Alumni News 2017

mba journey

My MBA journey: Successful translation of leadership skills to European boardroom

AlumNet

My MBA journey: Successful translation of leadership skills to European boardroom

  • Felix Faulhaber
  • DEC 16 2017
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

When I enrolled at the USB in 2007 to study the Full-time MBA in 2008, it seemed like another logical step on my path. I had studied International Business and Aerospace Engineering in Germany, worked in a number of companies to gain some practical experience, and wanted to complete my advanced degree before getting into the world of management consulting. I didn’t think the MBA was going to add much to my education except for the additional degree. I quickly realised I was wrong.

 

The MBA prepared me for my career in ways I did not even understand while I was going through it. Especially the focus on finding my own leadership style and how to adapt that style depending on the situation helped me tremendously in the various stages of my career up to this point. Just like I did, you may find yourself thinking that all of the things you talk about in the leadership courses seems rather obvious. I can tell you that while it seems that way, you can learn a lot about yourself if you embrace the content and truly try to learn from it.

The MBA prepared me for my career in ways I did not even understand while I was going through it. The focus on finding my own leadership style and how to adapt that style depending on the situation helped me tremendously in the various stages of my career up to this point.

After the MBA, I joined McKinsey & Company. I know there is some controversy about the firm in South Africa right now, but one thing that is hard to deny is the tremendous professional opportunities and development you can obtain in your time there. I got the chance to work on three continents (Africa, Europe and North America) and various industries (automotive, mining, infrastructure, consumer goods, and healthcare) with some of the smartest people I had ever met. I learned many things during my five and a half years there, specifically around managing my own teams, delivering high-quality output on time, and collaborating with various stakeholders to implement complex solutions. At the same time, the insights I gained from my MBA at the USB helped me tremendously, especially related to client management and portraying confidence despite being younger than many of my clients.

 

After my time at McKinsey, I joined Coca-Cola in Atlanta (USA) as director of Strategic Initiatives. It was the first time I worked in a leadership position in a large global consumer goods company. It became clear to me that it is critical in this environment to be able to build strong relationships and use softer influencing techniques for initiatives to be implemented, which was again something that USB’s MBA prepared me for through the various leadership modules.

 

I subsequently joined a technology startup called Rubicon Global as Chief Innovation and Supply Chain Officer. This was my first role where I was involved in talking with investors and being part of Board of Director meetings. I quickly realised that the same leadership lessons from the USB courses that had worked for all other settings in my career equally applied in these settings. Continuously reflecting on how discussions went and what I could do differently next time helped me be better and better prepared for difficult questions and conversations.

 

I am now a senior Corporate Strategy Director and Head of Competitive Strategy at Kimberly-Clark. In this role, I had the opportunity to present to the Board of Directors of a Fortune 500 company for the first time in my life. The board is filled with current and former CEOs of the world’s leading companies. However, the leadership lessons from my MBA continue to apply, even in this setting.

 

If someone had told the burger-flipping 18-year old me that I would be having these types of conversations with leaders of the world’s largest companies just 15 years later, I would have just laughed. I still have a long way to go and am excited what is still coming in my career, but I can definitely say that the USB played a pivotal role in my journey up to this point.

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operations management

Focus on an Alumni Achiever: Maxwell Saungweme

AlumNet

Focus on an Alumni Achiever: Maxwell Saungweme

usb alumni

  • DEC 16 207
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

Maxwell is a political commentator and an operations management professional. He has over 16 years of programme design, development and management experience in many countries, including Zimbabwe, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Afghanistan. He holds both a Masters in Development Studies as well as in Development Finance. Maxwell currently resides in Nigeria and works for an NGO called Search for Common Ground.

The impact of studying development finance at the USB: 

  • What has impressed Maxwell greatly is the diversity of lecturers at the USB – scholars from all over the world. Black African scholars, white scholars and visiting professors allowed him to gain an international and a Pan-African perspective, which is particularly useful in his field of work.
  • Graduating with a Masters in Development Finance from the USB gave him a greater level of authority and respect in industry.

The richness and relevance of his experience at the USB is evident in that his work is recognised and applicable not only in Nigeria, but spreading to other countries, such as Zimbabwe and Ghana.

