more smoothly than before the course. I have also been able to manage my schedule effectively using the techniques I learnt during the programme.

How have you used what you learnt when carrying out ESMO-related activities? Has it changed the way you see the Society?

Yes, I am more aware of the visibility I have as an ESMO officer. I recently participated in a European School of Oncology (ESO)-ESMO Masterclass in the Balkan Region, and, as an ESMO representative, I focused not only on the science of oncology, but also on the support ESMO can provide to help implement this science in everyday clinical practice. I've become much more of an ESMO advocate since attending the LGP.

With hindsight, what is your advice to anyone looking to take on a leadership role?

I would advise them to be proactive, reliable, and also approachable.

Applications for the 2019 Leaders Generation Programme will be opening soon - keep an eye on esmo.org

ESMO Leader Generation 2017
ESMO Open 2018