Gearing up for the next step

GSB Foundation Scholar Refentse Masha

Refentse Masha / GSB MBA student 2023 and GSB Foundation scholar // My initial curiosity to pursue an MBA was sparked last year. I did an executive course similar to the MBA, which touched on strategy, financial management, talent management and those subjects. I applied what I had learned to my business and found it to be quite useful. With six years of experience scaling and selling my own start-up, I’m now eager to explore what the next step for me is. I chose GSB because I wanted a programme that was located in Africa, focussing on Africa – that’s where I want to operate going forward. I’m still very open-minded to what might happen after the MBA, but I know that I won’t have to start from scratch – I know the kind of structures that I need to have and what I’m learning here at the GSB. So when I return to the business world or decide to venture into corporate, I’m well equipped for my journey.

Teamwork is key – during the MBA and in business

Stephen Quantrill

Stephen Quantrill / GSB MBA ’94, Executive Chairman of McRae Investments // I’m a huge supporter of the enrichment and stretch of the GSB experience – including the foundation the MBA provides your career and the bonds and friendships that endure. The GSB MBA is a dynamic melting pot for extending and understanding yourself better and gaining skills in teamwork and symbiosis; it is a vibrant proxy for demanding board and management environments later. The academic programme is intense and deliberately designed around teamwork, and I’d urge students to give more than they take – putting in 150% while encouraging your team’s high performance in a high-pressure environment are critical skills for success. In my experience, people that go on to do better than others also learn early that they don’t have all the skills and knowledge. So it’s about learning and understanding how other people’s contributions can improve your own success, and you can benefit theirs. As a business leader, you learn to value that people see things differently, so you adapt to listen better and make more robust decisions together.

It’s about community

Mukona Khalushi, GSB PGDip '17 and member of the GSB Alumni Board, PGDip Subcommittee

Mukona Khalushi / GSB PGDip ’17 and member of the GSB Alumni Board, PGDip Subcommittee // I wanted the PGDip fundraising to be more effective and realised that it’s a bigger job – you need more ideas and a committed team. That’s how the idea of the alums subcommittee started. You need PGDip alums who relate to the course and the outcome of the course, who get together with others just as excited to be joining forces. I know what the PGDip did for me – it helped me see myself beyond my limit, it helped me grow as a leader, I’m more visionary now. Yeah, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Fundraising is about community; it gives people the opportunity to invest in others, impact other people’s lives and go beyond where they can reach. There could be someone who is going online right now, they want to study for a PGDip but don’t have the funds. Having an option of financial aid still motivates them to apply – so if there are funds available, that is an opportunity for that individual.

Our alumni network is remarkable

GSB Foundation Scholar Vishal Patel

Vishal Patel / GSB MBA student 2022 and GSB Foundation scholar // I knew full-heartedly that I wanted to go to the GSB, so when I received the email that I got the scholarship, I was beaming with joy that I actually could attend the school I wanted to go to, come down to Cape Town and to fully immerse myself in this experience. The one thing I was amazed about when I came to the GSB – and I kind of heard stories about it but never put much thought into it – is that the alumni network is very strong. It is incredible how willing GSB alumni are to step up to the plate and say, “Listen, I’ll be keen to participate.” or “How can I help?”. The school is the best on the African continent, but it’s also this rich body of people who are willing to interact, share and help. So knowing that I’m part of a bigger network out there that takes my MBA journey and brings it post-MBA, that’s quite exciting and I’m looking forward to it.

Giving back has always been on my mind

Reyna Singh

Reyna Singh / GSB MBA ‘18/19, Owner and Director of NG Global Energy Solutions // In 2019, I was quite fortunate in that the GSB gave me a scholarship to complete my final year of the modular MBA. This was a huge help – my business was just an idea, I was in between jobs and my first year was funded on a student loan. Since then, it’s always been at the back of my mind to return that amazing favour and give back when the opportunity arises. This year, our business luckily has the capacity to give back and we made a donation to the Foundation. What do I wish for the person benefiting from our donation? Fully embrace the programme and make the most of it. Enjoy it. Engage with others, collaborate, learn. Use the knowledge you gain to make an impact. For me, it’s all good and well that you have this knowledge and education, but what are you doing to make a difference? Make an impact with what you have learned on the programme.

