Newly appointed GSB Alumni Relations Manager, Niven Maree, believes that researching alumni needs and expectations holds the key to building mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships. And that these form part of the GSB’s strategic vision to remain relevant and build a strong presence in Africa.
“Alumni relations, like any other relationship you value, should never be taken for granted,” says Maree. “Relationships need work. Just as you need to nurture your relationship with your partner, your granny, your friends. That is how I view alumni relations.” He is excited that his new role will allow him to “really get involved, to understand and grow the GSB’s relationship with its key stakeholders”.
Maree has been actively involved in stakeholder relations in higher education for 15 years. He joins the GSB after seven years at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) as a senior fundraiser in the corporate, trust and foundations sectors. This involved strategic communication management, industry liaison and project management. Prior to that, he worked as a development manager in fundraising at UCT.
He feels his most important task ahead will be “to find out what makes GSB alumni tick”. The beauty of this, he says, is that no one stakeholder group is the same. “Alumni are not a homogeneous group. What works for someone who graduated in 1970 is not the same as someone graduating in 2017. Their needs and expectations are different, and they require a different approach.”
His vision is to ensure that the GSB’s strategy and relationship management remains relevant. “My hope is to build on the exceptional foundation laid by my predecessors, and to develop a deeper understanding of our stakeholders in order to provide a better service to them.”
Maree is currently completing a Master of Technology in Public Relations Management at CPUT, which he feels will ground his practical experience in theory, and help him in his new role. He already holds a Bachelor of Technology from CPUT where he graduated cum laude.
The best part about his work, Maree feels, is that “every positive interaction with a stakeholder for me is a highlight. Also, it is a privilege to be associated with a world-class business school like the GSB. It is an honour, and I want people to know that I am here to serve them.”
Career advancement is the number one objective for the vast majority of students who enrol on a business programme
and Amena Hayat, newly appointed Career Service Manager at the GSB, is determined to ensure that these ambitions become realities.
“My role is around engaging with diverse talent; providing a platform and opportunities for students to advance or change careers and equipping them with the tools to handle this life-changing experience most effectively,” she says.
Hayat, who was formerly the Global Talent Manager for Unilever London, brings to the position a wealth of local and global expertise, new perspectives and ideas.
“Talent management involves understanding that the process reaches well beyond recruitment and takes a long-term view on talent. It is not just about ‘landing’ graduates in an organisation, but considering each individual and developing him or her to become an asset to the organisation by speaking to the strategic goals of that organisation,” she explains.
Hayat draws on an eclectic career path: she qualified as a chef with the South African Chefs Academy before going on to achieve a BSocSci in economics and organisational psychology and a postgraduate diploma in marketing management. She then entered the human resources division of Unilever South Africa where she immediately began to chalk up an impressive list of achievements paving the way for a position in Unilever UK where in 2016 she was recognised as the “Key Emerging Talent”.
At Unilever she developed a passion for talent and careers which led to her deciding that she wanted a diversion in her own career path to understand “the education side of careers”. So when she saw the role being advertised at the GSB she jumped at it.
This role forms part of the newly streamlined unit: the Department of Alumni Relations and Careers Services. According to Morea Josias, who heads up the new department, the new structure is designed to improve the career support provided to students and alumni.
“Success will be to leverage off the strong foundation the GSB careers team has and boost it to help meet the needs of an evolving corporate landscape so that together, we can build South Africa,” says Hayat.
Newly appointed Allan Gray Chair in Values-Based Leadership at the GSB, Professor Kurt April, is currently working on his ninth book, but it’s not what you would expect from a business school professor.
Professor Kurt April is one of the GSB’s most published academics, but his newest book will come as a surprise to some. The book, expected out this November, will be a collection of poetry that will feature his own work, as well as the contributions of MBA students whom he has encouraged to think not only about responsible and purposeful leadership, but also about being more creative and flexible.
“Poetry and business, at face value, appear to be odd bedfellows,” he admits. “But poetry can enhance, enrich and animate the life of business, and the lives of those within business.”
Exploring new ways of looking at more responsible and sustainable leadership practices has become the focus of an illustrious academic career for Professor April, that has, somewhat appropriately, led to his appointment as Chair of the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership at the GSB. April took up the mantle in September this year after a lengthy competitive recruitment process to fill the Chair, which has been vacant for over a year.
Professor April has been a member of faculty at the GSB, most recently as professor of leadership, diversity and inclusion, for almost two decades. He is also an Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK (2000-present), and Programme Director at DukeCE, Duke University, USA (2008-present). He has previously been a regular visiting professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands (2001-2013), research fellow at Ashridge-Hult Business School, UK (2004-2016), and visiting professor at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (2004-2007).
Outside of tertiary education, he holds many positions including shareholder and managing partner of LICM Consulting, South Africa, shareholder and executive director of the Achievement Awards Group, South Africa, and chairman of the international D&I advisory council of Novartis AG, Switzerland. He is also a non-executive director of the Power Group, South Africa and a non-executive director of the International School of Cape Town in South Africa, as well as an ambassador of the global Unashamedly Ethical campaign.
He is excited to take on more responsibilities as the Allan Gray Chair. “It really is an extension of the work I have been doing over the past 18 years,” says Professor April. “The premise I operate from is that if you cannot lead yourself, you will struggle to lead others and head up organisations. It starts with the self, with true self-awareness that guides behaviour, choices and decision-making,” he says.
