Alumni News 2020

Matie shop goes online from 1 July 2021

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Matie shop goes online from 1 July 2021

  • 1 July,2021

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Stellenbosch University’s popular Matie Shop opened its online shop on Thursday, 1 July 2021, offering its whole range of SU-branded apparel, gifts and accessories.

“We are very excited to offer our customers this convenient way of shopping,” says Matie Shop’s newly appointed manager, Lara Cronje. “To celebrate this milestone, we will have exciting specials throughout July – so please watch this space.”

For Cronje, who joined Innovus three months ago, the opening of the online shop is the the culmination of careful planning and testing of the online commerce environment.

“Our team has been testing online sales for a while now, and there is a huge demand for our products to be available online – especially amongst our alumni, students that are studying remotely and the broader university community.”

“We receive a lot of queries from alumni living abroad, and hope to provide them with the opportunity to access all SU branded products from anywhere across the world in the near future as it will be a dream come true. In the meantime, local Maties can shop away!”

Apart from stocking SU products, residences and faculties will also have access to this online store to sell their branded SU merchandise through a central platform.

Visit Maties Shop online at www.matieshop.co.za for all your SU needs. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest specials.

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Reading List: Books to read by Dr Lize Barclay

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Reading List: Books to read by Dr Lize Barclay

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Source: Pixabay

  • June 21,2021

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Dr Lize Barclay, senior lecturer in Futures Studies and Systems Thinking, shares her top three books for systems and creative thinking.

  • Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows
  • The Firth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge
  • Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelly & Tom Kelly

Lize adds that the books of the author and academic Cal Newport are important to read by alumni and every person in the knowledge industry. She suggests the following:

  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You – about the importance of deliberate practice and being really good at something, but it might not necessarily be your passing.
  • Deep Work – about ensuring time for uninterrupted diligent thinking and working and why it is critically important for knowledge workers.
  • Digital Minimalism – why it is essential to walk, think and curate our digital consumption, especially pertaining social media.
  • A World Without Email – alternatives to dealing with the “hyperactive hive mind” that our environment has become.

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'An Incurable African Optimist'

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‘An Incurable African Optimist’

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Source: Jopwell; Pexel

  • June 21,2021
  • Tags Graduation, Top Achievers, Graduates, Alumni, Success, Responsible leaders

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‘An Incurable African Optimist’

By Dr Isa Omagu, MDevF alumnus

The journey to the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and through the rest of Africa from the sundry perspectives of about 45 original classmates on the MPhil in Development Finance (MDevF) programme from 16 African countries, USA and Japan began with a business networking at the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce (N-SACC) breakfast meeting early 2007 where USB representatives led by Professor Eltie Links made a presentation about the business school.

It was a meeting that was ultimately beneficial for both personal and professional development given the exposure to the profound curriculum of the development finance programme and the top-notch faculty and the quality of classmates that I was fortunate to be matched with. The major motivation for the programme was the need to understand concepts of development and hopefully obtain empirical evidence and theoretical framework that can be used to address the myriad of development issues facing Africa, with emphasis on Nigeria and the financing of infrastructural gaps, a major driver of development.

The learning outcomes from exposures to the development finance curriculum are still properly situated in my mind and would be deployed in an executive capacity at sub-national and national levels in due season. Africa is still rising and a competent, knowledgeable and committed set of Africans are required urgently to birth the rise in the shortest possible time. Alumni of the business school, especially the development finance programme are wired to play an active role in the rising Africa narrative.

2024 vision

In 2014 I saw myself being very involved in teaching and consulting by 2024 as well as in policymaking and implementation at national and global levels. This is panning out gradually to the glory of God with the recent award to me of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Entrepreneurship by Babcock University (BU) after about four years and nine months of combining a very hectic work schedule and thought PhD programme culminating in a successful thesis’ defence on May 26, 2021.

Before the start of the PhD programme and through most of it, I was the chairperson of the USB Alumni Exco, chairperson of the USB Alumni Association for West Africa and a member of USB Advisory Board until I voluntarily relinquished the roles in February 2019 to focus on a new career opportunity as Chief Operating Officer of Glo Mobile Ghana after over two decades in banking with the last banking role being as General Manager of Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria and Non-Executive Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Sierra Leone.

During my tenure as chairperson of USB Alumni Exco, the Alumni Association played a very strong role in the reaccreditation exercises that entrenched the University of Stellenbosch Business School as a top-rated business school with the prestigious triple-crown accreditations, affirming it as a truly world-class business school in Africa that we are very proud of.