The skills must stay here

GSB Foundation Scholar Shadi Lekgoathi

Shadi Lekgoathi / GSB MBA student 2021 and GSB Foundation scholar // I’ve had quite a number of opportunities to work abroad. After my training in accounting, I went to New York for three months. During that time, I missed everything about home – the sound of the birds, the hooting of taxis and just how we as people interact. I was making good money, but it didn’t hit home for me. I knew then that – in terms of establishing myself and my career – it’s definitely going to be in Africa. Yes, we have a lot of issues, but there isn’t anyone coming to save us. If we want to see a better continent, a better country, we need to start taking the initiative and make an effort to contribute. I think we are very, very capable if we just look deeper. We understand our problems far better than anyone from abroad. We live here – who is in a better position to address the issues?

It’s useful to have a combination of traits

Ian Kantor

Ian Kantor / GSB MBA ’69, Founder of Investec // As a business leader, it is useful to have a combination of traits. I cannot limit this to a single attribute. To begin with, character, drive and integrity. Secondly, an understanding that building a business goes beyond just the money. It is also about an awareness and a determination that is socially motivated. Thirdly, an ability to take an idea and turn it into reality, but also to figure out what ideas there could be when confronted with reality. Next, an ability to move quickly where necessary, but also to have the patience and strength to wait for things to develop, with all that that entails. Finally, interpersonal skills. To be able to listen to others and empathise in order to find a common ground with others and an ability to build collective will with counter parties both internally and externally. Running a business is top sport, and it is really tough without good health. In my opinion, these traits are universal no matter where in the world you do business.

The MBA at the GSB is very much unique…

GSB Foundation Scholar Damian Malgas

Damian Malgas / GSB MBA student 2020 and GSB Foundation scholar // I find that the MBA at the GSB is very much unique – there’s a massive focus on understanding your place in society. Every course includes Sustainable Development Goals or externalities in one way or another, and that’s really cool and interesting. We are going deep into understanding that business doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it affects not only your employees and your customers, not only your triple-bottom-line; it affects society as a whole. And that’s something I really enjoy and can subscribe to. Acknowledging that the GSB is so focused on shaping you as a holistic business person allowed me to submit to the process and fully embrace all the material that’s coming our way.

The scholarship affords me…

GSB Foundation Scholar Asanda Manina

Asanda Manina / GSB MBA student 2019 and GSB Foundation scholar // The GSB Foundation scholarship affords me the opportunity to be here on campus, full-time, and 100% focused on the MBA, an opportunity that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. But getting the scholarship is more than the financial windfall. It’s also about the fact that someone looked at you and they had this belief that firstly you deserve this and also that you’ll do it justice, you know? It’s like a pat on the back, a confirmation of “Yes, you can do this” – and to get that from people you don’t know is really amazing, it’s an amazing feeling.

The Foundation’s scholarships enable…

Segran Nair

Segran Nair / GSB MBA ’05 and Director of Open Academic Programmes at the GSB // One of the biggest cost components of the MBA is tuition; so where individuals are able to receive a scholarship towards their tuition it’s a huge burden released. Also, in the context of South Africa, many historically disadvantaged individuals still tend to have multiple financial obligations that extend beyond their immediate financial commitments, for example, the need to financially support an extended family. Having the ability to receive a scholarship then not only enables them to get onto the GSB MBA programme but ensures that they can continue supporting their families. It makes a tremendous difference to allow deserving individuals the opportunity to study on a full-time basis. And as much as there are no formal strings attached to these scholarships, there is a principle of paying it forward – from those individuals that were supported so far, each one has shown commitment in terms of giving back to the school at some later point in time.