August 2016 saw the World Olympics bringing countries together in Brazil – meanwhile in Baltimore, PMA2020 hosted an Olympics of another kind: the annual Data Management Bootcamp, which was in full force for two weeks, kicking off the training on August 8.
The two-week marathon was truly global: 18 data managers from 10 countries, including Narendra and Punit, from team India, who were unable to join in person but participated remotely from Jaipur, India at the Indian Institute of Health Management Research (PMA2020’s implementing partner for the India survey). Despite the distance and time difference, they fully participated in the workshop activities, going the extra mile – from 7,500 miles and 9 hours away.
A true champion, Narendra was not phased by having to participate remotely: “I can manage if [my supervisor] will give me the flexibility for doing work. Without being boastful, I am very eager to learn so time zone doesn’t matter to me. All things can be done if anyone has willpower. And I am very happy that I am the youngest data manager. One high five is attached.”
Narendra’s high five was met with three more as his supervisor and the two other PMA2020/IIHMR teammates supported his and Punit’s full participation in the workshop.
With this spirit, Narendra, Punit and the rest of the PMA2020 data managers dived right into the bootcamp, learning how to transform paper surveys into Open Data Kit (ODK), the mobile application that allows field staff to administer the PMA2020 questionnaires on the phones. An atmosphere of healthy competition and collaboration was evident throughout the workshop as the data managers gained skills and practical experience in the statistical analysis software STATA, Google Earth, and in understanding key indicators in policy settings. All country teams had ample opportunities to apply and demonstrate their new skills frequently by sharing with the group and obtaining constructive feedback.
When asked about the schedule adjustment, Narendra expressed, “Security guards are very active over here [IIHMR]. They came and checked two times daily at night and they offered us tea at 1:00AM. We got full support from them as well.”
Punit also changed his working hours from day to night. This was his major difficulty – staying awake all night in order to participate actively in each session. If asked to do it again?
“I loved to attend the training sessions all the time at any place, because it always enhanced my existing knowledge and skills,” replied Punit.
“I would love to join the bootcamp again [in person] as it was very informative and helped in brushing up my skills,” Narendra shares. “And sure I would love to join again with the same process. I would like to be there for the next bootcamp so all hurdles that I faced this time I will not face and I will meet with each and every member of PMA2020.”
On the last day, August 19, PMA2020 Olympic Medals were presented to recognize the exceptional performance of the country teams. Niger won gold, India silver and Uganda bronze. Every participant was acknowledged with a certificate of achievement for the enthusiasm, teamwork and dedication to the mission of PMA2020 (generating high quality, rapid-turnaround data actionable for improving policies and practice), to which the data management team is absolutely central – wherever they are in the world.