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A Business School serving its local Ecosystem | Wisdom and Wine

30 June 2022

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If business schools are to remain relevant and impactful on society they need to be engaged with their local systems and draw upon their unique characteristics to offer value to their students, stakeholders, and partners – both locally and around the world. By providing learning experiences, research expertise, and a convening space these linkages can act as a lever for societal impact. For a business school in the heart of the South Africa’s world-class winelands this is an obvious choice that has some additional advantages. Cheers!

These linkages develop organically. The challenge is to consolidate and value the activities for all stakeholders. Thanks to geographical proximity there is inevitably a range of initiatives underway: many masters and MBA projects focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing the wine sector; many faculty-led projects and PhDs working researching themes such as sustainability, tourism, family-owned business, and evolving consumer tastes; and many students from the sector.

A school’s alumni are perhaps the most obvious manifestation of these linkages. The alumni community are stakeholders who bring ideas, expertise, and initiatives to the school – gone are the days of a top-down relationship between a school and its former students. The launch of the Wisdom and Wine club was one such an alumni-led initiative that drew upon expertise, passion, and drive of a vibrant alumni community. Many Stellenbosch Business School alumni are active members of the wine producing and distribution community, not to mention keen amateur oenologists.

By being active members of their ecosystems business schools also bring their own expertise, values and ethos to other stakeholders and partners. The business school’s commitment to responsible leadership saw a strong theme of sustainability, inclusion and social impact at the launch event and strengthening of ties with key partners sharing these values.

Working with the local ecosystem also provides an avenue to global impact. The business school at Stellenbosch is working with other business schools with expertise in the wine sector from across the world. Further, the inaugural Wisdom and Wine event was hosted at a French-own wine farm in the winelands around Cape Town, part of an organization that distributes South African and other wines around the globe. The event was also supported by a local wine producer, newly acquired by a large global player.

In an increasingly competitive environment for management education business schools need to differentiate themselves from national competitors and international competition from global brands. The online post-pandemic environment has only served to accelerate these pressures. By being firmly embedded in their local ecosystems business schools can underline their unique offer, provide value to their stakeholders and partners, and have a strong societal impact to underline their relevance for the challenges and opportunities we face.

Some schools are just blessed to have fine wine as part of those ecosystems.

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