8th June 2020, Johannesburg, South Africa. HENLEY Business School Africa is the MBA best business school in South Africa – for a third year running, according to the PMR Awards which today announced that it had awarded the school its , highest award, the diamond arrow, again for 2020.
“We are absolutely over the moon with this accolade,” says Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, “because the awards are based on the feedback of some of our key constituents; the business managers and the HR practitioners.
“It is these people who will either approach us to create executive education programmes to upskill their staff or recommend their own executives to study with us when the time comes in their careers, to do an international executive MBA.”
The awards, announced as South African begins to emerge from one of the toughest COVID-19 lockdowns anywhere in the globe, couldn’t come as a better time.
“The old normal is gone, we are now in the realm of the unknown which is shaping and informing what will be the new normal when we overcome this pandemic,” explains Foster-Pedley, “Innovation is everything now, and innovation is our speciality. Business schools will play a critical role in preparing business leaders for that change and able to do whatever it takes to rebuild the economy, creating jobs and prosperity.”
Henley Africa has continued delivering all its programmes throughout South Africa’s 11-week lockdown after successfully pivoting to virtual teaching.
“A business school should also model how to run good business. Like any other great business you have to be situationally aware,” he says.
“Because we practice what we preach, we were able to see what was happening before the lockdown was imposed so we brought in some of the best minds available to us here in South Africa and across the global Henley network to design our education experience. We used the right technology to ensure a seamless virtual delivery of our teaching. Our students could interact as if they were in class, yet actually be sitting at home.”
The transition was so successful that the business school made the decision to freely share the lessons it had learnt and the technology it was using with any other business school or public university. Henley, for the sake of the nation, wanted to help them also pivot to virtual teaching.
“We believe collaboration is the way of the future. It’s about ubuntu,” says Foster-Pedley, “we are because of others, others are because of this. Our reality, as a country and as a continent, is that the challenges we face and will face on the other side of this pandemic will require all of us to work together to find ways of overcoming them.
“No one knew when the lockdown began how long it would last or what the roadmap would be for a return life after lockdown, which is why it was critical that we didn’t pause what we were doing for a moment – and as important for us to help others caught in the same situation.”
Collaboration has always been part of the Henley Africa DNA, which was borne out again during the lockdown when the business school became the first ever in Africa to win a global award – the EFMD Excellence in Practice Gold Award for collaboration in executive education. With Standard Bank and the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, Henley co-designed and co-delivered a programme for 328 of Standard Bank’s senior executives across 20 African countries.
“The world is too small, the challenges too big, to focus on competition,” says Foster-Pedley. “By working together, a collaboration between great schools and a great client, we have been reinventing executive education to the benefit of all.”
The gold award was followed shortly afterwards by the announcement that Henley Africa had been ranked the highest African-accredited and-campused business school in the world for executive education by Britain’s Financial Time at number 24 in the world.
“All these awards bear testimony to the efforts of our faculty, the commitment of our students, and the support of our partners. But they also affirm our over-riding mission to innovate and to create,” says Foster-Pedley.
“In times of crisis, people can give up hope, filled with fear and paralysed by indecision. The brave new world that awaits us will be built and led by people who are at their best in times of volatility, uncertainty, chaos, ambiguity, disruption and diversity.”
Henley Africa, he says, has deliberately set out to teach its students the tools to learn and unlearn and learn again, to be unafraid of failure, afraid only of not trying.
“A Henley Africa graduate is a person who inspires others, who provides hope where there is none,” he says. “It’s someone who is committed to a life of learning, who is the person who builds the businesses that will build Africa and contributes to end the inequality that has been brought into such sharp relief by the ravages of this pandemic.”