PhD and bank innovation

My PhD in Entrepreneurship thesis was titled, Bank Innovation Capability and Performance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria with the main objective being the evaluation of the effect of bank innovation capability dimensions (product, process, open, marketing and organisational innovations) on the performance of SMEs in Nigeria, including the investigation of the effect of government policy on the relationship between bank innovation capability and SMEs’ performance.

The study concluded that bank innovation capability affects the performance of SMEs in Nigeria. The study recommended that deposit money banks in Nigeria should increase their innovation capability towards SMEs and engage them to adopt the resulting innovative output while governments at all levels should create the enabling environment and strategically implement bank-SMEs’ related policies to enhance the overall performance of SMEs in Nigeria. This study can be further extended to the rest of Africa and to include longitudinal survey research design to capture the dynamics of bank innovation practices and overall SMEs performance measures such as competitive advantage, market share, profitability, firm growth and sales volume.

Overall, the journey so far has been very exciting with the business school and lately, BU, being key enablers in the projection of my personae for the next phase of my life’s journey as a major participant in ensuing Africa still rising narrative. I am and will be, because the University of Stellenbosch Business School and other great and proudly African institutions are, truly!

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Saying goodbye after nine years at USB’s Small Business Academy (SBA)

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Saying goodbye after nine years at USB’s Small Business Academy (SBA)

  • June, 21 2021
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By Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener, founder of SBA

It is with wonderful memories and a deep appreciation of the resilient spirit of small-business owners that I left the Small Business Academy (SBA) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School at the end of March this year.

At the time of the founding of the SBA in 2012, there was agreement that the business school should get involved in the training of small-business owners, given the critical role that micro, small and medium-sized (SMMEs) enterprises play in the economy of South Africa. The establishment of the academy came about after a long process of consultation and negotiation with Stellenbosch University and other stakeholders. Crucial in these conversations were the business community and business forums in Khayelitsha, which is the largest township in Cape Town, and corporate companies close to the business school’s campus.

The aim with the SBA was therefore to give life to USB’s vision to have a meaningful impact in society. The business school has always strived to expand its social engagement and to make a difference in the lives and businesses of small-business owners in low-income communities. The founding of the academy allowed the school the opportunity to make a difference by leveraging its core competency, namely business education.

The start: Great expectations

The SBA was officially opened by the late Rector of Stellenbosch University, Prof Russel Botman, who strongly supported the establishment of the academy. The SBA launch formed part of a gala event of USB alumni in Cape Town in May 2012. Prof Botman, Prof Johann de Villiers (the then Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences), Prof John Powell (the then Director of USB), Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener (the then marketing director of USB), Luvuyo Rani (well-known entrepreneur from Khayelitsha), and USB MBA student Bongani Mgayi all played key roles in turning this vision into a reality.

Next, the SBA had to design a programme that would be suitable for small-business owners with existing businesses. The target market would be people who had a matric certificate and who owned a business in a low-income area. After a thorough investigation of the training and mentorship programmes on offer in the Western Cape, it was found that start-ups and incubators were already receiving a significant amount of attention.

The focus would be the training and mentorship of this group of entrepreneurs.

At the time, various foreign foundations and foreign governments were also involved in training and mentorship for entrepreneurs. However, a specific need was identified in terms of the development of small-business owners with existing businesses. Therefore, the target market was defined as small-business owners in low-income communities. The focus would be the training and mentorship of this group of entrepreneurs. As the need for a business development programme was identified in collaboration with the people of Khayelitsha, a decision was taken to start with a programme aimed at the small-business owners of Khayelitsha, and then expand to other low-income areas.

The first group of small-business owners from this township started with their training in March 2013.

The first group of small-business owners from this township started with their training in March 2013. From 2014 onwards, the catchment area of the SBA Development Programme was expanded, with the academy also enrolling participants from other areas in Cape Town’s Metro South-East, such as Langa, Gugulethu, Blue Downs, Philippi, Delft, Mfuleni, Strandfontein and Mitchells Plain. In 2021, the SBA presented its ninth programme in the Western Cape.