  • From a career point of view, he finds that people are more interested in him because of the combination of his degrees: a Masters in Development Studies and a Masters in Development Finance. Maxwell found employment immediately after graduating from the USB. He firmly believes that this was the result of his degree and the respect that the university enjoys world-wide. Maxwell currently holds the position of Deputy Director for a large international NGO in Nigeria, Search for Common Ground.
  • In terms of his expertise and working for an NGO, studying has helped him to become a more rounded person, moving him from Operations Management to understanding Finance as well. He started appreciating that for development to happen one needs to understand how important access to finances is. As an NGO they receive money, such as bilateral grants from outside donors, but there is also a need to be financially sustainable. He is able to discuss this with his Finance Director and help shape the course of finance in his organisation.
  • The research he conducted as part of his degree fulfillment was on the financial sustainability of local NGOs. Since his graduation, Maxwell has been able to put into practice many of the findings and recommendations from his studies. Learning the financial side of development has made him drive this vision of a financially sustainable NGO, inculcating a culture of social corporate responsibility, and of raising funds within the organisation while reducing operational costs.
  • Maxwell is able to give examples of effective and financially sustainable NGOs in South Africa based on the exposure to these NGOs through studying at the USB. Examples include: Running services and charging fees for those services. With this insight, NGOs are starting to raise money by selling products and ploughing that money back into their nonprofit work. His current organisation owns big open spaces, part of which they now rent out for a fee to support some of their institutional structures.
  • He has learned about the delicate link between the profit-making aspects of NGOs while maintaining their nonprofit status.
  • The insistence on financial sustainability has led to frank assessments relating to budgeting and financial planning for the organisation as the focal point in assessing whether they are able to generate some form of income with the resources available to them. Maxwell has started to ensure that the sub-grants which Search for Common Ground provides, support institutional capacities of other NGOs and promote their long-term financial sustainability.
  • He has become a recognised voice on sustainability topics in the development sector, thereby driving policy changes for NGOs and influencing donor policies in Africa. He has influenced funding decisions by donors in Nigeria and Zimbabwe to support local NGOs and has ensured they also provide funding that helps develop financial sustainability systems.
  • He develops weekly context updates in Nigeria which are sent out by his organisation to current and potential donors. He does commentary in the South African and Zimbabwe media on social, economic and political issues. Some of the ideas, level of analysis and the skills to do so he believes he gained at the USB. He is a known commentator on key issues in the development sector and his analysis has improved significantly since he completed his studies.
  • The richness and relevance of his experience at the USB is evident in that his work is recognised and applicable not only in Nigeria, but spreading to other countries, such as Zimbabwe and Ghana. The Pan- African influence and exposure gained through the various USB Development Finance lecturers has had a lot to do with this.
  • ​Maxwell appears in various media platforms – interviews on CNBC Africa, newspapers like The Herald, and online platforms such as Bulawayo24, allafrica.com and others, again influencing public opinion.

 

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MBA alumnus

Old Mutual Namibia business woman and USB MBA alumnus scoops prestigious award

AlumNet

Old Mutual Namibia businesswoman and USB MBA alumnus scoops prestigious award

usb alumni

  • DEC 16 2017
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

Nangula Kauluma, Managing Director of the Old Mutual Short-Term Insurance business in Namibia, was announced as the overall winner of the Namibian Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2017 at a gala banquet on Wednesday 18 October. She also won the corporate and private sector category.

 

These prestigious awards, organised by the Namibia Economist, celebrate the achievements of remarkable women and recognise the strides made by female leaders in various categories, including small business, community and government.

 

Kauluma, who grew up in Windhoek, has a degree in political science from Spelman College, Atlanta and an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. She gained extensive experience in sales, marketing and brand management at Air Namibia, Pfizer and the Namibia Tourism Board before joining Old Mutual 11 years ago as a corporate communications consultant.

 

Kauluma made the most of the many career development opportunities offered by Old Mutual and has held leadership roles in several business units, both in South Africa and Namibia. She has also played a key role in the strategic development and management of the Old Mutual brand across Africa, and been a strong driver of customer centricity and sustainability in business processes and practices.

