There was laughter, tears and scenes of jubilation as friends and families of students at Henley Business School Africa celebrated the graduation of their loved ones at the Kyalami Theatre on The Track on Thursday, 22 November 2018.
Jonathan Foster-Pedley, Dean and Director of Henley Business School Africa conferred post-graduate degrees on 180 Master of Business Administration (MBA) students and 222 Post-Graduate Diplomas in Management Practice (PGDip) students while 100 students were awarded Henley’s Advanced Certificate in Management Practice (ACMP).
Guests were treated to the sounds of The Field Band Foundation’s Head Office Field Band Staff Ensemble who played two music pieces – Time to Say Good Bye and Somewhere over the Rainbow as faculty members took to the stage. The Field Band Foundation is a youth development organisation that uses and music and dance to teach life skills. The fabulous Mzansi Youth Choir, who have performed around the world, also thrilled guests with their magnificent voices and harmonies.
South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, who becomes the first South African to ever receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Reading’s Henley Business School (Henley UK), accepted the honour at the Henley Africa ceremony.
Foster-Pedley said he hoped the graduates would take a leaf out of Gordhan’s hat and serve as active corporate citizens with an unshakeable moral compass and sense of purpose to fight institutionalised greed, corruption and state capture so that all South Africans can share in the country’s wealthy, and create a better life for their families and communities. “We must all take up the challenge to be activists for good so that we are part of building an inclusive and prosperous society laid upon the foundations of hope and opportunity, not just for our children, but for our children’s children and beyond.”
Ryan Perry, Head of Supply Strategy at De Beers – who could not attend Henley Africa’s graduation ceremony, nor the Henley UK graduation ceremony because of work commitments – was awarded an MBA with distinction.
Perry, who has a technical and engineering background but started moving into executive and management roles, says he chose to do an MBA at Henley Africa because of the flexibility it afforded him and the fact that it is an internationally accredited and recognised qualification. “I was looking for an MBA I could do while being a father to a three-year-old daughter, being married and having a career. I wanted flexibility but also an MBA that was well-accredited and respected. Henley’s MBA ticked all the boxes. It’s global credentials and global focus stood out for me because my job has a worldwide focus. De Beers also does a lot of business in the UK and Europe and Henley has campuses in both the UK and Europe, so it felt like a natural fit.” Henley’s alumni network has been ranked #1 in the world by the Economist for potential to network.
He adds that he was looking for something to round off his business acumen. “What I found at Henley was an MBA that gave me much more than that. I really enjoyed the added focus on personal development, which for me was very profound. We were able to support one another through mini personal crises and challenges associated with our studies. It also provided me with career direction, enabling me to answer questions about where I want my career to go, what I am good at, what I want to achieve and how I can achieve a sense of purpose in my career and life. That was really invaluable to me.” In 2018, Henley was ranked 13th in the world by The Economist for Personal Development.
Rene Whitaker, Hilti Digital & Market Reach Manager for Near East, East & West Africa obtained an MBA with Distinction and received a prize – an engraved silver watch at the Henley Africa graduation. She says it’s through her journey with Henley Africa and Hilti, that she’s developed herself and those around her to further her career and to find innovative and socially responsible business solutions for Hilti’s customers in Africa and the Middle East.
“Choosing Henley Africa for my MBA was an easy decision. I needed to feel part of a family-orientated, friendly environment that could provide the highest standards of education while driving the right values and integrity when doing business in Africa.”
Whitaker took away three valuable learnings from her time at Henley. “I learned that when it comes to stakeholder management in the corporate environment one is not only responsible for one’s shareholders but also for one’s customers, suppliers and the environment. One’s decision should not be solely driven by profit. I also learned that personal development is an ongoing process no matter how senior one gets in an organisation, and one should be committed to this journey. One’s people management skills can always be developed.” Whitaker also gained a deeper understanding of best-practice accounting and financial standards and how these steer a business in the right direction by looking at the right numbers. “It has really helped me steer the parts of the business I am currently responsible for.”
She found her MBA journey at Henley transformational on several levels. “It started with my knowledge of how to manage a business and increased my confidence that I am doing the right thing. It also provided me with the skills and tools to empower others in their jobs – not only to excel but also to be happy at work. I feel excited that now that I have conquered an MBA, I am ready for an even bigger challenge.
“A big thank you to all the staff and my fellow scholars at Henley Africa for a fantastic three years. I look forward to being part of the 75000+ alumni network. Let’s make a positive change in the world together!”