Breaking new ground: Two programmes off-campus

In June 2016, I, as head of the SBA, received an unexpected visit from senior public sector officials from the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Ayanda Gqoboka, chief executive officer of the Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency (JoGEDA), saw an advertisement for the SBA Development Programme in South African Airways’ inflight magazine Sawubona. He thought that the programme offered by the business school was worth investigating and made an appointment to discuss a similar programme for the district municipality in the Eastern Cape. The main aim of JoGEDA is to stimulate economic growth in the Joe Gqabi District Municipality in the Eastern Cape on behalf of the region’s five local municipalities.

In late 2016, this led to the launch of the SBA Development Programme in the Eastern Cape.

In late 2016, this led to the launch of the SBA Development Programme in the Eastern Cape. The programme’s curriculum was the same as in the Western Cape, but a few adjustments had to be made because the delivery had to take place in Aliwal North, a smallish town in the Eastern Cape, almost a thousand kilometres from Cape Town. The distance between Cape Town and this rural part of South Africa meant that lecturers and the mentorship team had to fly to the closest city, namely Bloemfontein, and then travel by car for about 200 kilometres to reach Aliwal North. Mentors – typically USB alumni – were not as readily available, and at the start of the programme, senior mentors from the Western Cape had to travel up-country. Over time, more mentors came on board, including a few top students from the SBA programme itself.

Senior officials from Stellenbosch University have often expressed the wish to also offer an SBA Development Programme in the town of Stellenbosch itself. In 2020, the Social Impact Division of the university decided to fund a separate programme for the town. Stellenbosch Network and Distell, with its head office in Stellenbosch, joined hands in the initiative, and the first SBA programme started running in Stellenbosch in March 2021. Stellenbosch Network is a cross-sector and inter-disciplinary membership organisation that brings people from industry, government, society, and academia together to share ideas and encourage collaboration and partnership in support of economic growth for the greater Stellenbosch area.

Curriculum design: Balancing the requirements of authorities and the needs of participants

The SBA Development Programme was designed to develop small-business owners, to help ensure that their businesses are sustainable, and to assist them to grow these businesses.

An important drawcard for prospective participants of the SBA Development Programme was that they would ‘graduate’ with a certificate from Stellenbosch University. Therefore, care was taken to design a programme that would be in line with all the requirements of, firstly, the business school, secondly, Stellenbosch University, and thirdly, the Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) in South Africa. That is why USB’s SBA Development Programme is accredited by the HEQC of the Council on Higher Education under the auspices of Stellenbosch University. Also playing a significant role in the development of the programme were Edith Kennedy (the then head of stakeholder relations at USB) and Prof Salomé van Coller-Peter (the then head of the MPhil in Management Coaching at USB).

The programme is registered as a short course with Stellenbosch University and provides flexible learning to meet the specific needs of owners of micro and small businesses. The programme is offered in week-long blocks to meet the needs of adult learners, enabling them to develop leadership skills (personal level) and managerial, business and entrepreneurship skills (enterprise level). The SBA participants’ ages typically range from 24 years to over 60 years.

The SBA Development Programme comprises the following elements:

  • Training: The subjects covered are Business Essentials, Marketing, Finance, and Business Plan Development, Writing and Presentation. Computer Skills also receive attention. At the end of the programme, participants need to present their business plans to a panel of academics, sponsors, businesspeople, and public sector officials.
  • Mentoring: Alumni of the business school and the SBA act as pro bono mentors for participants on the programme. The alumni – all volunteers – are matched with participants to provide support and guidance. Mentors help the participants understand the challenges and opportunities in their businesses, and together they find solutions for the businesses to grow and expand. The mentorship part of the programme has been identified as a key pillar and one of the main reasons for the success of the programme.
  • Workshops: Practical workshops are offered by role models and volunteers to match the needs and expectations of participants. Topics cover access to funding, how to pitch for a government contract, how to register a business, insurance for a small business, customer service, marketing tips, and understanding black economic empowerment (BEE).
  • Student engagement: Master’s level international students on study visits to USB assist the small-business owners with various aspects of their businesses. The visiting international students also offer workshops on topics such as the use of social media.

It has become widely accepted that the staff, senior students and/or alumni of institutions of higher learning also become involved in social impact initiatives of the institution. This also applies to USB, where staff, alumni and students have expressed a keen interest to help emerging entrepreneurs tackle the many obstacles and challenges they face during the expansion phase of their businesses.