 

She says she is “absolutely honoured” to receive this award. “I’m very grateful for the recognition of the toil, sacrifice, passion, resilience and determination that has gone into growing my career over 25 years,” she says. “From waiting on tables to helping to shape the business world for future female Namibian leaders, it’s been a long but rewarding road.”

 

Old Mutual Namibia CEO, Kosmas Egumbo, has high praise for the pivotal role Kauluma plays in leading the business.

 

“As Old Mutual we have been a part of the fabric of Namibian society for many years, and none of the great work that we do would be possible without our people. Leaders like Nangula deserve to be celebrated. Furthermore it is essential that we pay tribute to all the women who lead the growth of our businesses and our economy,” he says.

 

Desèré Lundon-Muller, partner and marketing manager at Namibia Economist, says, “We are proud to honour those who form the core of economic growth and contribute to the wellbeing of society.”

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Partnering to strengthen the social impact sector

AlumNet

Partnering to strengthen the social impact sector

  • OCT 27
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

Building on our collective passion and commitment to strengthen the social impact sector in South Africa, the Resource Alliance, USB and Nedbank Private Wealth are partnering to bring the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) Pop Ups back to USB on Thursday, 8 March with a fresh, new programme of fundraising inspiration and high-quality learning.

 

The one day workshop will include some of the best video sessions from IFC and IFC Asia 2017, giving local social impact leaders and fundraisers the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s brightest fundraising stars.

“Each IFC Pop Up is packed with energising, inspiring and enlightening video sessions, delivered by international fundraising experts. There will also be live Skype Q&A with some of the speakers, as well as a presentation by one of South Africa’s most successful fundraising teams – the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust,” says Sarah Scarth, the Resource Alliance’s Africa Director.

 

The IFC Pop Ups 2018 programme will also include sessions on major gift fundraising essentials; how philanthropy is changing in Europe and how to adapt; building a bequest programme from scratch; how to fundraise from US foundations; building a fundraising strategy in seven steps; how to use data to drive results; and lots more.

“The role and importance of the social sector for the well-being of our society is mostly under estimated. A sustainable society needs a strong social sector as much as effective government and thriving enterprises. Neglecting this, is to neglect the resilience and future sustainability of our society. It is therefore both a privilege and priority for USB to be a convening place and a source of education and empowerment for people governing, leading and managing social sector organisations.”
– Prof Arnold Smit, head of Social Impact at USB

The partnership between the Resource Alliance, University of Stellenbosch and USB goes back to 2015 when the organisations first met to discuss ways to help more non-profit or social impact organisations become financially sustainable, through the development of strong leadership and sound, innovative fundraising practice.  Over the last year the organisations have partnered to deliver the first IFC Pop Ups in March 2017 and the Great Fundraising Masterclass in September of the same year, which collectively were attended by just over 300 people.  Together with the University of Stellenbosch’s Advancement office, they’ve also helped established a national Higher Education Fundraising Forum and the Resource Alliance is an active participant on the advisory panel supporting the development of USB’s Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Development for Non-profit Organisations.

 

​“Social impact organisations make a substantial contribution to advancing the wellbeing of communities by protecting their rights, filling service delivery gaps, defending democracy, and protecting the environment to name a few.  They are also play an important role in our economy and employ thousands of people.  We are committed to helping to strengthen their ability to carry out their work in the most effective and efficient way and to make sure it continues for future generations,” says Sarah.

 

The cost to attend the IFC Pop Up is R990 which includes refreshments and lunch and there are discounts for those who book early.  Just use the promotional code EARLYBIRD when booking.  To find out more and to secure your seat, visit www.resource-alliance.org/events/south-africa-pop-ups/ 

 

Fascinating insights, stimulating discussion, and fabulous networking all await you at this year’s IFC Pop-Ups in South Africa. For more information contact Sarah Scarth at 021 761 4022 or email sarahs@resource-alliance.org​

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usb alumni

Launch of USB Lean-In Circle

AlumNet

Launch of USB Lean-In Circle

usb alumni

  • Tarina du Toit
  • AUG 31 2017
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

As part of a women’s month initiative, the USB Alumni is excited to announce that it is launching the Lean-In circles programme for the business school.  The Lean-In programme is a worldwide initiative started by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, with the aim of building a strong network that will provide like-minded women an opportunity to discuss workplace and life issues that they may experience. The Circles will provide women with insights about work-life and provide them with support so that they successfully navigate workplace environments. Such Circles form part of the shaping of great women leaders at USB.

