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Leadership behind the scenes keeps WBS ticking over

In many cases, the real unsung heroes of the pandemic at Wits have been those at the ‘IT coalface’, having to fast-track all staff to online teaching, and working from home, with minimal disruption. But it takes one individual to mobilise a team and ensure continued service delivery in unusually challenging times.

When lockdown forced Wits Business School (WBS) to transition to online teaching in time for the start of the second teaching block on 4 April 2020, Kreneshan Gopal, Service Delivery Manager: IT Operations, showed his true leadership colours.

Gopal had to ensure that all staff were equipped with the necessary resources. This meant having to motivate for the reallocation of funds into new laptops and other technology, despite budget constraints. On top of this were the challenges of laptop shortages across the country caused by the pandemic.

“I can attribute the success of our online transition to the continued support/understanding I received from senior management at all times – recognising the need and making available the resources to facilitate the successful process of moving online. Hand in hand with this is the support I received from my IT team, going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that all users’ needs were met,” says Gopal.

Looking back, he says he felt a bit overwhelmed at first, given the rapid pace at which things were changing. “I had to make several personal sacrifices to ensure that I was able to deliver on expectations, working on average 12 to 14 hour-days. In order to cope with the stress, I maintained a daily routine of exercising for at least an hour each day and dedicating an hour for family time.”

Gopal also ensured ongoing interaction with his team during this time, having regular phone conversations with them. A self-confessed extrovert, he enjoys chatting and being around people, and acknowledges that working remotely can take its toll.

“This has been a challenging time for all staff and students. There were several users who at the outset had reservations about moving online and felt overwhelmed by the change. However, through continuous engagement by means of virtual calls, emails, WhatsApp messages and other communication channels, we received their buy-in. I can say that given all the challenges and constraints that we faced, we have definitely succeeded as a school during this tough period.”

Says Jatin Karsen, Audio & Visual Support consultant at WBS: “Kren is a great manager who really motivated the team during Covid. He leads with respect, dignity, and passion for excellent IT support and service delivery on the Parktown Management Campus.”

Useful resources:
Wits Business School
At the Wits Business School we recognise that our task, through our academic and executive education programmes, is to equip leaders, managers and entrepreneurs with skills to proactively address challenges presented by the changing environment within which we operate.
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