Disabling the limits: Inspiring MBA journey

Diagnosed with a hearing disability at a young age, Dinolan Narsimdas has always sought ways to make his disability his strength and to use that strength to overcome life’s challenges. It is in such circumstances he says that he has learnt the most about himself. Now an MBA candidate at Henley Business School, Dinolan tells us how Henley has helped him to learn even more about what it means to be a human being and a leader and how he’d like to inspire all people living with disabilities with the knowledge that no matter your strengths or weaknesses, you can make a positive change in the world.

When I was two years old, my parents discovered that I had a hearing disability. I grew up in a small town called Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal, with just two primary schools and one high school, and so I just had to fit in. For people who have hearing disabilities, it’s often like this.

I still had a good school career, thanks to support from my family and because of the friends I made through sports and leadership. I played tennis, cricket, and football, and I was the Deputy Head Prefect of my high school. Football has stuck with me – I’m a huge Manchester United fan. My dad, however, supports Liverpool! But that never stopped him from being my biggest inspiration. After high school, I went to Durban University of Technology. At that time, law, accounting, and IT were very popular. My sister had already studied law, and my brother had accounting checked, so I had to do IT. I often joke that my parents made me take IT because they wanted to diversify their portfolio!

But IT has served me well during my career. I started out as a Team Lead at Telkom. And then I moved on to Multichoice, where I’ve worked for 17 years – I’m like an antique there! But I’ve moved around during my time here: I was a QA Engineer, then a Business Architect, then a Senior Specialist in Digital and IT Strategy. Now, I am a Principle Agile Lead for the IT division. I hope to lead by example in a senior position – for myself and my family and to inspire all the people who have disabilities who want to advance their careers. I want to show them it’s possible.

What has really helped me to develop professionally is, of course, Henley Business School. In 2019, I did my PGDip in Management Practice as a part of my personal development plan with distinction. Now, I’m doing my MBA. It’s more than just the three letters on LinkedIn: it’s about the EQ work that we do, the self-reflection, and challenging ourselves to be better human beings. It’s also about being exposed to like-minded people. We’re all at similar stages of our careers and lives, and many of us are faced with a question. For me, it’s a question that has come to me throughout my life. And that question is: Am I worthy of this? Do I deserve it?

This programme is helping me to prove to myself that, yes, I am worthy. To reinforce that I can. I am doing it also to inspire my two young daughters – the same way my father, the only breadwinner growing up, inspired me. I’ve got a 3-year-old and an 11-year-old. And if you could see them! The 11-year-old, she’s already my work partner. My wife and I run a sustainable, local beauty product business together, and our eldest girl has a little range of her own! Ultimately, our focus is to try and create opportunities for people around us.

Ultimately, my focus is to try and create opportunities for the people around us – especially those with a disability. I know that most of the time, we do not speak about the challenges we face. And I know we try to blend in because we want to be ‘normal’. And I want to say this without sounding corny, but – I’m just saying: You don’t have to be normal. You are special by being different, and recognising that gives you power. For example, I mean, there are hearing aids. I’m waiting for the day when, if a person speaks a different language, the hearing aids can translate it into English. My weakness becomes my strength. That’s just one small thing – but mainly, I want people with disabilities to know that we can own our own company, we can be great leaders, and we can be those who shape the future for the better. I leave you with Nelson Mandela’s words, “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”.

Useful resources:
Henley Business School
At the core of Henley’s philosophy is the belief that we need to develop managers and leaders for the future. We believe the challenge facing future leaders is the need to solve dilemmas through making choices. We work with both individuals and organisations to create the appropriate learning environment to facilitate the critical thinking skills to prepare for the future.
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