Expanding the SBA’s activities: Adding research and alumni development

In 2015, the SBA started a research initiative to feed new knowledge into the ecosystem of sponsors, small-business communities, and other stakeholders. The impact of the SBA programme on participants is measured, and the results are incorporated in impact reports. The mentorship experiences of mentors and mentees (participants) are also tracked.

The research done by faculty and students has been reworked into accessible outputs (facts sheets), offering practical advice to small entrepreneurs.

Research on the SBA is also undertaken by USB’s faculty members and PhD, MBA, and MPhil in Management Coaching students. Focus areas under the bigger umbrella of small-business development in Southern Africa include the benefits of mentorship of small businesses, factors stimulating growth in small businesses, the training and mentorship needs of small-business owners, factors contributing to the success of small and micro businesses, and the challenges facing these businesses. The research done by faculty and students has been reworked into accessible outputs (facts sheets), offering practical advice to small entrepreneurs.

The SBA also established the SBA Growth Initiative to offer continuous development opportunities to the academy’s alumni. This need – to not ‘abandon’ participants once they have completed the programme – soon became a requirement of sponsors and others. The annual SBA Outreach Day, held on the campus of the business school in the Tyger Valley business district in Cape Town, provides SBA participants and alumni with the opportunity to showcase their products and services, listen to experts, and attend practical workshops and network with members of the SBA ecosystem. The Outreach Day has indeed become a highlight in the calendars of SBA participants and alumni. During the year, workshops, masterclasses, advanced training, mentorship sessions and networking form part of the Growth Initiative offering.

Partnering: Working with sponsors and other stakeholders

The activities of the Small Business Academy are made possible through sponsorships from large corporate businesses, and funding from the public sector and Stellenbosch University.

For five years, I was head of both the SBA and USB’s Marketing Division. (After this, I was head of the SBA and a member of USB’s academic staff). Having worked in the industry before, I had access to senior people at large businesses, many of whom I knew personally. This was the starting point to discuss the new academy and to look for funding for the first SBA Development Programme in the Western Cape. Over the years, I was fortunate to secure close to R15 million for the SBA. In return, we offered benefits to the sponsors, such as seats on the SBA Steering Committee, branding rights of venues in the main building on the USB campus, and the opportunity to offer workshops to SBA participants. The key benefit for companies forming a partnership with the SBA and sponsoring the programme remains the ability to earn points under the Enterprise Development section of their B-BBEE scorecards.

If one looks deeper, the employees of these businesses, their families and their communities have also benefitted.

In 2013, the SBA Development Programme in the Western Cape turned into a reality as a result of the interest voiced by two large anchor sponsors, Distell and Absa, to become involved in the academy and the Development Programme itself. In 2021, the programme entered its ninth year, with almost 300 small-business owners having benefitted from the programme and the larger SBA initiative over the years. If one looks deeper, the employees of these businesses, their families and their communities have also benefitted.

Ayanda Gqoboka of JoGEDA concluded that the SBA’s programme would be suitable to develop small-business owners in the Joe Gqabi District Municipality in rural Eastern Cape. That is how public sector sponsor JoGEDA became involved as an SBA sponsor and partner in the Eastern Cape. In 2021, the SBA Development Programme was presented in the Eastern Cape for the fifth time.

The third SBA Development Programme, which was presented to small-business owners from the university town of Stellenbosch for the first time in 2021, is funded by Stellenbosch University and Distell.

Over the years, a number of these small businesses have become suppliers to corporate and public sector sponsors.

The sponsors become involved in the lives and businesses of the small business owners. Over the years, a number of these small businesses have become suppliers to corporate and public sector sponsors. One of these small-business owners, Bomikazi Nkolongwane, provided media and public relations services to JoGEDA. Another SBA alumnus, Rushana Charles, expanded her business and is now involved in online learning at USB. (After completing the SBA Development Programme, Rushana also completed USB’s Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration as well as MBA.)

Sponsors need to demonstrate to their boards of directors the impact of the SBA Development Programme on participants. The need for proper impact reporting has therefore become a key feature of the partnerships. Another expectation of the sponsors is involvement in the programme. Therefore, sponsors are involved in the academy in the following ways: They act as guest speakers during modules, they form part of the panels assessing the participants’ business plans, they present workshops, and they sit on the SBA Steering Committee.

Governance: Working with the SBA Steering Committee

The SBA Steering Committee functions as the governing body of the academy. This committee has no executive authority, but its role is to provide leadership and advice to the SBA management team. Members of the committee represent various stakeholders, including sponsors, business forums in the township areas of Cape Town, USB management, students and alumni, and SBA lecturers, administrators and alumni.

