Picture: 123RF/ZYCH
Picture: 123RF/ZYCH

The name says it all, remarks director Kobus Jonker. The Tshwane School of Business and Society reflects the fact that business education should be about more than helping the formal sector deepen its established well of knowledge. It should also support and encourage those who are at present outside the sector and lacking the skills and experience required to break in.

The school was previously the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Business School. But since he was lured from the Eastern Cape last year, Jonker has been steadily putting his imprint on the school.

The renaming, says Jonker, reflects the school’s desire to build relationships with, and expertise on, society as a whole.

SA is already one of the most unequal countries in the world. By damaging much of the economy and destroying potentially millions of jobs, the Covid-19 pandemic is making the situation many times worse. Business schools have a responsibility to lead the search for solutions and a better society, says Jonker.

Before his arrival, the main university allowed the school to offer an MBA and not much else. Limited executive education was offered by other departments. That is changing. The school is building relationships with the Gauteng motor industry, in which major players like Ford, BMW and Nissan are joined by a number of truck companies and scores of automotive component manufacturers.

The school has also branched into agricultural management and, tellingly, township business. It has signed an agreement with an Italian university to offer executive development for township entrepreneurs, many of whom have the innovation and desire to succeed, but not the basic business skills in aspects like finance, marketing and project management.

Jonker says: “We intend to start a certificated programme next February. We are also in discussion with a company that wants to sponsor a township entrepreneurship competition.”

Other subject specialities are on the drawing board, if not yet in the pipeline. Where the university’s existing education executive courses are mainly standardised products adjusted for each client, Jonker wants to offer individualised, tailor-made programmes. “We have defined executive development specialities that will be different from their off-the-shelf offerings,” he says.

However, he has no plans to turn the school into a mass-market provider. “We will find out what we’re good at and where we can add real value, and concentrate on that,” he says. “Our ambition is not to become a big, generalist school.”

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