 

At USB the Circles will be based on the global format but the topics covered will address local realities. We are hoping to attract a diverse set of women who can learn from each other and also promote greater understanding of Southern African gender workplace experiences. In this way USB women will become catalysts for change in our captivating country.

 

Meetings will take place on a monthly basis.  Women who are interested in joining the first Lean-In Circles programme should commit to attending at least 4 sessions. After establishing a process and format for the Circles on campus, we would like to experiment with Circles across South Africa, and perhaps in other parts of continent.

 

The following themes are identified for the first group:

• Meeting 1: Connection: (LAUNCH)

• Meeting 2: Power Hour

• Meeting 3: Centred Leadership – Meaning

• Meeting 4: Centred Leadership – Framing

• Meeting 5: Centred Leadership – Connecting

 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

Contact Tarina du Toit  (MBA, Pr.Sci.Nat)

E-mail: tarina@elim.mobi

_______________________________________

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innovative work

Local literacy initiative wins international award

AlumNet

Local literacy initiative wins international award

usb alumni

  • AUG 31 2017
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

The FunDza Literacy Trust, headed by USB alumnus Mignon Hardie,  is getting young South Africans reading! In recognition of its innovative work, it has been awarded the inaugural Joy of Reading Award 2017.

 

The award, sponsored by IT company Systematic, was presented to Mignon Hardie on 13 June at the Next Library Festival in Denmark, by HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who is also founder of the Reading & Writing Foundation.

 

Systematic developed the Joy of Reading award together with Next Library Festival to celebrate organisations making waves, through innovation, in the literacy field around the world. An international jury assessed the applications, selected the nominees, and then chose FunDza Literacy Trust as the winner!

 

Says Hardie: “We’re passionate about growing a local reading culture in South Africa. And we’re equally passionate about finding ways of giving our youth a platform so that their stories can be celebrated and shared.”

 

FunDza exists to address the dire impact that low literacy levels and the lack of a reading culture have on education and the future prospects of young South Africans. Research shows that the more that children have access to books and reading resources, the faster they acquire the language skills and vocabulary to excel at school, and in their professional lives. FunDza’s work focuses on promoting reading for pleasure among teens and young adults, to support creative problem-solving and critical thinking.

 

Hardie adds: “There is very unequal access to books in our country, as research by various institutions and most recently the SA Book Development Council shows. We need to get books and stories – particularly local stories that are meaningful and popular – into the hands of as many people as possible. This is where our ‘library on a phone’ is a game-changer.”

 

FunDza’s innovative mobile-friendly platform – its site at fundza.mobi, Android app – FunDzApp, and app on FreeBasics.com – connects young South Africans with home-grown stories of high appeal. While the technology is important to create access, what is perhaps more important are the stories that get readers hooked and keep them coming back for more. There is always something new to read with FunDza – whether a book, a short story, an article or blog, or user-created opinion pieces and poems.

 

In addition to its work online, FunDza has supported more than 400 reading groups around the country with accessible and entertaining print books. Since 2011, it has distributed around 100,000 books and 200,000 pocket booklets to reading groups countrywide.

 

FunDza hasn’t stopped innovating. It is now offering a variety of online reading and comprehension courses for learners and readers. It hosts several reading and writing workshops, and it has just launched a pilot to run writing clubs in Gauteng.

 

At the award ceremony in Aarhus, HRH Princess Laurentien explained why the judges selected FunDza as the winner. In particular the judges were impressed by FunDza’s scale of operations – reaching more than half a million people in the 2016 year – and also for its strong focus on promoting reading for pleasure, rather than just functional literacy.

 

In keeping with the spirit of the award, FunDza plans to use the $10,000 prize money to share the love of reading even further, with a number of promotions and activities planned to coincide with its ‘Literacy month’ in September 2017.

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