The road ahead

In April 2021, Dr Armand Bam, head of Social Impact at USB, became the new head of the SBA. Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener is still involved at USB as a part-time faculty member, lecturing in Reputation Management, Marketing and Communication, and supervising PhD and MBA students.

Find more information on USB’s Small Business Academy at www.usb.ac.za/small-business-academy/

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Reflecting, Re-imagining and Relevance through technology

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Reflecting, Re-imagining and Relevance through technology

Alt text: Student in yellow shirt using vr headset
Source: Julia M Cameron

  • June 21,2021
  • Tags Graduation, Top Achievers, Graduates, Alumni, Success, Responsible leaders

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By Nompumelelo Mokou, Alumnus of the Year 2020: Business Leadership

When I embarked on the MBA in 2016, I yearned for new knowledge and validation of my views on strategies that build legacy organisations. At the time I had read Halftime by Bob Buford which compelled me to wrestle with myself, reflect on who I believe I am, striving to be relevant in all I do and find meaning in my daily activities. This MBA experience was far richer and more rewarding than I imagined because not only did I attain my goals but my personal life improved. This new world of engagement, knowledge, self-introspection and discipline propels relevance.

The same can be said for many businesses who had planned capital intensive projects, new office spaces, lengthy digital transformation strategies and intermittent pivots to new technologies before the global pandemic. Although most businesses were familiar with operating in uncertainty, drank the VUCA soda and aligned to inevitable change, most were not prepared for remote work, contactless engagement, heighten focus on employee experience and inadequate service delivery models. Most companies who had just embarked on digital transformation had to accelerate critical impactful aspects of digitisation quickly enabling remote work, reduce of office space, reimagine service delivery and reflect on their strategies. I consider relevance a key business pillar for survival and continuation especially when customers continually rethink their needs and low spending capacity.

The foundations of business are centred on its ability to be relevant primarily to its customers, employees, shareholders, community, industry peers, government, global business and investors. We always cite Kodak, Blockbuster, and Thompsons Travel as classic examples of businesses that delayed their pivots and were rendered irrelevant. The relevance economy is impacting what we eat, how we entertain, fashion (practical vs fancy) and wellness. In addition to this, companies and people, in general, have more discretion in how funds are spent or invested depending on necessities, critical projects and longer-term impact.

Living in times of the global pandemic is not only historical but it shone the spotlight on the relevance economy carried by technology.

Living in times of the global pandemic is not only historical but it shone the spotlight on the relevance economy carried by technology. Several technology companies Amazon, Microsoft and Zoom tripled their market capital and financial performance within six months. The technology disruptors and born-in-the-cloud start-ups took up space to deliver needed services. The NTT 2021 Future Disrupted report emphasises that digital transformation in all sectors is imperative and not a choice. The implementation of 5G in China enabled real-time monitoring of the spread of Covid-19, hot-zone demarcations, analysis of data to predict the movement of people and containment of the virus where possible. Companies like Zoom and Microsoft saw a massive increase in the uptake of video call applications enabling remote work, remote engagements and remote learning. Platforms like Udemy and Degreed also realised increased volumes with increased interest in online learning. In South Africa, companies like OneCart, Zulzi and Sixty60 took the market by storm riding on perfect timing, relevant platforms and the use of contactless technology. Lego reimagined its longevity through digitisation.

A McKinsey Covid-19 Briefing note titled, Making the most of the great reset, emphasises the need to assemble an approach at a personal and business level that recaptures what we had before Covid-19 whilst reflecting on lessons learnt during Covid-19. The term “New Normal” has evolved to “Next normal” as the different waves and variants challenge us to be prepared for inevitable change, practically. An interesting thought ruminates in my mind especially amidst high unemployment rates, an unequal society, need for new skills and uncertainty; what would happen if 40% of the youth in Africa invest in learning code, programming, robotics, data science, next-generation networking and connectivity (just to name a few). What impact will these new-age skills have on our society, Africa’s economy, our public sector digitisation acceleration, improved infrastructure and global competitiveness? What impact would this have in access to wealth, transforming education, increase new local technologies e.g. M-Pesa and perhaps a localised block chain platform to mitigate corruption and fraud?

Africa is a melting pot of opportunity, we can reimagine continental relevance.

