Associate Professor Robert Mudida Promoted to Full Professor
Prof. Robert Mudida has spent the last five months developing a COVID-19 social economic recovery and reengineering strategy for the 47 counties, a project done in collaboration with the Council of Governors and the Kenya Institute Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) through World Bank support.
Recovery and reengineering strategy
The ongoing project entailed developing strategies that will help counties recover from the worst effects of the pandemic. Two strategies have so far been prepared: an overall strategy as a summary guide to all counties and the other, county-specific strategies, tailored to match the needs of each of the 47 counties.
“We completed work on the recovery strategy a month ago and are now engaging counties on their reaction to the county-specific strategies while working on the implementation phase. We don’t want the document to sit pretty on a shelf. We want it to actually benefit the counties.”
The other aspect of the project will involve a reengineering strategy, with the realization that after COVID-19, even after counties have recovered, they will have to brace themselves for a new normal. “By mid-2021, counties will have made short-term recovery but they will be faced with the new normal. What will be the new realities for critical sectors – education, agriculture, health, manufacturing – and how can we prepare the counties with appropriate policies to respond in an innovative way?”
Prolific researcher and scholar
Prof. Mudida, whose CV reads impressively, both academically as a prolific researcher and scholar, coupled with practical experience in international business after working at the World Bank, the Embassy of Chile and of Spain, has now set his foot firmly in the academic world.
Late last year, he sent his application for the position of Full Professor with his eyes set on taking a leap from Associate Professor by his 50th birthday. He achieved it a few months after his birthday this February after a rigorous process of internal and external interviews. He now becomes the first homegrown Full Professor of the Business School and joins the ranks of Prof. Gilbert Kokwaro and Prof. Jacqueline McGlade. “I wanted to have a certain academic maturity by the time I became a Full Professor and I think I have now achieved that after putting all my energies into it over the last few years.”
His achievements demonstrate that one can make strides in academia and still leave a mark in industry. He transitioned from industry into the academic world taking a significant drop in pay so as to situate himself in the environment that most nurtures and utilizes his talents. “I am passionate about my teaching, research and consulting. These consultancy projects enrich my academic work as it helps to have practical experience while disseminating knowledge in class. In turn, my academic work, based on rigorous conceptual foundations, helps with my consultancy work and feeds into my research work.”
His yearly target is to have at least one publication per quarter, a target that he achieves in some years and misses in others. This year, however, has been one of the most productive. Besides his time spent reengineering the economies of counties, he worked on a policy brief that was influential in the reopening of the economy. He has also been assisting Kenya negotiate the Free Trade Agreement with the US, an assignment still under the World Bank. And even while working on these projects critical to the economy of the country, he found time to complete six Coursera courses in varying topics in Philosophy and Economics.
He credits having mentors in both teaching and research as having had the most impact during his journey to becoming a Full Professor. “I have collaborated with top academics in Spain, Italy, the US, who have immense research experience, contributing to those projects by providing the African perspective. It is important to have mentors because one cannot do this alone.” Part of these collaborations have involved being a visiting professor at the University of St. Gallen, University of Navarra, Anchor University, the African School of Economics and the University of Rwanda.
He doesn’t fail to attribute his success to his parents beginning with his mother, who, after having relocated to Kenya, fit into the Kenyan culture and always took a keen interest in his achievements, a trait she still has. When he was a teen, with his eyes set on other things but his studies, his father read through all his literature set books so as to guide him through the final year exams. “His dedication and ability to go all that way for me planted the seed for hard work and my love for literature.” His father also passed on his love of languages to him: Last year, Prof. Mudida sat for the highest level qualifications for both Spanish and French. He also has a working knowledge of the Russian Language.
He is using the same parenting approach and tutors with his own children in some subjects as well as inculcating the love for languages in them. To his four children, however, three of whom are in their teen years, he remains Dad first. “They know Dad has achieved something great, but what is more important to them is the relationship I have with them.”
Prof. Mudida is the Director, Strathmore Institute for Public Policy and Governance (SIPPG), the course leader of the Master Negotiator programme at Strathmore University Business School. He is also a co-academic lead and faculty member on the Behavioral Science course for Public Policy jointly run with the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics. He has an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, an MA and Doctorate in International Studies from the University of Nairobi. He has published three books Modern Economics, Financial Management and Structural Sources of Constitutional Conflicts in Kenya. Read his full profile here.
This article was written by Wambui Gachari.
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