NAS Women: Solving a challenge that has benefits for society
Women's Month: Focus on Prof Sheryl Hendriks
Q: Job title and in which department/research entity do you work?
A: Professor and Head of Department for Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career?
A: Engagement in the preparation for the United Nations Food System Summit. I have worked with exceptional teams in the past, but engagement relied on long international flights to attend small, closed meetings with long periods of limited contact with the team. COVID meant that all the work for the Summit had to happen online, enabling engagement with thought-leaders across the world working on advancing food systems theory and identifying the solutions to food system challenges. Earlier global research collaboration models were constrained, but working online has been exciting, with daily advances in solving food system problems. I have been able to work with an extensive network of internationally recognised researchers and engage with thinkers from the private sector, indigenous peoples' groups, farmers and staff from United Nations Agencies.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Solving a challenge that has benefits for society. I thrive on working with teams of people unafraid to tackle the complexity of contemporary social problems related to food insecurity, malnutrition and food systems.
Q: What challenges have you experienced in your career?
A: Juggling between being the mother of two sons while advancing my research career, travelling to keep connected in the international research community.
Q: What message do you have for the youth of South Africa?
A: Follow your heart. Find a career that not only satisfies your need for meaning in life but also adds value to the lives of others.