Technology enables us to reflect and reimagine the endless possibilities when we rebalance the scale by pursuing relevance instead of aid. During our Economics lectures, we spent time pontificating about the root causes of a regressing economy when considering education, lack of key skills, unionised labour, changing operating models in manufacturing and mining and high reliance on imports. These discussions tendered to end with exploring opportunities that the largest population of youth in the globe could open. Africa is a melting pot of opportunity, we can reimagine continental relevance.

The NTT Predictions 2021 Report for CIOs, CEOs and Board of Directors states that resetting business strategies is primarily based on the duration of the disruption and behavioural change. Initially, the various scenarios that mapped pandemic disruptions estimated a six-month impact on the economy, business activity and productivity. At the time, there were no scenarios considering the existence of a second nor the third wave of infections with complex virus variations. The possibility of producing a vaccine was laughable, but technology and new information enabled this production within 12 months – a great historic achievement. Industry verticals are disrupted as new behaviours develop.

Education

My MBA thesis was focused on understanding what influences student preference to enrol in courses that incorporate e-learning. This topic was inspired by the “Fees must fall” campaign which alerted society that the high cost of higher education excludes the poor thus perpetuating social ills and poverty. I wanted to understand if e-learning could reduce the cost of higher education thereby increasing student access to higher education. My study focused on postgraduate studies like the MBA although some can argue that the costs of an MBA are synonymous with its prestige. As the education sector resets and reimagines, online learning and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are the next normal. These would not replace on-campus studies but augment the learning experience whilst in certain cases can be enhanced with the introduction of gaming and virtual reality.

Airlines

The industry is capital intensive due to significant physical assets as well as associated operating and maintenance costs. The tech industry introduced infrastructure opex and consumptive models to curb the burden of physical assets and anticipated diminished spent. Operating models like Uber and Airbnb largely operate through an opex model which leases someone else physical asset for customer benefit thereby pocket the market engagement facilitation fees. The airline industry can reimagine its relevance, predicting customer travel through data analytics and retain market share through new commercial models. The ability of airlines to consolidate, significantly reduce operating cost, renegotiate charges from airspace and airport regulators could enable them to pivot.

Government

The connected customer or digital citizen requires seamless public service delivery. South Africa, like many countries, is rolling out inoculation across various provinces. Global leading examples are Turku Finlan and Services Australia who used composable technologies to deliver citizen value through pandemic response measures. Turku used algorithms to optimise vehicle routing for food delivery by creating cohorts through the availability of data. Services Australia used digital assistants to orchestrate fast response thus significantly increasing citizen value. Successful governments are those that use clear, transparent data to navigate and optimise scarce resources.

Gartner CEO Survey 2020 quotes Alibaba Group CEO saying, despite uncertainties the world is moving toward digital-first and digital-everything. Even as a chartered accountant, I recognise the power and relevance of technology. My MBA journey enabled me to pivot leaving the audit profession in pursuit of a career in the technology industry. Like many organisations, Dimension Data is reflecting, reimaging and reviewing strategy to become relevant to our clients, employees, communities, shareholders and investors. After 40 years we are still optimistic as we strive for the next 100 years spearheaded by technology.

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Using my MBA to benefit society

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Using my MBA to benefit society

Alt text: Two women in front of laptop helping each other
Source: Christina Morillo; Pexel

  • June 20,2021
  • Tags Graduation, Top Achievers, Graduates, Alumni, Success, Responsible leaders

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By Salma Seedat, Alumnus of the Year 2020: Social Impact

Throughout my MBA, I connected strongly with the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s mission of developing responsible leaders through transformative learning so that they have a positive impact on society. So much so that my research assignment delved into the transformative learning experiences of my peers in the MBA and the extent to which these helped them develop their awareness and involvement in responsible leadership within their communities and their careers. The engagement with international organisations, which was facilitated through the MBA MIO stream, further cemented this idea that we can create business structures that put societal benefit at the core of their models.

I am particularly interested in the creation of income generation opportunities for women, particularly in an African context…

On graduating, my focus shifted to how I can use the knowledge and skills I had attained throughout my career and during my MBA to benefit society. I am particularly interested in the creation of income generation opportunities for women, particularly in an African context, as a means of alleviating poverty and contributing to the creation of an equitable society. I was invited to join the Steering Committee of the South African chapter of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) which focuses on propelling entrepreneurship in emerging economies. The South African chapter specifically helps small and growing businesses (SGBs) by offering financial, educational, and business support services to ensure that SGBs can create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and societal benefits in their areas of influence. My role is to help the Chapter with its strategic direction, particularly in their key focus areas relating to gender equality and entrepreneurial approaches to environmental action.

