14 May 2020, Johannesburg, South Africa. TWO South African business schools and a South African bank have won a highly coveted global award – the EFMD Excellence in Practice Gold Award for Executive Education. They are first team to ever do so in this category in Africa since the award’s inception – beating off the best business schools in the rest of the world.
Based in Brussels, in Belgium, EFMD is a global non-profit accreditation body for business schools, business school programmes and corporate universities, comprising more than 900 member organisations over 91 countries in a network of more than 30 000 management professionals across academia, government, corporates and consultancies.
Henley Business School Africa, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and Standard Bank won the award for their Strategic Leadership Programme entitled #UnTAP, a unique collaboration between two of the country’s best business schools and the bank working together to design and develop an authentically African leadership programme and share faculty and staff to present it.
Conceptualised in 2017 in Johannesburg, #UnTAP brought 328 Standard Bank executives from 20 African countries together to undergo an intensive three-month transformational executive management programme in classes of 30. This would have much more than the traditional commercial impact; adding tangible societal and personal impacts by deliberately setting out to untap the potential of the executives who attended.
“Standard Bank approached us and GIBS with a simple mandate,” explains Linda Buckley, director of executive education at Henley Africa; “they said, ‘we are more than a bank, we want more than a programme’.”
The result was a co-designed strategic leadership programme unlike anything that has been offered in executive education over the last 20 years in South Africa.
Gill Cross, the head of learning innovation at GIBS and Buckley’s opposite number on the programme, agrees: “The GIBS partnership with Standard Bank and Henley cultivated a rich approach towards the design and delivery of leadership development solutions ‘by Africa, for Africa’ held together by our spirit of Ubuntu, roughly translated as ‘I am because of who we all are’.”
The outcome for the Standard Bank executives was to return to their business units and their various countries as role models not just internally but within their communities too, breaking the stereotypes of bankers in the process.
The programme had a marked effect on their lives, with 99% saying that the programme had been applicable to their work, 98% to their personal lives and 69% to their role in the community. 82% of all the attendees were subsequently recognised as high performers with the bank, with a significant percentage being promoted even higher afterwards.
“The Strategic Leadership Programme contributed to our ability to realise the dream of creating an environment in which our people can become the best version of themselves through rich personal and professional development experiences that prepare our leaders for success in an ever-changing environment,” says Standard Bank Group’s head of human capital, Sharon Taylor.
“We are excited to be recognised for the efforts we have made in partnership with GIBS and Henley, in making the Strategic Leadership Programme a truly transformational experience.”
For Henley Africa’s dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, the award is apt testimony to what can be achieved through collaboration, especially in Africa: “The world is too small, the challenges too big, to focus on competition. By working together, a collaboration between great schools and a great client, we’re reinventing executive education to the benefit of all.”