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MBA Summer School - times are changing!

A record number of 190 MBA students recently attended the North-West University Business School’s first ever virtual Summer Study School. Prof Jan van Romburgh, the newly appointed chief director of the Business School, welcomed the students and colleagues and emphasised the importance of a mutualistic relationship moving forward in 2021.

During Prof Van Romburg’s welcoming address, he asked: “Why this business school?” He outlined a few key factors that make this business school unique. “We produce a quality that everyone can be proud of, it is an internationally accredited business school and we can be proud that we do not chase numbers. The year 2021 showed an increase of 70% in our numbers, but replacing the quality for quantities of MBA’s is not of importance to our school. For us, this is important to have that personal relationship with our students and were quality and personal contact is of utmost importance,” Prof Van Romburgh said.

In 2020, the NWU Business School was fortunate to be recognised as a separate entity from the NWU’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. This means, from an operational perspective, that the Business School is seen as a faculty.

The annual summer school creates an environment for MBA students to learn from the best experts in the field. Within these changing times, people are relying increasingly on technology - the virtual summer school makes it possible to have guest lectures from every corner of the world. Making the unthinkable possible.

The keynote speakers for the opening of the summer study school were Dr Alistair Mokoena (Country Director, Google South Africa) and Dr Willem Jacobs (COO Barrick Gold Corp.)

Dr Mokoena spoke about doing business in the age of digital disruption. He started off by greeting the MBA students as todays VIPs and tomorrows leaders. “The world around us has changed and we have no choice but to adapt,” said Dr Mokoena. He further referred to business models who survived the COVID-19 pandemic. These were online businesses and business with delivery and e-commerce capabilities.

“Improving digital presence is important in these times. We no longer live in a world where it is seen as man versus machine, but machine because of man. Technology can be utilised to improve business operations and deliver better value to customers. Life is no longer about the big eating the small, but the fast eating the slow. Becoming fast in the business world means to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to become nimble, agile - and a learning organisation learns from failure. Have an attitude to learn,” Dr Mokoena concluded.

Dr Jacobs presented on “The Post-COVID Environment: Management Challenges in the Contours of the New Normal”. He agreed with Dr Mokoena’s statement that technology should be embraced. COVID-19 emphasised the weakness of uncontrolled social media and its ability to sweep confusion through a population. This shows that accountable journalism is a dying breed and exposes the gullibility of people and societies. Dr Jacobs drew a parallel between the everyday Joe’s opinion that has the same weight as scientists due to social media and technology. People sharing their uninformed opinions on social media platforms feed a monster. “That in essence, is one of the main issues that we have to answer - how are we going to get in control of the message of the ethos of our society again,” Dr Jacobs said.

If there is one thing that we can learn from COVID-19, it is the whole violation of the general rules of truth and truthful communication and leadership. “The pandemic showed cracks in our society, globally and locally and we need to think about that,” said Dr Jacobs.

He ended his presentation with a quote from Booker T. Washington: “Success is to be measured, not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

Time and health are two of our most precious assets, of which we have little control. The relevance of conducting business in an ever-changing world and environment was shown in the keynote speakers’ presentations.

The summer school kicked off on a high note and the students and lecturers had a lot to reflect on.

Prof Romburgh had one last remark. “Did the train miss you or were you too late for the train? This reflects on the emphasis of control that we must take back. The NWU Business School can provide students with all the opportunities for an MBA, but the question is what you do with the opportunities and what do you do to differentiate yourself from the rest.”

Useful resources:
NWU Business School
At the NWU Business School, we strive to change the way our students think about business. We want our students to become managers/leaders in their own right.
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