Henley Business School Africa will be conferring degrees and diplomas on a record number of graduates this month – in a virtual ceremonies that will run over two and half weeks starting on Monday November 23.
It promises to be a logistical spectacle matched only by the business school’s seamless transition to a virtual education platform the week before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lockdown on March 26 this year.
“It’s quite amazing,” says Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, “that 10 years ago our graduation took a single afternoon and we capped eight MBA graduates. Last year we broke all our records graduating a phenomenal 943 students, 233 of them MBA graduates, over three days.”
This year the number is even higher at a total of 1273 graduates with a special extra day set aside for the executive education cohort.
“This has been a year of incredible challenges because of the COVID 19 crisis,” says Foster-Pedley, “which our faculty and our students have taken on with incredible aplomb and success – surpassing all our expectations. I am immensely proud of each and every one of them.”
The business school has risen to the challenge, partnering with PrivySeal, a tech company founded by South African attorney Stephen Logan, to ensure that all certificates, diplomas and degrees are not just digitally certified but instantly verifiable against Henley’s graduate database.
It’s just another way the school has innovated in 2020, responding to a world where deep fakes and fraud are increasingly the norm.
“Strong digital credentials give prospective employers and clients the confidence that someone has the experience and knowledge that they claim,” says Foster-Pedley. “Henley’s triple-accredited international qualifications are in high demand worldwide and we are making sure that nobody can claim to have them unless they have earned them.”
Other innovations this year include the introduction of the Advanced Diploma in Management Practice in March; the final rung in Henley’s unique ladder of learning which lets students progress from NQF level 5 to the executive MBA at NQF level 9, earning while they learn. The business school also designed short courses for agricultural leadership, helping subsistence farmers transition into commercial farmers; as well as providing short courses on resilience; webinars on SME management; and, developed brand new PG Diploma programmes for medical professionals and African entrepreneurs using patented cutting edge immersive remote learning techniques.
The school also increased its number of scholarships in 2020 to 31, the most of any business school in Africa, when it awarded its latest one to world cup winning Springbok legend Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira as part of its continued drive for inclusivity and diversity in its student body as well as a desire to help sports start successfully pivot from the change room to the boardroom at the end of their sporting careers.
Perhaps the innovation Foster-Pedley is most excited about is the opening of Henley Africa’s Cape Town campus. Planned before the lockdown as part of Henley Africa’s continued expansion, the bespoke Brickfield Canvas site in Woodstock is currently in use for the business school’s ongoing executive education programmes with major corporate clients based in the Mother City, but will shortly become available for Henley Africa’s other programmes offered in Johannesburg and virtually.
“We have always practiced what we teach in our classrooms; the need to be agile, to respond to situations and develop solutions that benefit all our stakeholders; students, faculty, clients and community,” he says. “2020 has been a trying year for the entire world in so many ways, but in retrospect it has been a phenomenal year for Henley Africa and everything we stand for.”