I am also a Board Member of the pan-African network, [email protected], which focuses on developing the impact investing ecosystem in Africa through facilitating collaborative efforts between ecosystem stakeholders aimed at addressing the key barriers to impact investing in Africa. I was the Chairperson of the network during its conception phase and now play a key role in contributing to the strategy of the network to ensure that we can make significant inroads towards creating a thriving environment that attracts impact investments that have both social and environmental benefits for the continent. We are in the process of finalising a multi-pronged initiative that includes developing social venture funds on MBA campuses around the continent to help groom the next generation of local African impact investment fund managers.

Lastly, I am part of an international board of advisors for Primary Care International (PCI), a UK-based social enterprise working to strengthen primary healthcare globally, with a particular focus on the health workforce. I was part of the group that helped PCI develop their social investment campaign as they gear up to develop the capacity of 25 000 healthcare workers by 2025. The organisation focuses on filling critical gaps in primary health care systems in low and middle-income countries, including at the nexus of Non-Communicable Diseases and Covid-19.

This aligns strongly with my current position as Director: Contracts, Grants and Compliance (CCG) & Special Initiatives at BroadReach, a health development company that focuses on strengthening health systems across the globe using innovative technology. In this role, I am responsible for the governance and ethical compliance of our organisation towards the use of public funds for societal benefit.

As an ambassador of the USB, I aim to share my experience, knowledge, and skills with current and potential students, as well as alumni of the university.

As an ambassador of the USB, I aim to share my experience, knowledge, and skills with current and potential students, as well as alumni of the university. I have a structured mentorship agreement with five young women and guide them through their leadership development journeys. In addition, I lecture on strategic leadership for both the MBA MIO stream as well as the PGDip in Leadership Development, and I participate as a guest speaker on various platforms focusing on responsible leadership and strategy development for NGOs and small businesses.

But life is not just about careers and work, and I enjoy hiking regularly with my family, exploring the culinary delights that Cape Town has to offer with my friends, and playing video games with my teenage sons! I truly believe that the strong connection with family and community helps me to be a better leader in the workplace.

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Business school honours top-performing students of 2020/2021

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Business school honours top-performing students of 2020/2021

  • May 19,2021
  • Tags Graduation, Top Achievers, Graduates, Alumni, Success, Responsible leaders

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The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) would like to congratulate all the top-performing students on being named the Top Achievers of 2020/2021. The announcement was recently made by Prof Mark Smith, Director-Elect of the business school.

He said: “These outstanding achievements speak of making sacrifices, meeting challenges and the perseverance to see things through. We are sure that these efforts will reward you well and hope that you can apply what you have learnt to help create value for a better world. We wish you every success on your chosen career path. We are proud to call you an alumnus of the University of Stellenbosch Business School.”

The complete list of award winners are:

USB Director’s Award:
Nompumelelo Zakithi Takalani

Prof Prieur du Plessis Award for the Top MBA Student :
Michelle Beukes

Best Research Assignment in any Master’s Degree:
Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr

Top Student: Postgraduate Diploma in Futures Studies
Martha Tzellios

Dr Morne Mostert Award for a Futures Studies-related PhD in Business Management and Administration:
Dr Grethe Steenkamp

Top Students: Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning
Hannah Paige Myburgh

Top student: Postgraduate Diploma in Development Finance
Linda  Oniwe

Top student: Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Development
Nompumelelo Zakithi Takalani

Top student: Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Development (NPO)
Elelwani Tshamaano Mainganye

Best Research Assignment in any Master’s Degree
Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr

Top student: Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management
Mia Barnard

Top student: Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration
Karishma Bhoolia

Top student: MPhil in Futures Studies
Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr

Top student: MPhil in Management Coaching
Sonja Cilliers

Top student: MPhil in Development Finance
Bahati Sanga

Top students: MBA
Léander Steynberg
Leana Kotze
Michelle Beukes
Bernard Swart

I feel humbled and grateful to God to be a USB Top Achiever. My task ahead is to use the acquired knowledge to refocus my career on development financing and make a positive impact on society. Despite the challenges of COVID pandemic, it is important to keep learning rather than settle on despair with wait-and-see attitude. – Bahati Sanga

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