Henley Business School Africa is to launch a brand-new Post Graduate Diploma (PGDip) in management practice later this year. Called the Plus Africa PG Dip, the course will prepare its graduates to make the most of business opportunities on the continent. It is accredited as a qualification at level 8 on the National Qualifications Framework.
As Dr Janet Brumme, the head of open accredited programmes at the school explains, the new PGDip builds on the current acclaimed PGDip’s structure adding both an African immersion segment and an MBA-lite block, while drawing deeply upon African perspectives using African faculty discussing African case studies.
Immersion learning or FIRE (Full Immersion Reality Education) is a well-known component of the PGDip programme, conceptualised and driven by adjunct faculty member Louise Claassen. Claassen in fact will be taking the lead in facilitating the inaugural Plus Africa PGDip course this year precisely because of this and her passion for Africa.
Ironically the current lockdown in South Africa will have little or no effect on the course, because students don’t actually have to travel into the continent to visit cases studies because of the work that Claassen already put in throughout last year pioneering virtual reality in the classroom.
This coupled to Henley Africa’s successful transition to 100% virtual learning in March before the implementation of the national quarantine means that the year-long course can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world – all you need is a passion to want to know more about doing business on the African continent.
When the travel restrictions do lift, the intention is to provide a blended learning experience, adding a country immersion as a seventh block to the existing 23-contact-day programme held over six blocks, with students visiting one of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Ethiopia. Each one of these immersions will be filmed and added to the impressive virtual reality library that Henley Africa is building for future students.
The PGDip, a popular and critical stepping-stone on the journey to the flagship MBA degree, is a significant stand-alone qualification in its own right says Brumme. The SAQA equivalent of an honour’s degree, the PGDip blends theory with practice and bridges the divide between the academic rigour expected in an undergraduate degree and the high-level rigour of an MBA.
“The PGDip is for individuals with a few years' management experience, who are keen to progress in their careers through a structured learning process that is directly related to them – and where they are on their journey. It is for people who want their thinking challenged, and pushed – people looking for a new beginning.”
Students are drawn from a very diverse pool; managers from across the business sector find themselves sharing classes with journalists, comedians and creatives, and are taught management theories that they then have to take back to the workplace to test for themselves. They literally earn while they learn.
“The old saying is that what we learn is best remembered by the ‘doing’ and experimenting,” says Brumme, “the PGDip is all about experimenting. The students bring’s their context to the learning programme and it is this dynamic fusion that creates the magic”
It’s a tough course, some students say that it’s even tougher than the MBA that about two thirds of them will go on to study at Henley.
“Our assessment process is rigorous – so there are no short cuts to either the learning or the pushing of boundaries and establishing new learning frontiers,” says Brumme.
“The PGDip has a reputation for being the stepping-stone because it is a transitional programme, it shifts you from a degree mindset to a more transformational, more forward thinking and more innovative mindset. That’s what we are trying to achieve especially now where we are looking to give people the new skills they need in a very different and dynamic world situation.”
A key part of that toolbox of skills is being introduced to system thinking which is an entire module in the PGDip programme.
“It gets you to look at things and frame them very differently, so instead of taking a traditional perspective, you turn the whole world upside down and reimagine yourself within it and ask how you are going to make a difference,” she explains.
“That’s what we are always looking for, asking how can we empower our students and enable them to make a contribution.”
Introspection plays a large role in the process, she says.
“We ask students to look at themselves and as ‘what am I doing what I’m doing? Where does this come from? Why does it motivate me? And then to ask “how do I create new habits? How do I stop doing what’s getting in my way of getting ahead?”
For Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, there’s never been a more important time to invest in yourself and to enrol in a programme like the PG Dip.
“The world we enter after the lockdown is lifted will be dramatically different to the one we left. How we deal with that will depend on the choices we make now. Learning to think differently, learning to adapt to uncertainty and make reality your friend, will be the hardest tasks any of us can undertake, mastering them though will give us the easiest – and safest – map on a journey none of us have ever made.”
Enrolment for the Plus Africa PGDip closes in June. There are still places open for the next classes of the standard PGDip programme beginning in May. If you are interested please go to https://www.henleysa.ac.za/postgraduate-diploma-in-management-practice-pgdip/
for further details.