Wits Business School launches an MBA with a difference

Dr Pino Maqhawe Mavengere
When Wits Business School was developing its new MBA in the field of Healthcare Leadership, it knew it had to choose the programme director very carefully. Ideally, the candidate should be a doctor who also comes with extensive health industry experience, and at the same time be at home in the classroom. They should also have an entrepreneurial mindset and be up for a big challenge. In Dr Pino Maqhawe Mavengere (MBChB, MBA) they found the right person at the right time.

A medical doctor by training, Mavengere chose to forge another path for himself which gave him extensive experience across the health and business sectors. He has worked as, among other things, an administrator and change management consultant in the public health sector before starting his own company, Health Metrics. Fulfilling a long-held desire to teach, Mavengere ended up as an honorary lecturer at the Wits School of Public Health, with a focus on strategy, financial management and leadership.

That was when the opportunity at WBS presented itself.

“The timing was right for me to take my experience forward, and I was ready for a new challenge. I have been tasked with spearheading the [MBA in the field of Healthcare Leadership] programme, helping to develop the curriculum on paper, but, importantly, to see it take shape as a tangible product,” he said.

Mavengere has joined a team of experts who have collaborated closely on developing the programme content. These include colleagues from the Wits faculties of Health Sciences and Public Health, as well as further afield, including the CT Bauer School of Business, University of Houston.

He stresses that there will also be a strong practical approach and the programme will draw on the expertise of those at the ‘coal face’.

“Our Wits and WBS lecturers will be our anchors but we will also draw extensively on industry experts, such as medical aid administrators, to give guest lectures,” he said. “We will do plenty of talks and masterclasses by who have “been there, done that”, people who can talk about their challenges, for example with Covid, as we need to be better prepared for future global challenges.”

The MBA-HL also has a strong international component, with a global study tour and international electives. 

“Globally, there is much to be learnt from other countries, such as the NHS experience in the UK which can teach us some important lessons,” Mavengere asserts. “Healthcare in every country is the same - it’s a public good but very difficult to deliver for everyone. Every country has its challenges in providing affordable healthcare to every citizen. The problem often lies in the gaps in knowledge and a lack of skilled managerial capacity.”

With a strong bias towards healthcare leadership development, Wits Business School MBA-HL is distinct from other similar offerings in South Africa. While other institutions may offer an MBA with electives in healthcare, the MBA-HL at WBS targets only those working as professionals in the industry, including doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, clinicians, etc. Each module revolves around healthcare, so traditional MBA courses such as strategic planning, marketing, or economics are focused on healthcare only.

WBS launched its MBA in the field of Healthcare Leadership in October 2023 and the first cohort started in March 2024. The second cohort will kick off in January 2025. With a blend of in-person and online lectures, masterclasses and coaching sessions, the programme accommodates busy working professionals.

Mavengere believes the new MBA-HL addresses a gap in both the education and healthcare landscapes, and meets the needs of healthcare professionals as well as the needs of the country.

“We have very well-trained professionals in the health industry, doctors, nurses, etc – and they are almost always specialists, but typically their education does not look at things like strategy, and financial management, and so forth. So, you have very qualified people in the industry, but they need to go out of the industry to learn business principles.”

With the much debated and complex National Health Insurance (NHI) on the horizon in South Africa, the country is facing extraordinary challenges in the sector. For Mavengere, a critical component will be developing a pipeline of thought leaders who can steer the sector into a sustainable future.

“There’s never enough money, enough people, enough political will – those challenges will always be there. But you need institutions devoted to development. I know that WBS can lead the field in healthcare leadership and I am excited to be part of this journey.”

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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