An expert on socio-political risk management, conflict prevention and collaboration, Ganson’s work has taken him all over the world. To West Africa, the DRC, Latin America and Kosovo, he admits his love for travel ties in with his passion for his work, which focuses on the relationship between business, conflict and development. “I like to think that having moved a lot helps me approach each new place with greater curiosity; what are the stories people tell about the place? Who’s doing what to build the future?”
Drawing on this diverse experience, Ganson recently designed and led a programme on conflict and business at the GSB in partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ACCESS Facility, an international non-profit organisation focused on company-community conflict and its resolution. The programme, titled Company-Community Mediation for Complex Environments, was the first collaboration between the GSB and the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement, which Ganson heads up. A civil rights attorney from Texas, Ganson has counselled UN agencies, companies and NGOs, published numerous books on conflict prevention and is editor-in-chief of ACCESS Facility.
Ganson’s work at the GSB will focus on the question, why do people stop seeing the value in working together. He believes that no matter how difficult or violent the environment, people are able to draw on reserves of strength to achieve positive change. His observations have made him an eternal optimist.“It is a lot more fun and productive to be an optimist and an activist, than merely a commentator. My work is about enabling transitions from destructive conflict to contexts where parties can work on peace.”
Reddy has worked in both the public and private sector in South Africa, but it is her current position at the Bertha Centre that really inspires her. The fellowship programme is designed to strengthen the capacity of global leaders with an appetite for bringing about change. A diverse group of 21 leaders from Asia, Africa and Latin America meet for four modules a year at various global locations and Reddy needs to make everything happen successfully.
“What I enjoy about the Bertha Centre’s approach is that it puts people and collaboration first, and there is a deep commitment to working in a way that reflects our values,” says Reddy. Born and raised in Durban, she spent her last two years of high school in the US on a United World Colleges scholarship, then relocated to Cape Town for her undergraduate degree in economics and political studies at UCT and went on to do her MBA in 2005. She has worked in many areas, from being the special advisor to the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to leading sustainable development within South African Breweries and serving as the first general manager of the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation.
But her heart has always been in socially responsible and sustainable work and she believes that it is in this area that innovation holds so much promise for effecting real change. “What excites me about social innovation is that it isn’t predominantly ‘owned’ by any single sector and it has been a vehicle for collaboration between government, private sector, NGOs, community-based organisations, philanthropic and academic institutions on a scale that is almost unprecedented in recent history,” she adds.
“I have a deep interest in commercial solutions that can help to develop youth from disadvantaged backgrounds,” he says. Over the past few years, he has been growing start-up business Headboy Industries Inc, which he co-founded with partner Ludwick Marishane. The company manufactures and distributes the innovative DryBath product, a waterless cleaning agent for people with no or little access to water.
Starting the company has not been easy and Gumede is keen to share the lessons he has learned with others. “Success does not come quickly. My advice to young people is to make their business the centre of their lives, designing everything around it, taking care of how they handle expenses and how much time they spend with family and friends.
”Gumede will be involved in several GSB academic programmes in 2016 and has already started tutoring MBA students. He says interacting with students who are eager for business knowledge is hugely rewarding and stimulating for him.
Originally from Johannesburg, Gumede now calls Cape Town home. He studied business science at UCT and has a Master’s in Development Finance from the GSB. He went on to co-found and head up operations at Headboy Industries, which also runs Excel@Uni, a dedicated programme for bursary students at university, providing support for personal and professional development for these students. He is a believer in the power of coaching young people and supporting African business people in finding business solutions for the continent’s developmental problems.
“Everyone’s journey as a start-up is unique but generally, I think, there is a need for more business experience for young entrepreneurs.”