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Posts Tagged ‘AVUSA’

It’s always a pleasure to come and run workshops here in South Africa, in Johannesburg. This must be my seventh or eighth time here in about six years and I always marvel at the sense of space and the promise (despite the problems) that the region has. This particular visit is slightly different in that the time of year means coming from dark, autumnal Britain to hot and summer-like climate, where the trees are all in bloom and the skies are big and (for the most part, since Jo’burg has spectacular thunderstorms) blue.

Another difference is that the workshop I’ve been running is not at the start of the MBA (fresh faces, eager and nervous minds) but a group coming to the end of their Stage 1 work. Still a big group, it’s a pleasure to work with people who have stretched themselves and, in many cases, had unexpected results in the first year.

Also different is the fact that, really for the first time, Henley in South Africa is not located in someone else’s building, with shared resources and problems. Newly located next to one of the recently up-graded motorway routes between Jo’Burg and Pretoria, the setting is good for business and the fact that all the classroom space is only for Henley’s use, and is well constructed and full of natural light, makes the whole feeling so much more… well, more Henley, really. Sure, there’s no river, but what a difference it makes to have a place of your own to call home.

Yet another novelty for me this trip was the chance to go and make a short presentation (which I turned into a workshop) for the managers of a company called AVUSA (publishing and media). The “chance” was mediated slightly by the fact that the timing meant getting off an 11 hour overnight flight and driving straight to the company, but luckily everyone was quite understanding. The people there were, in fact, great, and very open to the idea of Reflection (what else would be my topic?). At the end, they presented me with a lovely biography of Mandela. On the way to their company, my driver took me through the district in Jo’Burg where Madiba has his residence – and it is a really lovely area (their version of Hampstead, perhaps?).

I always like to compare progress between visits. A shallow and restricted comparison, I understand, since I do not see much of the country when I’m here, but since I am always able to compare the same thing, I can report that there is continued development here – the infrastructure is more in place, the systems more reliable and the sense of unease (at least in some areas) and fear of crime has improved somewhat. Where people were openly planning to leave SA a few years ago, the debate has become much more of a dilemma and the tide sometimes turns the other way. One thing’s for sure, at some point I will want to explore more of the openness and potential of this country as a visitor.  Some things don’t change, of course. The South Africans are sports crazy, and the performance of the cricket team against Australia was woven into the PD workshop yesterday.

There’s a big topic of debate in education at the moment around the status of the MBA. The education ministry is considering a proposal to rate the MBA down from “level 9” (which would designate the MBA as a master’s degree requiring an honours degree for entry – and an honours degree here in SA means having completed a fourth year of university, which of course many managers won’t have done) to “level 8”. There would be pros and cons for Business Schools of this, mostly to do with programme financing in public universities, but the business schools are lobbying for the current situation to continue. At least, I think that’s what they’re doing – it’s complicated…!

Now I must get back to the PhD…

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