The Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) celebrated ‘Inspirational leaders who go beyond’ as the institution acknowledged another remarkable group of Master of Business Leadership (MBL), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Business Leadership (DBL) graduates in Midrand at its annual Graduation Awards Dinner. With a sumptuous meal, engaging speakers and entertainment from Tshidi Moholo of Malaika fame – the evening at Villa Tuscana was a great success and fitting recognition for years of dedication to academic advancement as students juggle the demands of work, study and family.
The business school acknowledged 22 Doctor of Business Leadership (DBL) graduates who received their degrees during the Spring 2018 and Autumn 2019 ceremonies. A further, 357 MBL and 67 MBA graduates also received their degrees during various graduation ceremonies between 10 – 12 June. At the gala graduation awards dinner, the Doctor of Business Leadership graduates, best research reports and leading students were recognised with special awards, with two additional special awards categories in Ethics and Supply Chain Management.
With the support of The Ethics Institute (TEI), three awards were presented in the Ethics award category recognising socially responsive research to build an ethically responsive society. The supply chain research category, sponsored by PANAvest International and Partners, recognised five students including ANC spokesperson Puleng Mabe. Mabe further gained the highest mark in the two-year MBL programme for his research report and was awarded MBL Best Research Report. In the three-year MBL programme, Nyaradzo Muputero received this honour.
Tongesai Chingwena received the Best Student award for the 2-year MBL Programme, saying, “Grit is what you need to get you through – but it is absolutely worth it. If many more business leaders in the SADC region completed the MBL, our business environment would be different and businesses would be expanding beyond what they are now.”
Commence Nkomo received the Best Student award for the 3-year MBL Programme. “This degree far exceeded my initial expectations. I have learnt so much and now have many things I would like to implement at my business, Schneider Electric.” The MBA Best Research Report went to Ismail Dada, while Nevlin Naidoo received the MBA Best Student award.
Dr Sabelo Xaba, Unisa SBL MBA graduate and medical doctor, gave an inspirational speech highlighting that nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. “In life, often the things that go wrong are the things that bring about change and lead to success. The achievements of every leader we’ve ever admired were a result of taking action when the odds were stacked up against them.” Xaba called on the graduates to be torchbearers for the next generation. “Learning is not over when we complete our qualifications. We have a moral duty to continue learning as this is the only way we can advance our nation. Africa needs business leaders who promote good governance, human rights, civil liberties and practice in an ethical manner. This responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders.”
Cristal Peterson, Unisa SBL Deputy Director: Communications and Marketing, in her opening address highlighted that there is room for positivity in a tough environment, saying true leaders can look beyond the doom and gloom. “We can be more hopeful about South Africa’s future and to avoid the trap of public pessimism. The fact is, South Africa, like the world, is a fundamentally better place as time progresses, and it is possible for business to grow here. From business, to government, to civil society, our graduates have the potential to create a ripple effect of informed positivity, accountability and action. No-one is more equipped than them to be able to address and harness the enablers of the future and proactively find solutions to the challenges that will define the next decade.”
Unisa Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya, spoke of the high expectations and lack of resilience of Millennials and Generation Z in a rapidly advancing world, saying that the ability to bounce back, taken for granted by our very own parents, needs to be reinculcated in our children and our students. “The world that these young people will be inheriting is precarious. Humankind is on the cusp of profound change – no-one knows what our world will look like even a mere decade from now and that is a very scary prospect when you have your entire life ahead of you. It is clear though, that it will be entrepreneurs - those who can stand on their own feet, who will be able to function most effectively in this scenario, and we therefore have to plan accordingly and prepare ourselves and our youth for this world.”
Makhanya said students need to have resilience and adaptability built into the fabric of their education, upbringing and mind-sets. “Multiskilling, flexitime and the ability to segue seamlessly from one position into another with little or no notice; a commitment to learning new skills for the rest of their lives; cultivating a mind-set that is amenable and responsive to change; and inculcating an entrepreneurial spirit, is what will ensure success.” He cited five skills, known as the Five Cs, that students need to acquire if they want to ensure they are equipped with the resilience and buoyancy needed to succeed: Composure; Confidence; Commitment; Control and Co-ordination, saying, “Unisa SBL is doing an excellent job of developing all of those capacities in our students, so that they can enter the world of business with confidence at a time when our world has little to offer by way of future clarity and certainty. We are very, very proud of that.”
His final message to the graduates was, “Be proud of your qualifications! As you move on either into a career, or further studies, carry the torch of Unisa with distinction, demonstrating in word and deed those characteristics and qualities that make Unisa graduates so unique. If you do so, I have no doubt you will succeed in your endeavours.”