HENLEY Business School Africa has attracted its highest ever number of applications for its MBA class this year – 580, up from 420 two years ago.
“We are determined to give our students the strongest launchpad for their future work success, with the best mix of international and African-oriented MBA learning”, says Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley. “MBA recruitment is almost entirely driven by word of mouth, and it’s motivating to see that we are delivering, people are talking about the value of our MBA and that more and more people are coming to us. I’m the first to say we are not perfect, but improving and raising our game is what really drives us. It’s a great responsibility for us and we take our work very seriously. Nonetheless this is a wonderful endorsement. Coming as it does during an unprecedented nationwide lockdown in the midst of the greatest health crisis in living memory, makes it even more special. It will drive me and Henley Africa’s faculty and staff to even greater efforts to build the people who build the businesses that build Africa.”
Henley Africa pivoted seamlessly to virtual learning a week before South African President Cyril Ramaphosa instituted a nationwide hard lockdown for an initial 21 days, but which would eventually run to 66 days before re-opening most of the economy under Level 3 on 1 June.
“We were determined that our students wouldn’t lose out because of quarantine and be able to continue studying, while ensuring that neither they nor our faculty would be at risk in the process,” explains Foster-Pedley. “Our pivot, which necessitated finding the right delivery platforms and revisiting how we would teach the curriculum, ensured that the virtual version of teaching lost little of the dynamic engagement of the actual classroom – in fact we found that in some ways we had even more engagement by students. And we have increased our resources to deliver on the increased demand.”
Practising what you preach has always been a hallmark of the teaching at Henley Africa. Begun 28 years ago effectively as an agency operation of a British business school, albeit the oldest one in Europe, Henley Africa has grown over 1000% in the last ten years. Today it is a fully-fledged African international business school with its own research and design capacity, offering a raft of executive education programmes in a unique ladder of learning that allows students to learn while they earn, moving all the way from post-matric to masters in novel, flexible and human-friendly ways. It’s also the only business school in South Africa giving a true international MBA qualification from an internationally triple accredited business school and access to what the Economist has ranked as the number 1 alumni community in the world for potential to network.
It’s a journey that has seen the school run as a start-up from the very beginning using the same business and value-generating tools it develops and teaches students to move from an initial MBA graduating class of 30 ten years ago to a record 233 MBAs last year.
“Our international faculty are without exception inspired by our South African students and by their capability and potential. They love coming here and teaching. Right now, like everywhere else, the lectures are virtual and remote, but we will return to face to face when that’s safe. Our programmes are flexible and applied to your real-life situation. We have innovated, we don’t just borrow from international best practice but are building African case studies, African elective and virtual immersions to ensure that which we teach is always relevant, cutting edge and immediately applicable,” says Foster-Pedley.
“What is most heart-warming is the realisation by so many people that in this time of unimaginable volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity, over laid by diversity and disruption, that the best possible thing they can do to build their futures is invest in themselves by committing to studying for an MBA.”
It’s a qualification, he says, that won’t give you all the answers, but more importantly the lifelong skills to work out those answers for yourself.
“That’s the true worth of an MBA – wherever you choose to study it,” says Foster-Pedley who also serves as vice chair of the South African Business Schools Association, “we all need to upskill aggressively to prepare for the rigorous task ahead of rebuilding our economy here and across the continent for a brand new reality, a new normal. And not just rebuild – reinvent and transform economies to be integral to the emerging new world of work globally.
“What the Henley MBA does is give you a qualification that is truly flexible to your needs and blends the very best of our local and international faculty on our campuses in South Africa, UK and Europe to give you a degree that offers you the best opportunity to make sense of a future that is rapidly becoming our current reality.”