These views are closely aligned with the objectives of the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership. The centre was established at the GSB in 2011 with the aim of deconstructing ineffective and toxic business management models, and promoting an orientation towards purpose-guided business practices, accountability and responsible practices. With Professor April on board, the centre will additionally focus on individual aspects in the workplace: character, self-care, narratology, ethics and personal resilience. It will also seek to enhance its relationship with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, which supports the development of emerging business leaders and entrepreneurs through 150 scholarships (school-based), 320 fellowships (at 10 universities) and 330 associates (post-university).
Professor April explains that “There is nothing soft about this work, it is extremely hard to do!” He explains how helping individuals gain courage through shifting from ‘comfortability’ to possibility, and establishing boundaries in order to gain control of their choices and work lives, enables them in turn to be sustainably more effective managers and leaders. “Many employees suppress their own value systems in the name of their job and this can cause stress. It can be a big factor in burnout, depression, decreased self-esteem, anxiety, lack of sleep, poor diet and other mental/physical health problems. These are problems on the increase in the modern business world.”
By introducing MBA students to poetry, he hopes to stimulate their creativity and imagination and to help them become more critical and flexible in their thinking. “The world is increasingly complex and business leaders need to be able to think creatively about solutions and opportunities.” Students are encouraged to write poems on topics like “personal purpose” or the “enhancement or contravention of their personal values and motivations”, an exercise that also deepens relationships within the study groups and enhances the teaching experience.
“Like all art, poetry engages the imagination in unique and surprising ways. It enables a new kind of seeing, gives creative orientation and brings apparent simplicity to seeming chaos, opening vistas unimaginable through mere business processes and numbers.”
The Impact Investing Project Manager at the GSB’s Bertha Centre, Bakang Moetse, is dedicated to innovative social finance which is inclusive and benefits communities and SMEs.
The GSB’s Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship is well known for its work in innovative finance. As the new Impact Investing Project Manager, Bakang Moetse works with the centre’s innovative finance team to promote inclusive business and finance models within the economy. She explains “working in the social finance space, we are finding innovative ways to incorporate a social impact lens into finance and investment decisions. Impact investing is about making business models that are more inclusive of everyone, communities and SMEs, not just high net-worth individuals or wealthy capital owners.
“We also test and implement new financial instruments which are geared towards catalysing the investment into social impact sectors and increasing access to finance for early stage enterprises.”
Originally from Maun in Botswana, Moetse studied at UCT, completing her BCom degree in Management Studies specialising in Economics. She is currently working towards a level 2 of the CFA programme. She is also qualified as a Prince 2 project manager. In her new position, Moetse is excited to “engage and utilise everything I’ve learned in my studies about finance and economics to contribute to a system change in financial models, to make the economy more inclusive.”
She’s not only bringing theory to the table, she has extensive working experience in commercial banking. Before joining the Bertha Centre, she worked as a product manager, a product analyst and a commercial banking analyst at Stanbic Bank in Botswana.
Moetse finds the move from commercial banking to innovative and social finance to be a fulfilling one. She says, “Investment decisions shouldn’t be just about the bottom line. Working on financial inclusivity for me is beneficial and gratifying, knowing that the work we do is making a lasting and sustainable change.”
Her vision is to keep promoting innovative financing in South Africa and scale it to other African countries. She stresses the importance of sharing knowledge and resources across the continent. Business and finance innovations need to take local communities into account, she says. “People living in those contexts are best placed to solve those problems”.
The best part of her job, she says “is being part of something that’s gaining traction, part of the momentum towards change”.
The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s new Innovative Finance Project Coordinator Noluyolo Magazi is driven to find solutions for the social ills afflicting many South Africans.
Growing up in the Eastern Cape gave Magazi first-hand experience of the living conditions and the realities that many South Africans are facing every day. Making a difference was the driving force behind her undergraduate studies in financial accounting and then starting the MCom in Development Finance at the UCT GSB. While on the GSB campus, she learned of the position at the Bertha Centre and was motivated to apply. “During my studies I took the Innovative Finance elective. This is where I was introduced to the concept of impact investing and the various tools and approaches where development finance can be utilised to mobilise private capital to fund social outcomes. Decisive action is needed to accelerate the pace of economic growth, pursue transformation and social justice with greater diligence and urgency than ever before!”
Since taking up the position, she facilitates research on impact investing and is actively involved in the development of the South African National Advisory Board on Impact Investing. She believes the centre is doing important work that can have positive outcomes for many communities.
She admits that she is an idealist who wants to help work towards a better future. “I dream of a world where people have equitable access to quality education and healthcare, where families don’t have to sacrifice meals because there is not enough money to put food on the table; where children don’t have to choose between going to school and providing for their families and where there are equal opportunities for all.”
But her feet are also firmly on the ground. She previously worked at the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury as a budget analyst and she knows exactly what challenges government faces. “Over the past four years government has been in a state of fiscal consolidation, containing the budget deficit and controlling the pace of debt accumulation. The public purse is further stretched as the growth in tax revenues has not kept pace with the level of service demanded. This is where innovative finance business models pioneered by the Bertha Centre can have a lot of impact on achieving effective service delivery outcomes. That excites me about my new position.”